Why Are Games Not Using GPU? – How to Fix

Once you spend a hefty amount on a computer part like the GPU, you want the system to utilize that new resource. In some cases, the system refuses to do so, resulting in frustration for the user. This would beg the question why are games not using GPU after all? and how to fix this issue?

Many reasons can cause the system to use integrated graphics instead of the dedicated GPU. Some of these reasons are drivers related, and some can be cured in windows settings.

The main issue most people face is that the system will recognize the graphics card but not use it for games. This behavior may seem odd, as most computers automatically detect and install new parts.

Let us dive straight into the solutions. All you have to do is follow along and ensure you perform each task!

So Why are Games Not Using GPU and How to Fix?

There can be many reasons why your games are not using your dedicated graphics card. 

I will cover some of the reasons below:

1. Connect Display to the Dedicated GPU (Not to the Motherboard)

One of the primary reasons why your games may not be using your graphics card is if you have connected your monitor to your motherboard’s display ports.

Should You Connect Monitor to GPU or Motherboard
Use the GPU’s video output ports, not the motherboard’s for monitor.

One common mistake of gamers is connecting the monitor to the motherboard’s display output instead of the card. If the monitor is connected to the motherboard’s video output ports, then it will use the CPU’s integrated graphics card.

Check whether the monitor’s wire is connected to the motherboard or the dedicated graphics card. If the wire is connected to the motherboard, unplug it and connect it to the ports on the dedicated graphics card. There is no need to restart the system.

If you already had the wire plugged into the correct port or the issue isn’t gone, move on to the next step.

Also Read: Computer Not Starting After Installing New Graphics Card?

2. Driver’s Can be the Culprit

A dedicated graphics is often not shipped with the system, unless you bought a prebuild PC; hence you must install the correct drivers upon plugging it in.

Your operating system may find some drivers from windows updates to run the graphics card if you are connected to the internet. Still, these are not necessarily the best or latest drivers.

A good first step is to uninstall the existing drivers, you need to uninstall the existing GPU drivers and install the latest ones from the manufacturer’s website (AMD or Nvidia).

Here are the steps to uninstall the drivers:

device manager display adapters
Make sure you select the dedicated graphics card, which GTX 1050 in this case
  1. Open the device manager (search Device Manager in the search bar or start menu)
  2. Expand Display adapters
  3. Right-click on your external GPU and click properties (from the drop-down menu)
  4. Click on Uninstall device
  5. In the popup, check the Delete the driver software for this device option
  6. Click Uninstall
  7. The drivers are now uninstalled

To install the latest drivers, follow these steps:

Download the auto-detection tool from the official website: AMD or Nvidia

  1. Download and run the tool
  2. Click next through the installation wizard

This process will automatically install the latest drivers for your GPU.

The following video tutorial explains how to download and install the latest drivers.

Go to the next step if you are still facing the issue.

3. Disable Integrated Graphics:

You can disable the integrated graphics if your system uses the iGPU instead of the dedicated card.

Doing this will not harm the system but it will not allow the iGPU to be seen by the system.

Disabling the integrated graphics card will NOT shift all the graphics processing to the dedicated GPU. Some of that will be relegated to software based video rendering.

Display Adapter Device Manager
Device Manager showing the Integrated Graphics Card
  1. Go to the device manager (explained earlier)
  2. Expand the Display adapters option
  3. Right-click on the integrated graphics
  4. Click on disable device

Upon doing so, your system will use the dedicated GPU, as there is no other display adapter available.

You should now run the game, and if the issue continues, move on to the next step.

You should be careful when disabling your integrated graphics card.

The following video explain how to disable your integrated graphics card:

Graphics Preference Change Through the Dedicated GPU’s Control Panel

Your system may be using the integrated graphics by default for display and games. You can change the preferred graphics card for specific apps (games). To do this, you can follow these steps:

Why Are Games Not Using GPU
Change preferred graphics card in Windows 10 graphics settings
  1. Right-click anywhere on the desktop
  2. Click Display Settings
  3. Scroll all the way down, and look for Graphics Settings
  4. Once in the Graphics Settings, look for Graphics Performance Preference section
  5. From the drop down menu select Desktop App
  6. Click Browse
  7. Find the installation folder of the game
  8. Select the .exe file
  9. Click add
  10. Once you see the game’s icon, click options under it
  11. Select High-Performance from the popup menu

This will set the preferred graphics processor for this game to be the dedicated GPU.

In addition to that, whether you have an NVIDIA or an AMD graphics card select, you selected the preferred graphics card from its control panel.

changing a program to use dedicated graphics card in nvidia
Changing the preferred graphics card for a selected game in NVIDIA Control panel.

If this does not solve the problem, go to the next step.

5. Are You On Battery (Applicable for Laptops)

If you are on a gaming laptop, then one of the biggest reasons for your games no using your dedicated graphics card could be that you are running it on battery.

A laptop with a powerful dedicated graphics card if running on battery will be limited to using the integrated graphics only.

The dedicated graphics cards on most, if not all, gaming laptops only run if your laptop is connected to the power socket.

6. Are Using the Correct PCIe Slot for Your Graphics Card?

does it matter which pcie slot I use w
PCIe Slots for adding expansion cards. Note that the bottom x16 slot actually only has 4 lanes. You can figure this out by reading the specsheet of the motherboard.

One very important reason why your games may not be using graphics card is if it is placed in an incorrect slot. A typical graphics card requires an x16 slot in order to function properly.

However, not all x16 slots are the same. While a true x16 slot has 16 PCIe lanes, some x16 slots only feature 4 PCIe lanes.

Installing a dedicated graphics card in a PCIe slot with only 4 lanes will render it inoperable or reduce its functionality. 

Take for instance the motherboard above, your graphics card will only work if it is installed in the first x16 slot.

Also Read: Computer Turns on But No Display – How to Fix?

7. BIOS Settings

If all of the steps above fail to make a difference, the problem is most probably being caused by the BIOS.

What happens is that the motherboard has the integrated graphics set as the first priority and the PCI express as the second. Priority is the setting that decides which component is going to be used and which one is going to be on standby.

To enter the BIOS, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Updates and Security in windows settings
  2. Click on Recovery
  3. Click on Restart now under Advanced Startup
  4. Click on Troubleshoot and then Advanced Options
  5. Click on UEFI Firmware to enter the BIOS

You can also enter BIOS at system startup by pressing DEL, F2, F1 or the ESC key depending upon what make and model of PC you have.

To tweak the settings, follow these steps:

  1. Look for Peripherals or IO Devices (every motherboard has this under a different name)
  2. Once there, look for Primary Display (the name may vary a little)
  3. When you find this, click on the menu, and select PCI express as your primary display
  4. Save and exit the BIOS (press F10)

Note that not all motherboards have a comprehensive BIOS.

After you have completed these steps, your BIOS will now have the PCIe slot as the primary display output. You can now boot up your system and test the games.

If the issue has still not been resolved, chances are that some hardware-level problems are causing it.

8. Reset BIOS By Removing CMOS Battery

You can try resetting the BIOS by removing the CMOS battery from the motherboard for 5 seconds.

This is quite straight forward. Locate the large CMOS battery on the motherboard.

Remove it. You will have to press on the lock/latch using a precision screw driver.

Remove the CMOS battery for 5 second and then put it back in.

Removing the CMOS battery will bring the BIOS back to its default configuration and should fix any underlying issues with bad hardware settings.

Other Things to Try

It could get very frustrating to figure out why are games not using GPU, particularly if you have gone through all the troubleshooting steps above.

There are a few other procedures that you can adopt to ensure that the GPU is connected properly.

  1. Check the wires: Changing the cables that connect the GPU with the monitor may solve the problem, especially if the wires are old.
  2. Check if the card is inserted correctly: You can check whether the GPU is inserted correctly into the PCIe slot. Sometimes, the gold strip of the GPU is not entirely in contact with the PCIe connectors. A symptom of this issue is the GPU not showing in the device manager under the Display adapter.
  3. Run the GPU on another slot: There are often multiple PCIe slots on a motherboard (ATX). If you have a motherboard with this feature, you can insert the card into another space. If the issue persists, your GPU is most likely to blame.
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Atif Qazi
Atif Qazi is the founder of PCGuide101 and an expert in the computer peripheral industry with over two decades of experience. He has worked as a consultant for major companies and has a deep understanding of the inner workings of computer peripherals. He has a degree in Electrical Engineering and has served as a product manager and technical consultant. He is passionate about testing and evaluating the latest products to provide readers with reliable information.

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