Configuring Laptop Switchable Graphics

Article Number: DH-017

Switchable Graphics is a technology that utilizes both the graphical processing capabilities of a discrete graphics adapter and the power efficiency of an integrated graphics adapter.  Laptops equipped with Switchable Graphics are capable of engaging the higher performance discrete graphics adapter for 3D applications, and the energy-efficient integrated graphics adapter for less demanding tasks.

This document provides instructions on how to configure Switchable Graphics using Radeon™ Settings.  The contents are organized into the following sections:

Driver Compatibility
To ensure compatibility, it is recommended to install the latest display drivers provided by the laptop manufacturer (OEM) for both the integrated and discrete graphics processing unit (GPU). 

You may also consider using the latest compatible generic driver offered by the integrated and discrete graphics manufacturer.  This may allow the laptop to run games and applications that are not supported by the latest OEM drivers. 

Before installing display drivers, check the Windows® Device Manager and verify that both GPUs appear on the list of hardware devices and they are enabled as shown in the screenshot below.

Either of the GPUs may appear under Other Devices as a Generic Video Controller, if no driver is currently installed for the device.

Once verified, follow the steps in the order listed below:

  1. Install the latest driver for the integrated GPU
  2. Install the latest driver for the discrete GPU

Ensure to use the same type of drivers (OEM or generic) for the integrated and discrete GPUs. 

For example:  If you choose to use generic drivers, first install the integrated GPU driver from Intel's website then install the discrete GPU driver from AMD's website.  However, if using OEM drivers then install just the drivers from the laptop manufacturer's website.

Note! Switchable Graphics may not function if the display driver for either of the GPUs are missing or not installed.

Configuring Switchable Graphics
Switchable Graphics offers several standard operating modes and can also be configured to run a specific application using the desired GPU.

To configure Switchable Graphics settings, right-click the Desktop and select AMD Radeon Settings from the menu.

Select Preferences.

Select Radeon Additional Settings.

Expand Power option from the left navigation menu and select Switchable Graphics Global Settings to view the operating modes for when the laptop is plugged in to a power source or running on battery. 

The following GPU selection methods can be chosen from the Global Application Settings option:

    • Force power-saving graphics - Forces all applications to run on the power-saving GPU.
    • Optimize Power Savings - Applications assigned to the high-performance GPU or power-saving GPU run on the appropriate GPU. Unassigned applications run on the power-saving GPU.
    • Optimize Performance - Applications assigned to the high-performance GPU or power-saving GPU run on the appropriate GPU. Applications set to select GPU based on power settings run on the high-performance GPU. Applications not assigned a GPU run on the power-saving GPU.
    • Maximize Performance - Applications assigned to the high-performance GPU or power-saving GPU run on the appropriate GPU. Other applications run on the high-performance GPU.

Assigning Switchable Graphics Application Settings

The Switchable Graphics Application Settings page contains a list of applications for which you can assign a specific GPU. Use this section to specify which GPU is best suited for 3D and video applications, or whether the GPU should be selected based on system power settings.

The All Applications area lists all applications known to the graphics driver. If you want to list only those applications installed on your computer, select Show only applications found on this system. If the application that you want is not listed, you can browse for it on your computer using the Add Application button.

Note! The default GPU selection for most applications is predetermined by the operating system. Applications with specific GPU requirements show a lock icon beside the application name and cannot be assigned a GPU; these applications always run on the integrated GPU regardless of global settings.  Applications that have been changed from the default GPU setting by the user show a user icon beside the application name.

If needed, you can change the current GPU selection for an application. In general, assigning applications that use a lot of 3D graphics to the high-performance GPU can help improve application performance.

Check that the application for which you want to assign a GPU is listed on the page and is not locked. If it is not listed, click Add Application in the All Applications area to browse for and select the application.

Next to the application, the following options can be selecting from the Graphics Settings drop-down list:

    • High Performance - Selects the discrete GPU, which consumes more power but provides better performance.
    • Power Saving - Selects the integrated GPU, which consumes less power but provides lower performance.
    • Based on Power Source - Selects the GPU based on the Global Application Settings page. The power-saving GPU is used unless global applications settings are set to Optimize Performance or Maximize Performance.

Note! The High Performance option may not be available when the laptop is running on battery power.

Changes to GPU assignments can be restored to default settings by clicking the Default button on the page.

Switchable Graphics Application Monitor
The Switchable Graphics Application Monitor page shows which GPU each application runs on. 

Click Start Monitoring to start the application monitor.  Running applications are listed on the Switchable Graphics Application Monitor page, and remain there while the monitor is on.

Each application listing includes the following information:

    • Name - The name of the application.
    • GPU - The GPU running the application. Power Saving indicates the application is running on the integrated GPU, High Performance indicates that the application is running on the discrete GPU

Note! For some systems, only applications running on the discrete GPU can be listed.

To stop the Switchable Graphics Application Monitor, click Stop Monitoring.  Monitoring stops, and the application list is cleared.

Note! Stop the Switchable Graphics Application Monitor when you have finished checking your system GPU application settings. This frees any system resources used by the application monitor.