Fix Game Doesn’t Detect Dedicated GPU on My Laptop in Windows

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  • If your games don’t detect the dedicated laptop GPU there’s a quick fix you can do in the Windows settings.
  • Setting game executables to use the high-performance GPU in Windows will fix detection problems on multi GPU laptops.
  • Dedicated GPUs will run games faster, with more details, so there’s no reason to use the integrated graphics processing unit.
dedicated gpu graphics processing unit

I’ve recently tried to play Fallout 3, a game released back in 2008, on my 2022 ASUS ROG laptop. I expected to run the game at max details, of course, but I was surprised to see the game crashing immediately to the desktop.

I’ve lowered the settings, disabled the Alder Lake efficiency cores, and rechecked the game files with no luck. The game wouldn’t start no matter what I tried.

I was almost about to give up and uninstall the game when I noticed in the game settings menu that only the integrated Intel Iris Xe GPU was detected and available as a selection in the Graphics Adapter menu.

game settings detects integrated gpu

There was no way to select the dedicated Nvidia GPU. That’s why the game wouldn’t start, not the age of the game. Fortunately, there’s a straightforward fix to this problem.

Why Windows Games Can’t Detect the Dedicated GPU on Laptops

Now that we know what’s happening, let’s see why. Nvidia Optimus and AMD Dynamic Switchable Graphics are two very similar technologies that will switch between the dedicated and integrated laptop GPUs found inside the same machine, in an effort to save power or offer better performance, depending on scenario.

When you’re doing light work, or just browsing the web, that’s done most of the time on the integrated power-sipping GPU. The Nvidia or AMD dedicated GPU is dormant at this stage, consuming almost no power.

Some apps are unable to detect the dedicated GPU, as it doesn’t show up as a resource. This can happen with newer and older programs and games, depending on how they were coded.

The Fix: Pin Games to High-Performance GPU in Settings

Fortunately, Windows offers the option to specify per-app or per-game basis which GPU will be used when the program executable is running.

In our case, we will ask Windows to run Fallout 3 from the dedicated GPU.

1. Open the Settings app by simply pressing the Win + I shortcut.

2. Navigate to System > Display.

windows 11 settings system display

3. Scroll into the right side panel until you get to Graphics under the Related settings menu. Click the right arrow to open.

windows 11 settings graphics

4. You will see here an app list together with an indication of the power mode currently active for them. If you’ve never modified an entry from this list it will show Let Windows Decide (CURRENT_MODE).

windows 11 settings graphics high performance power saving list

5. If the game you want to change settings for is not already found in this list just add it with the Browse button.

6. Before selecting the game executable let’s see how we can find out its location. For that, right-click on the desktop game icon and select Properties.

7. In the new popup window select the Shortcut tab and look for the Target location.

game executable icon properties

In my case, I need to modify the settings for the Fallout 3 launcher, not the actual game executable. Why? Because in this case, the game settings are set from the launcher, before starting the tame.

Most games feature an in-game settings menu, in which case you will need to select the game’s main executable using the same steps from this guide.

8. Now that we know which game executable we need to add to the graphics settings list we can click on the Browse button and navigate to the appropriate target folder.

windows settings graphics preferences browse app

9. The Fallout 3 Laucher will now show up in the Graphics apps list.

windows settings graphics preferences per app

10. Clicking on the Options button will allow you to set the exact GPU you want to use. It’s listed under the High Performance. Select this option and hit Save to confirm. That’s it.

windows settings graphics preferences high performance GPU

Right away, after doing all these steps, when I launched the game the Graphics Adapter showed up correctly in the game settings options menu.

The game launched correctly, and I could play without any issues whatsoever afterward.

game settings detects dedicated gpu

By the way, the guide above is the exact opposite of this other article, where you would pin specific apps to the integrated laptop GPU to save power.

Normally, Windows would automatically select the appropriate GPU if more than one is present in your system, but that doesn’t always happen, so you need to assign the correct GPU to specific programs.

If you’re a gamer you may want to read our guide on which visual game settings affect performance the most. Tweaking a few of these settings can offer a sizeable boost in FPS.

Avatar for Ionuț-Alexandru Popa
I'm obsessed with technology, science, and gadgets. I write about them since 2003. I make websites because I like to build stuff. I'm also passionate about digital marketing and graphic design. I watch movies and play games in my spare time. I'm also reading books, mostly SciFi.

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