How To Enable Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling

In its May 10, 2020, update of Windows 10, Microsoft introduced a new feature called “Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling.” As an optional feature, it’s not turned on by default in either Windows 10 or Windows 11, meaning you need to activate it yourself if you want to take advantage of it.

How To Enable Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling

That leads to two simple questions – what is Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling, and how do you turn it on?

What Is Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling?

To answer this question, you need to understand the basics of GPU scheduling. In 2006, Microsoft introduced the Windows Display Driver Model 1.0 (WDDM), which brought with it the concept of GPU scheduling. Before scheduling existed, applications could submit as many requests to a GPU as they wanted, often leading to logjams that compromised system performance. Think of it like a dozen people trying to get through the same door at once, and you’ll understand why this lack of scheduling was such a problem.

The launch of WDDM introduced organizational tools that automatically prioritized and scheduled requests to a GPU. In the years between 2006 and 2020, WDDM underwent many evolutions, with each change adding new features to account for the increasing complexities of new computers. Eventually, bolting new features onto WDDM became impractical and resource-intensive, necessitating the introduction of a new form of scheduling.

That’s how Microsoft came up with Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling.

Assuming your device has the right hardware (and appropriate drivers), Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling can offload most of the scheduling that WDDM previously handled to a scheduling processor based on your GPU itself. Microsoft defines this change as being similar to rebuilding the foundation of a house while you’re still living in the house, as it essentially transforms the way your computer schedules requests made to the GPU.

What Do You Need to Enable Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling?

Unfortunately, not every device with Windows 10 or Windows 11 can use Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling. You need the right combination of hardware and drivers to take advantage of the feature.

On the hardware side of things, you’ll need a fairly up-to-date graphics card, such as those found in modern gaming computers. Anything from the AMD 5600 range or later, along with cards in the NVIDIA GTX 1000 range or later, can use the feature. However, it’s best to research your graphics card individually before attempting to activate Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling.

Beyond the hardware, you’ll need to have Windows 10 or 11 installed (meaning no change in scheduling for Windows 9 or below), along with the appropriate drivers. The feature requires the WDDMv2.7 driver or later, which comes with the Windows May 10, 2020 Update.

Note that having the driver and an incompatible graphics card means you can’t activate Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling, with the same being true if you have a compatible graphics card but haven’t updated your version of Windows to get the driver.

How to Turn On Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling in Windows 10

Assuming you have a compatible graphics card and the appropriate drivers, you can activate Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling in Windows 10 using two methods:

Use Windows Settings

The simplest way to activate the feature is to do it through your Windows Settings:

  1. Click the “Start” button on your desktop and head to “Settings.”
  2. Select “System” to bring up a menu on the left-hand side.
  3. From which you select “Display.”
  4. Navigate to “Multiple Displays” and click the “Graphics Settings” link.
  5. You should see a toggle next to “Hardware-Accelerated GPU Scheduling,” which you can turn on or off and restart your computer after making the change.

Upon the restart, your device may take a short while longer to load as it adjusts to the new setting.

Use the Registry Editor

You may not be able to find the option for Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling in the Windows Settings menu. If that’s the case, it’s likely that you either don’t have the appropriate update installed or Windows 10 recognizes that your graphics card isn’t compatible with the feature. If you’re certain that your card is compatible and willing to circumvent Microsoft’s built-in Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling method, you can use the registry editor to activate it:

  1. Click on the “Start” button and type “registry editor” into the search bar.
  2. Press “Run As Administrator.”
  3. Head to “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE,” then click “System” followed by “CurrentControlSet.”
  4. Select “Control” from the file drop-down, then click on “GraphicsDrivers.”
  5. Find “HwSchMode” in the list of files on the right side of the screen and open it.
  6. In the resulting pop-up, set the “Base” to “Hexidecimal and the “Value Data” to 2.
  7. Click the “OK” button to save your changes automatically.
  8. Restart your computer.

It may take a little longer for your computer to load after you make this change, though it will soon adjust and load up smoother with subsequent restarts.

How to Turn On Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling in Windows 11

The introduction of Windows 11 saw the Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling feature carry over, though you have to use a different method to turn it on:

  1. Hold the “Windows” button and press “I” to open the “Settings” app.
  2. Navigate to “System” via the left-hand menu and select “Display.”
  3. Scroll down to “Related Settings” and click on “Graphics.”
  4. Click the “Change Default Graphics Settings” link.
  5. Switch the toggle underneath “Hardware-Accelerated GPU Scheduling” on and click “Yes” in the prompt.
  6. Close the “Settings” app and restart your PC.

Is Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling Worthwhile?

Interestingly, Microsoft says you’re unlikely to see any major functionality differences in your computer (assuming everything works correctly) when you turn on Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling. The feature simply changes how GPU requests get processed, which isn’t immediately apparent when using your device for everyday tasks.

The benefits come into play when you start conducting more CPU-intensive tasks, such as gaming, with the following being great reasons to try the feature:

  • Reduce CPU Utilization – Transferring scheduling responsibility to your GPU means your CPU doesn’t have to keep creating the frame data your GPU usually needs to handle these requests.
  • Reduce Input Lag – Every millisecond of lag in a reflex-based video game is time that could make the difference between victory or defeat. As your GPU handles all aspects of graphical processing, there’s less of a delay between a button press and the corresponding on-screen action.
  • Lower Your CPU Temperature – With fewer demands placed on the CPU due to the switch in scheduling responsibility, your CPU can run faster and for longer without overheating.

While these benefits are pronounced for high-end PC gaming, you need to account for Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling placing more demand on your GPU. Power consumption will increase, and you may find that your computer starts struggling to display graphics at high-end settings if your GPU was already nearing its maximum utilization before you activated the feature.

Schedule Things Differently

The Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling feature is a handy boon for gamers (and others who use graphically-intensive apps) because it reduces the burden placed on your CPU. However, you need hardware that’s capable of utilizing the feature, and you may run into issues if you try to run a graphically-intensive app due to more demands being placed on your GPU.

Still, it can be a handy feature for those who know how to use it.

Are you somebody who adopted Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling early? Do you think it’ll become the standard method for GPU scheduling in the coming years? Let us know in the comments section below.

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