What Is Hardware Acceleration? A Detailed Explanation

Maybe you’ve noticed a “hardware acceleration” option in your app’s settings menu, but you have no idea what it means. You might be surprised to find out that enabling this option can have a significant impact on your user experience with a specific program.

What Is Hardware Acceleration? A Detailed Explanation

Intrigued? Want more information on this topic? You’re in luck. In this article, we’ll explain everything to know about hardware acceleration, as well as how to enable or disable this useful feature across programs.

What Is Hardware Acceleration?

We use the term “hardware acceleration” to describe the process of tasks being offloaded to hardware or devices that specialize in them. The one hardware component that is responsible for handling virtually any task performed on a computer is the central processing unit (CPU).

Usually, this component does a great job juggling different tasks. However, there might be times when it’s overworked and struggles to deliver. That’s when hardware acceleration comes into the game.

For example, using a robust software program for, say, video rendering might cause a CPU to struggle to keep up with the demand, making the whole process laggy and take ages to complete. By enabling hardware acceleration, the graphics processing unit (GPU) will take over part of the responsibility of the struggling CPU. This will result in a faster, smoother user experience.

What Is Hardware Acceleration in Chrome?

Enabling hardware acceleration in Chrome would offload some of the CPU’s loading tasks to the GPU. However, enabling this feature doesn’t guarantee a smoother browsing experience in Chrome. You can always try it and see whether it helps solve whatever issues you might be having with Chrome.

Here’s how to enable hardware acceleration in Chrome:

  1. Launch Chrome on the preferred device.
  2. Click on the three dots in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
  3. Go to “Settings.”
  4. Scroll down and click on “Advanced” for more setting options.
  5. Under the “System” section, toggle on the “Use hardware acceleration when available” button.
  6. Click on the “Relaunch” button next to the toggle to save the change.

To turn off hardware acceleration in Chrome, repeat all steps above, but toggle off the “Use hardware acceleration when available” button from Step 5.

Make sure to finish all work in progress on all open tabs in Chrome. The “Relaunch” function might not save any of it. Alternatively, simply closing the settings tab will program Chrome will apply the changes the next time it’s re-opened.

What Is Hardware Acceleration on Spotify?

If you’re looking into hardware accelerating the Spotify experience, know that this can only be done via your PC. This option is set to “On” by default, and here’s how to change that:

  1. Launch Spotify on your PC.
  2. Go to the “Settings” section.
  3. Scroll down to the bottom of the “Advanced” settings.
  4. Ensure the “Hardware acceleration” box is checked off (or on, if you wish to enable it).

Note: Many users with older computers experience tracks jumping or fast-forwarding due to the hardware acceleration feature. If you experience such issues, deselect the “Hardware acceleration” box and restart the computer. This is a common issue for older computers since their hardware is just not up to the task.

What Is Hardware Acceleration on Discord?

Ideally, hardware acceleration on Discord would result in a smoother user experience, as it will use the computer’s GPU to help the CPU do a better job. However, there are things to consider before making a judgment on whether enabling this feature will do good or harm.

If your main purpose is to chat with friends while playing a game, go ahead and enable this feature, especially if there are long delays when switching between servers and friends. It should be noted that most Discord users prefer not to use hardware acceleration since long-term usage might harm their computer.

Here’s how to turn on (or off) hardware acceleration in Discord:

  1. Open Discord on a computer and go to the “Settings” menu. It’s the gear icon next to your username.
  2. Go to the “Advanced” tab.
  3. Scroll down to the “Hardware Acceleration” box and toggle it on or off.
  4. Restart the Discord app for the changes to take place.

What Is Hardware Acceleration on Windows 10?

If you experience some delays in program or video game performance on Windows 10, turning on the “Hardware Acceleration” feature might help. However, not all computers that run on Windows 10 will have the option to manipulate hardware acceleration.

If you don’t see the options explained below on your computer, try turning hardware acceleration on or off via a specific program’s settings (Chrome, Spotify, etc.).

  1. Launch “Control Panel” on the computer.
  2. In the “View” mode, select “Large icons.”
  3. Select “Display.”
  4. Select “Change Display Settings” on the left-hand side of the window.
  5. Find the “Advanced display settings” section and click on it.
  6. Click on the “Troubleshoot” tab.
  7. Select “Change settings.”
  8. Under the “Hardware acceleration” section, move the pointer towards “Full.”
  9. Hit “OK” to save changes.
  10. Restart the PC.

What Is Hardware Acceleration on Streamlabs?

In case you experience some visual issues while using Streamlabs, one of the first troubleshooting options to try is enabling or disabling hardware acceleration. If the GPU isn’t handling the assigned tasks properly, try turning the hardware acceleration off:

  1. Launch Streamlabs and head over to “Settings.”
  2. Select “Advanced” from the left-hand menu.
  3. Under the “Sources” section, make sure the box for “Enable Browser Source Hardware Acceleration” is checked off (or turn it off if it’s in the on position).
  4. Restart your Streamlabs OBS.

What Is Hardware Acceleration on VSDC?

If you experience slow video encoding or overall laggy experience in your VSDC Video Editor, it might be due to the hardware acceleration being off. If the CPU is having difficulty keeping up with everything, it might need some help from the GPU.

That’s when it’s time to turn the hardware acceleration on. If, however, this feature is turned on, but the GPU is just not working to its full potential, it’s better to turn it off.

Here’s how to check the hardware acceleration settings in VSDC:

  1. Launch VSDC and open a project.
  2. In the upper right-hand corner of the screen, select “Options.”
  3. Select the “Acceleration Options” from the top left.
  4. Ensure the box next to “Use Hardware Acceleration for Encoding Video” is checked on (or off, depending on the preference).

What Is Hardware Acceleration on Firefox?

To enable (or disable) hardware acceleration on Firefox, follow the steps below:

  1. Launch Firefox on your computer.
  2. Click on the three horizontal lines to open the menu.
  3. Go to the “Preferences” section.
  4. Click on the “General” panel.
  5. Head over to “Performance” and check (or uncheck, depending on the case) the “Use hardware acceleration when available” box to disable the feature.
  6. Quit Firefox, then restart.

What Is Hardware Acceleration on OBS?

Enabling hardware acceleration on Open Broadcast Software (OBS) might help provide a faster user experience. This is especially true if you notice the app taking a huge amount of the CPU and performing poorly. To enable this option, head over to the OBS settings page and allow the “Browser Source Hardware Acceleration” feature.

How to Enable or Disable Hardware Acceleration?

You can enable or disable hardware acceleration by navigating to your app’s settings. Usually, these options are located in the “Advanced” section of an app’s settings page. It usually requires ticking (or unticking) the box next to “Use hardware acceleration when available.”

Additional FAQs

Here are some more questions to help get the most out of this topic.

Should I Enable Hardware Acceleration?

In general, if your computer runs on a robust GPU, it can only be beneficial to enable hardware acceleration. This will allow the GPU to work to its full extent and provide a smoother user experience in all apps.

Also, if you frequently use editing or streaming software, consider enabling hardware acceleration as well. By doing so, the computer will be able to use specialized hardware that’s located in supported devices (GPU or CPU). For example, Intel QuickSync is a robust addition to Intels’ modern CPUs made for faster video rendering.

What Programs Use Hardware Acceleration?

Virtually any program that can benefit from advanced graphics card or sound card performance can utilize hardware acceleration. The process of hardware acceleration actually means offloading some tasks from the CPU to other hardware components.

This can be done for almost every app on your computer, including YouTube, Facebook, and other programs that can be used both offline and online.

What Is Disable Hardware Acceleration?

Disabling hardware acceleration is recommended in a few situations. For example, maybe the CPU is in top-notch condition and does a perfect job handling all tasks. On the other hand, some other hardware components might be a bit weaker. Enabling hardware acceleration on this component can, in turn, result in a slower or lagging user experience.

Another example of a good time to disable hardware acceleration is if the program that’s meant to utilize that hardware isn’t doing it correctly. You’ll notice this if, after disabling the hardware acceleration, the software regains its initial speed. This is by far one of the most common reasons for disabling hardware acceleration.

Knowing Your Way With Hardware Acceleration

Sometimes you might not know whether it’s a good idea to enable or disable hardware acceleration for some apps. A general rule of thumb here is to enable it if your CPU is relatively weak while other computer components run more smoothly. For reverse situations, you’re better off disabling this function. After reading this article, you should now be able to decide the approprite hardware acceleration settings across multiple programs.

Did you experience slow running apps when enabling hardware acceleration? Or did allowing this feature boost your in-app user experience? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

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