Why is my GPU usage so high? How to lower your GPU usage

An easy step-by-step guide to lowering your GPU usage

Why is my GPU usage so high How to lower your GPU usage

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Knowing how to lower your GPU usage is an important step in ensuring your graphics card is not being overused. If you’re seeing a GPU usage spike, it can lead to poor graphics performance meaning your games can lag and stutter more frequently as your settings may be too high. We look into why your GPU usage might be so high and provide a step-by-step guide on how to fix high GPU usage. Subsequently, helping even your best GPU to maintain high performance and reduce any unexpected noise or overheating.

If you find this GPU utilization guide helpful then check out some of our other coverage on the topic. Including our guides on how to clean your GPU and how to reset your graphics card driver.

✓ Quick answer

A quick way of lowering your GPU usage

High GPU usage isn’t immediately a bad thing as it just means your graphics card is doing the work as intended. But if it’s not at the right time it should be you can turn down the settings in your game, or turn off hardware acceleration in Windows and individual applications if needed.

How to lower your GPU usage – step-by-step guide

1

Check for hardware issues

In our journey to discover how to lower your GPU usage, the first method we explore is checking for hardware issues. This step is fundamental, as hardware problems can significantly impact your GPU’s performance and efficiency. Whether you’re running a gaming PC or a standard desktop, ensuring that your GPU operates without any hardware glitches is crucial for maintaining optimal performance.

Hardware issues that can lead to high GPU usage include overheating due to poor ventilation, inadequate power options, or even physical damage to the graphics card itself. A common symptom of such issues is an unusually high GPU temperature, which not only strains your GPU but also affects overall power consumption and system stability.

In this section, we will guide you through various checks and fixes to address potential hardware-related issues. These include ensuring proper airflow in your PC case to reduce GPU temperature, verifying that your power supply can adequately support your GPU, and checking your RAM and other components that might be contributing to increased GPU load.

Addressing these hardware issues can significantly lower your GPU usage, leading to a more balanced and efficient system performance. This method is particularly beneficial for users who frequently engage in resource-intensive tasks, such as gaming or graphic design, where optimized GPU performance is a power saver. By following these steps, you can enhance the longevity of your GPU and ensure a smoother computing experience.

Step

1

Inspect GPU installation

  • Turn off your PC and open it up
  • Undo the screws and PCIe lock on the GPU
  • Then take out the GPU and slot it back in firmly, redoing the screws again if you have them

Step

2

Verify power connections

  • Confirm all power connections to the GPU are secure
  • Check the power cables running from the PSU to the GPU while the PC is turned off

Step

3

Monitor for overheating

  • Assess if the GPU is overheating with software such as HWInfo running during intensive usage
  • Check for dust buildup and ensure fans are functioning while they are needed
HWInfo GPU temperature check, source BGFG
HWInfo GPU temperature check, source BGFG

Step

4

Consult a technician

  • If issues persist, seek professional help
  • Take your PC to a certified technician if hardware problems are suspected
2

Disable hardware acceleration

If you’re looking for effective ways on how to lower your GPU usage, a key method to consider is disabling hardware acceleration. Hardware acceleration, while beneficial in certain scenarios, can sometimes cause your GPU to work harder than necessary, especially in applications that aren’t heavily reliant on graphics processing or that are sat idle not being used.

In this section, we’ll delve into the steps of disabling hardware acceleration in various programs and operating systems. This approach can be particularly useful if you notice your GPU working overtime when it shouldn’t be, as indicated when you open Task Manager.

Disabling hardware acceleration can be a straightforward fix for high GPU usage, especially in situations where the GPU is being unnecessarily utilized for tasks that could be handled by the CPU. It’s also a useful technique to address potential CPU usage bottlenecks, where the GPU is waiting on the processor to finish tasks.

Step

1

Open system settings

  • In Windows open the menu ad search for settings
  • Or open it from the menu if it’s available

System Settings in Windows 11, source BGFG

System Settings in Windows 11, source BGFG

Step

2

Go to display settings

  • Open up Display settings
Display settings Windows 11, source BGFG
Display settings Windows 11, source BGFG

Step

3

Go to Graphics settings

  • Scroll down to related settings
  • Click through to Graphics
Graphics settings in Windows 11, source BGFG
Graphics settings in Windows 11, source BGFG

Step

4

Open default settings

  • Click through to Change default graphics settings
Default graphics settings in Windows 11, source BGFG
Default graphics settings in Windows 11, source BGFG

Step

5

Turn off hardware acceleration

  • Turn off hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling
  • Restart your PC
Hardware accelerated GPU scheduling in Windows 11, source BGFG
Hardware accelerated GPU scheduling in Windows 11, source BGFG

Hardware acceleration does lower GPU load but might lower performance so turn it back on if it’s too bad.
Also, individual applications may have their own hardware acceleration which can be found in their settings.

3

Change your graphics settings

One basic way of reducing GPU usage is lowering the settings on your applications. Mainly in gaming, turning down the graphics will reduce the strain on your hardware.

Also limiting your FPS to your monitor with VSync will mean not overusing your hardware.

Reducing GPU load with lower settings in CS2, source BGFG
Reducing GPU load with lower settings in CS2, source BGFG

Reasons for high GPU usage

High GPU usage isn’t inherently bad; it often simply means that your GPU is fully utilizing its resources for demanding tasks. However, consistently high usage can be a cause for concern and can cause issues such as overheating, reduced performance, or a shortened lifespan of the GPU.

Here are some reasons why your GPU usage is high:

  1. Intensive graphic demands: The most straightforward reason for high GPU usage is running graphically intensive programs. This includes playing a demanding game, using video editing software, graphic design applications, and even high-resolution video streaming.
  2. High game settings: If you’re a gamer, high settings in your games can push your GPU to its limits. Features like high-resolution textures, anti-aliasing, and high frame rates are particularly demanding. Reducing these settings can significantly lower GPU usage.
  3. Background applications: Sometimes, the culprit is not what you’re actively using, but what’s running in the background. Programs that continue to run in the background can consume GPU resources even when you’re not actively using them.
  4. Outdated drivers: Outdated or corrupted GPU drivers might not efficiently manage the GPU’s workload, leading to unnecessarily high usage. Using the latest driver ensures that your GPU operates optimally.
  5. Multiple monitors or high resolution: Using multiple monitors or a single high-resolution monitor can increase GPU load. The GPU has to work harder to maintain output to more pixels.
  6. Malware or software issues: In some cases, malware or certain software bugs can cause high GPU usage. Malicious software might use your GPU for crypto-mining or other intensive tasks without your knowledge.
  7. Hardware issues: Finally, hardware problems like an aging GPU, insufficient cooling, or dust accumulation can also lead to high usage. These issues can prevent the GPU from operating efficiently, causing it to overexert itself even under normal conditions.

Is 100% GPU usage bad?

No, 100% GPU usage is not inherently bad. It typically indicates that your GPU is fully utilized for demanding tasks like gaming or video editing. However, consistently high usage over extended periods can lead to performance issues, overheating, and potentially shorten the lifespan of the GPU.

Can a CPU bottleneck affect my GPU usage?

Yes, a CPU bottleneck can cause high GPU usage. When the CPU is slower than the GPU, it can’t process data fast enough, leading the GPU to work harder and increase its usage. Upgrading your CPU or using different settings to balance the workload can help alleviate this issue.

Final word

If you’re looking at your GPU usage and concerned by seeing 100%, you don’t have to be, it means your GPU is doing its job and ensuring you’re getting the best out of it. Of course, if you’re worried about it too much there are ways of reducing it, but otherwise, you can continue as normal and not harming your performance as the graphics cards are made to be used this way. Methods like overclocking your GPU and poor cooling are the ones that may cause more harm in the long term.

Maria is a full-stack digital marketing strategist interested in productivity and AI tools.