Do you wish your applications to run smoothly? Does your CPU usage heat up when running some applications besides games? If your answer is yes to both these questions, then the feature named “Hardware Acceleration” is going to be your best friend.
Basically, this feature allows an application to use more resources from another computer component like the graphics card. So, if you have a beefy computer, turning this feature on can take some load off your CPU, allowing it to perform more tasks.
Now without further delay, let’s get into details about the hardware acceleration and its pros and cons.
What is Hardware Acceleration?
Hardware acceleration is a feature that an application uses to perform its tasks more effectively using computer hardware. When running an application like web browser, Zoom, or Discord, most of its processes and jobs are handled by the CPU. So, if we run multiple applications that depend solely on the CPU, it may decrease the CPU’s performance.
Internal hardware such as graphics and the sound card will handle operations that a CPU struggles with when we enable hardware acceleration in some programs. If we turn on this setting, the CPU will have still have enough resources to run another process smoothly.
If we play a game on a web browser with hardware acceleration turned off, the CPU will handle everything from internet requests to in-game graphics. The CPU will struggle to deliver if the workload is heavy.
When we turn on hardware acceleration, these graphics and sound-related work are transferred to the GPU and sound card respectively. So, it takes a heavy task off the CPU.
Although hardware acceleration may seem like a must-use feature in every application, there are a few complications that come with it.
- Improves application performance
- Improves CPU health as there is less load
- Increases battery life
- May freeze or crash an application
- It may give you a black screen when trying to record or stream a video when enabled.
- Some application-specific features may not work with hardware acceleration.
Should I Turn Hardware Acceleration On Or Off?
This question really depends on whether or not the system can use the hardware acceleration feature. The system may not be able to handle this feature if the specific hardware performs worse than the CPU.
If a computer does not have enough dedicated memory (GPU memory), turning this setting on may even give low performance than turning it off.
However, if a system has a relatively older processor and decent hardware like GPU or the sound card, it may benefit the computer when we turn on hardware acceleration.
So, to sum it up, if you have a hardware component that performs well, you can use hardware acceleration to improve the performance of your system. Unfortunately, your system may perform worse than before if you do not have a dedicated component.
How to Enable/Disable Hardware Acceleration?
Now that we know a bit about hardware acceleration, let’s see how to enable or disable them in some applications.
Note: You might face some errors when turning on this setting.
Users cannot stream or record if they have allowed hardware acceleration on that application. For example, you will not record or stream any video from chrome if it has hardware acceleration enabled.
However, if you are not recording or streaming, enabling this feature will give you a smoother experience, given that the hardware you are using is capable.
You can follow these steps to enable/disable hardware acceleration in Chrome.
- Open Google Chrome.
- Click on the three vertical dots on the top-right of the screen.
- Click on Settings,
- On the left panel, expand Advanced.
- Open System.
- Here, you will see an option named Use hardware acceleration when available.
- This setting will enable or disable hardware acceleration on chrome.
The following steps will help you to enable or disable the hardware acceleration feature.
- Open Firefox.
- Click on the three horizontal lines on the top-right side of the screen.
- Click on Settings.
- In General, scroll down to Performance.
- Here, check or uncheck Use recommended performance settings to enable or disable hardware acceleration.
To enable/disable hardware acceleration in Opera, you can follow these steps.
- Open Opera.
- Click on the three horizontal lines on the top-right side of the Opera dialog box.
- Click on Full Browser Settings.
- Expand Advanced and click on Browser
- Now, on the right side, under System, check or uncheck Use hardware acceleration when available to enable or disable hardware acceleration.
As of today, safari does not have a feature to enable or disable hardware acceleration.
You can follow these steps to turn on/off hardware acceleration.
- Open Microsoft Edge.
- Click on three horizontal dots on the top right of the screen.
- Select Settings.
- On the left panel, click on System and performance.
- Here, check or uncheck Use hardware acceleration when available.
While using a web browser, please enable hardware acceleration as it greatly increases a browser’s performance. However, if an application constantly runs in the background without handling many processes, it is best to disable hardware acceleration.
Discord Hardware Acceleration
When we enable hardware acceleration in discord, it uses the graphics card to function smoothly. Since we run discord constantly while gaming, it is ideal to disable this feature to increase in-game FPS (Frames Per Second).
Follow these steps to enable or disable hardware acceleration.
- Open Discord.
- Click on User Settings.
- Scroll down on the left panel, then click on Advanced.
- Here, we can enable or disable Hardware Acceleration.
Zoom Hardware Acceleration
Zoom has a special feature that allows us to enable or disable hardware acceleration for specific tasks like video processing, virtual background, and sending and receiving the video. To enable or disable this feature, you can follow these steps.
- Open Zoom.
- Click on the Settings icon to open Settings. Another dialog box will open.
- On the left panel, click on Video.
- Then, select Advanced.
- Here, you can enable or disable hardware acceleration for specific tasks.
Kodi Hardware Acceleration Settings
You can follow these steps to enable or disable hardware acceleration.
- Open Kodi.
- Click on the Settings icon on the left panel.
- Select Player, then on the left side, click on Videos.
- Under Processing, toggle Allow hardware acceleration – DXVA2.
Allow hardware acceleration – DXVA2 (DirectX Video Acceleration) will control the hardware acceleration feature in Kodi.
Errors Due to Hardware Acceleration
When we enable the hardware acceleration, the application will feel smoother than before. However, it also may give you some complications. Here is a list of issues you may run into when we enable hardware acceleration.
Black Screen While Recording or Streaming Videos
One of the most annoying problems when enabling hardware acceleration is getting a black screen while recording or streaming videos from the browser. When you enable this setting in the browser, then try to record or stream video content in the browser, the recording will be all black.
This occurs because the recording/streaming application uses the CPU to record the screen most of the time. However, when a web browser or any application runs with hardware acceleration enabled, it uses the GPU to process the video playback.
To fix this issue, we can disable hardware acceleration in the browser.
Error: x86 emulation currently requires hardware acceleration
Error: x86 emulation currently requires hardware acceleration is a common error user’s face on using Android Studio. The Android Studio is an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) to develop android applications.
This error message means that the application couldn’t detect Intel’s Emulator Accelerator. Although Android Studio downloads the Emulator Accelerator, it does not install them. So, we can easily fix this issue by installing Intel’s Emulator Accelerator.
Does Hardware Acceleration Consume More Battery?
Without hardware acceleration turned on, the CPU performs most, if not, all of the processes. However, it may take some time to complete these tasks. When we turn on hardware acceleration, some of these specific tasks are set to particular hardware, which performs these tasks much more efficiently.
It means that the device will run cooler, and batteries will last longer as well.
Does My Computer Support Hardware Acceleration?
If your computer has a dedicated GPU (Graphics Processing Unit), it will support hardware acceleration. To ensure that it supports hardware acceleration, you can follow these steps.
- Press the Windows + R key
- Type “dxdiag” without quotation mark and press enter.
- Click Yes if it asks you to bypass system information.
- Go to the Display tab.
- DirectDraw, Direct3D, and AGP Texture Acceleration should indicate Enabled.
Can Hardware Acceleration Lower Application Performance?
Hardware Acceleration can lower your application’s speed if the dedicated hardware performs worse than the CPU itself. Therefore, enabling hardware acceleration on a computer with a relatively older hardware component is not recommended.
So, the hardware acceleration is a very handy feature if we have a computer with some slightly decent hardware that does a specific job better that the CPU. It does provide an application with some boost for a smooth experience. Although there is some error we may face enabling this feature, the advantages of hardware acceleration far out-weighs the disadvantages.