Windows – How to determine and set the primary graphics card

gpugraphics cardthinkpadwindows 7

I have a Lenovo W520 laptop with two graphics cards:

Device Manager showing "Intel(R) HD Graphics Family" and "NVIDIA Quadro 1000M"

I think Windows 7 (64 bit) is using my Intel graphics card ₃ which I think is integrated — because I have a low graphics rating in the Windows Experience Index. Also, the Intel card has 750MB of RAM while the NVIDIA has 2GB.

  1. How do I know for certain which card is Windows 7 really using?
  2. How do I change it?
  3. Since this is a laptop and the display is built in, how would changing the graphics card affect the built in display?

Best Answer

geoffc is right. I found out from exploring the BIOS that my machine is using NVIDIA Optimus, a "new" technology for saving battery. The general idea is that it allows the driver to pick the right graphics card based on the demand, i.e. a 3D game will use NVIDIA, while surfing the net in Chrome will use the integrated Intel card.

There are two ways to manually use a specific card:

  1. Set it at the BIOS level.
  2. Change it in the NVIDIA Control Panel:

    NVIDIA Control Panel

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