Does your dedicated graphics card have limited output, and you wish to expand your display through onboard graphics, but don’t know if it’s possible or how to do it? Combining your onboard graphics with a dedicated graphics card can be a strategic move. This setup is particularly beneficial for those needing multiple monitors for work, gaming, or multimedia activities. In this article, we’ll explore why you might want to use both types of graphics processors simultaneously, how to determine if your system supports this feature, and provide a step-by-step guide on setting it up in Windows 11.
Why use both onboard and dedicated graphics?
The most common reason for using both graphics systems is to set up dual monitors. This is especially useful if your dedicated GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) doesn’t have enough outputs for multiple monitors or if you want to offload less demanding tasks to the onboard graphics.
Beyond just the convenience of additional monitors, this configuration can lead to improved system performance when you do it right. For example, you can use the dedicated GPU for intensive tasks like gaming or video editing, while the onboard graphics handle everyday tasks.
Another significant advantage is energy efficiency. Onboard graphics, typically less power-hungry, can handle basic tasks, leading to reduced power consumption. This not only saves energy but can also result in a quieter operating system, as the dedicated GPU may remain idle or run cooler during less intensive usage.
Additionally, having both graphics options available can be a fallback in case one fails. It also offers flexibility in connecting various types of displays and peripherals.
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Checking if your hardware supports running both graphics systems at the same time
Before you start connecting monitors and tweaking settings, it’s crucial to ensure that your motherboard can support both onboard and dedicated graphics simultaneously. Here’s how you can check.
Start by checking your motherboard’s manual. It’s the most reliable source for detailed information about your motherboard’s capabilities, including whether it supports onboard graphics and simultaneous use with a dedicated GPU.
Inspect the motherboard
Look at your motherboard. If it has video output ports (like HDMI, DVI, or VGA), it supports onboard graphics. This is a clear indication that the CPU and motherboard can handle basic display tasks without a dedicated GPU.
Check the CPU
Not all processors have integrated graphics. You’ll need to ensure that your CPU supports onboard graphics. Information about your CPU’s capabilities can be found on the manufacturer’s website.
Sometimes, the capability to run both graphics systems is disabled by default in the BIOS/UEFI. You’ll need to access these settings to check if there’s an option like “IGPU Multi-Monitor,” “Integrated Graphics,” or “Onboard VGA” and ensure it’s enabled.
Operating system compatibility
Ensure that your operating system, like Windows 11, supports multiple displays. Most modern operating systems do, but it’s good to confirm.
If you’re unsure, visiting the motherboard manufacturer’s website or online forums can provide additional insights and user experiences regarding dual graphics support.
Setting up onboard and dedicated graphics in Windows 11
To properly enable, set up, and use both onboard graphics and a dedicated video card at the same time, follow these steps:
- Enter BIOS/UEFI settings:
- Restart your computer.
- Press the key to enter BIOS/UEFI settings (usually F2, F10, DEL, or ESC, depending on the manufacturer).
- Navigate to the graphics settings. Look for options like “IGPU Multi-Monitor,” “Integrated Graphics,” or similar.
- Enable the onboard graphics alongside the dedicated GPU. Save changes and exit BIOS/UEFI.
- Connect the monitors:
- Connect your primary monitor to the dedicated graphics card using its available ports.
- Connect the second monitor to the onboard graphics port on the motherboard. This could be HDMI, VGA, DVI, or DisplayPort, depending on your motherboard.
- Install or update drivers:
- Ensure that you have the latest drivers installed for both your onboard graphics (usually from the CPU or motherboard manufacturer) and your dedicated graphics card.
- You can download these from the manufacturers’ websites and follow their installation guides.
- Configure Display Settings in Windows 11:
- Right-click on your desktop and select “Display settings.”
- Both monitors should be detected here. If not, click on “Detect” to find the second monitor.
- Arrange the display order by dragging the numbered boxes to match your physical setup.
- Set the primary display as per your preference.
- Adjust the resolution and orientation for each monitor as needed.
- Assign applications to specific GPUs (Optional):
- In Windows 11, you can assign applications to use a specific GPU.
- Go to Settings > System > Display > Graphics.
- Choose an app and select “Options.” Here, you can select which GPU the app uses.
- Test your setup by running different applications on each monitor. Monitor the performance and stability.
- If you encounter issues, recheck the connections, settings, and driver installations.
Related problem: Game Stuttering and Lag on Dual Monitor (Fix)
Some common issues in dual graphics setups
Monitors not detected
When your computer fails to recognize one or both monitors, start by checking the physical connections. Make sure the cables are securely plugged into the correct ports. If everything seems in place, try power cycling: turn off and unplug the monitors and computer for a minute before restarting. If the issue persists, updating or reinstalling the graphics drivers for both the onboard and dedicated graphics can often resolve detection problems.
Similar issue: Intel HD Graphics: This computer does not meet the minimum
BIOS/UEFI settings problems
If you’re struggling to find or understand the relevant BIOS/UEFI settings for enabling dual graphics, the motherboard’s manual is your go-to resource. It provides specific instructions for your hardware. If the manual doesn’t clear things up, the motherboard manufacturer’s customer support or online forums can be valuable sources of information and assistance.
Dealing with performance issues
Encountering performance drops? Start by checking your Windows power settings. Ensure they are set to “High performance.” Next, look into the settings of your dedicated GPU’s control panel to optimize for better performance. Don’t forget to consider system cooling; inadequate cooling can lead to performance throttling.
Software and application compatibility
Older applications may not always play nice with a dual graphics setup. Running these applications in compatibility mode can help. For apps that are underperforming, manually assigning them to either the onboard or dedicated GPU through Windows graphics settings can make a significant difference.
Resolving display resolution or quality issues
If you’re facing resolution or display quality issues, adjust the display settings for each monitor individually in Windows. This includes tweaking the resolution to match each monitor’s capabilities. Also, using high-quality cables for connection can improve signal quality, which is particularly important for higher resolutions.
It’s important to note that not every system is compatible with running both onboard and dedicated graphics simultaneously. This compatibility largely depends on your motherboard, CPU, and sometimes even the operating system. If you’re looking to setting up a dual graphics system, be sure to check these components’ specifications first. While this guide aims to simplify the process, every computer setup has its quirks and unique challenges. If you’re trying to set it up and run into problems, consider seeking advice from forums like Reddit, where many have shared similar experiences and solutions.