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Switchable Graphics on Notebooks Configured with Intel and ATI GPUs
This document contains information pertaining to specific HP notebook PCs configured with dual Intel and AMD graphics adapters.
Notebook computers with a switchable graphics feature have two graphics processing units (GPUs) - a power-saving, integrated GPU and a high-performance, discrete GPU. Computers with an Intel power-saving GPU and an ATI high-performance GPU combine the low power advantages of an integrated GPU with the maximum performance of a discrete GPU. Use this document to understand the difference between Dynamic and Fixed Mode switchable graphics and to learn how to use and configure switchable graphics on computers with dual Intel and ATI GPUs.
Understanding Dynamic and Fixed Mode switchable graphics
Depending on the model, HP computers with Intel and ATI switchable graphics will operate in one of two modes: Dynamic Mode or Fixed Mode. Earlier models supported Fixed Mode while later models support Dynamic Mode. Using the Fixed Mode drivers on a computer that supports Dynamic Mode will not work. Using Dynamic Mode drivers on a computer that supports Fixed Mode switchable graphics will not work. For the best performance in all configurations, keep your graphics drivers and software updated. See Obtaining Software and Drivers for more information.
You can determine whether your computer has Dynamic Mode or Fixed Mode switchable graphics by reviewing the available options on the Catalyst Control Center software switchable graphics screen. Read a section below for more information.
NOTE:
Information and graphics contained in this document are current at publication. Your Catalyst Control Center Software graphics may be different due to differing versions of the software.
Dynamic Mode
Computers with Dynamic Mode switchable graphics switch between the integrated, or power-saving, GPU and the discrete, or high-performance, GPU based on application needs. Specific applications are configured using the Catalyst Control Center software. If the Switchable Graphics screen allows application level settings, your computer has Dynamic Mode switchable graphics.
See the Changing Dynamic Mode switchable graphics default settings section of this document for more information on accessing the Catalyst Control Center software.
Figure : Catalyst Control Center - Dynamic Mode Switchable Graphics configuration screen
Image of a Catalyst Control Center Dynamic Mode Switchable Graphics configuration screen showing application level settings
NOTE:
Dynamic Mode switchable graphics were introduced in HP computers because Dynamic Mode preserves maximum battery life and is configurable based on your preferences. Dynamic Mode enables the computer to use both the integrated and discrete graphics processors without restarting or resetting the display. Some computers with Dynamic Mode switchable graphics can be set to operate in Fixed Mode by selecting Fixed Mode in the BIOS settings. See the OpenGL Applications Cannot Be Configured to Use the Discrete GPU support document for more information on changing BIOS settings on supported models.
Fixed Mode
Computers with Fixed Mode switchable graphics allow switching between the power-saving GPU and the high-performance GPU based on power source (battery or AC Adapter) or manually using the Catalyst Control Center software. All applications use the selected GPU. If the Switchable Graphics screen allows selecting either the high-performance or power-saving GPU, your computer has Fixed Mode switchable graphics.
See the Changing Fixed Mode switchable graphics default settings section of this document for more information on accessing the Catalyst Control Center software.
Figure : Catalyst Control Center - Fixed Mode Switchable Graphics configuration screen
Image of a Catalyst Control Center Fixed Mode Switchable Graphics configuration screen
Using Dynamic Mode switchable graphics with default settings
By default, a computer with Dynamic Mode switchable graphics uses the integrated, or power-saving, GPU for most applications. The computer will automatically switch to the discrete, or high-performance, GPU when an application requires more performance. Customers can configure which applications require the high-performance GPU by selecting the application in the Catalyst Control Center software. When an application is configured to use the high-performance GPU, the computer switches graphics solutions when the application is started or closed.
Changing Dynamic Mode switchable graphics default settings
On computers with an Intel power-saving GPU and an ATI high-performance GPU, Dynamic Mode switchable graphics is configured using the Catalyst Control Center software. If you do not have this software, or if you previously uninstalled it, see Obtaining Software and Drivers to learn how get the latest version.
To maximize the energy efficiency or if you typically use programs that have lower graphical requirements (such as word processing or spreadsheet programs), you do not need to make any changes to the settings in the Catalyst Control Center software. The computer uses the power-saving GPU by default for most applications. You can still run high-performance programs, videos, and games in default mode but you are likely to notice lower frame rates, dropped frames, and choppy animations and transitions.
Applications that have higher graphical requirements (such as 3D video games), work better using the high-performance GPU. Graphics intensive software, videos, and games run at their optimum settings using the high-performance GPU.
CAUTION:
Using the high-performance GPU on battery power will shorten the battery's effective usage time. The high-performance GPU generates a noticeable amount of heat while running graphics intensive software and, to keep the computer from overheating, the fan noise increases with increased fan use.
To change the default switchable graphics settings in the Catalyst Control Center software, follow the steps below.
  1. Click Start, type CCC in the Search field, and then select CCC from the search results list.
  2. On the Welcome screen, click Power, and then click Switchable Graphics.
    Figure : Catalyst Control Center - Welcome
    Image of the Welcome screen with Power and Switchable Graphics highlighted
  3. Select a Recent Application and click the green or red button to change the default graphic solution between power-saving and high-performance.
    Or click Browse to find the executable file for the application you need to configure.
    Figure : Catalyst Control Center - Dynamic Mode Switchable Graphics
    Catalyst Control Center Switchable Graphics window
  4. Click Apply to save the new settings.
    The changes take place immediately.
Dynamic Mode switchable graphics: OpenGL applications cannot be configured to use the discrete GPU
When configuring the Dynamic Mode switchable graphics in the Catalyst Control Center, some computers do not permit any OpenGL applications to be associated with the discrete, or high-performance, GPU. The OpenGL applications will work using the integrated, or power-saving, GPU, but performance levels may be lower than expected. HP has released an updated BIOS and AMD Graphics driver to enable Fixed Mode switchable graphics functionality for certain models originally configured with Dynamic Mode switchable graphics.
To find more information about the OpenGL limitations and to obtain the updated BIOS and driver see OpenGL Applications Cannot Be Configured to Use the Discrete GPU.
Using Fixed Mode switchable graphics with default settings
A computer with Fixed Mode switchable graphics default settings automatically prompts to switch between the high-performance and power-saving GPU when the power source changes. Read one of the following sections for more information.
External power (AC adapter connected)
By default, a computer with Fixed Mode switchable graphics uses the discrete, or high-performance, GPU while on external power to more easily handle graphically intense activities such as watching an HD movie or playing a 3D video game. The high-performance GPU is also used for programs that have lower graphical requirements (such as word processing or spreadsheet programs).
If the power source changes during computer operation (you disconnect the AC adapter), the computer automatically displays a prompt to confirm switching from the high-performance GPU to the power-saving GPU.
Click the Change button to switch from the high-performance GPU to the power-saving GPU, or click the Cancel button to continue using the high-performance GPU.
CAUTION:
Using the high-performance GPU on battery power will shorten the battery's effective usage time. The high-performance GPU generates a noticeable amount of heat while running graphics intensive software and, to keep the computer from overheating, the fan noise increases with increased fan use.
NOTE:
It is normal for your screen to flicker or go blank for a few seconds when switching graphics processors.
Figure : Switchable Graphics change confirmation
Image of the Switchable Graphics change confirmation window
Battery power (AC adapter disconnected)
By default, a computer with Fixed Mode switchable graphics on battery power uses the integrated, or power-saving, GPU to display all graphics, videos, and animations. This provides longer battery time, and the computer generates less heat. The high-performance GPU is turned off completely.
You can still run high-performance programs, videos, and games but you may notice lower frame rates, dropped frames, and choppy animations and transitions.
CAUTION:
Running high-performance programs on battery power may shorten the battery's effective usage time.
If the power source changes during computer operation (you connect the AC adapter), the computer will automatically display a prompt to confirm switching from the power-saving GPU to the high-performance GPU.
Click the Change button to switch to the high-performance GPU or click the Cancel button to continue using the power-saving GPU.
NOTE:
It is normal for your screen to flicker or go blank for a few seconds when switching graphics processors.
Figure : Switchable Graphics change confirmation
Image of the Switchable Graphics change confirmation window
Changing Fixed Mode switchable graphics default settings
The default switchable graphics settings can be changed in the Catalyst Control Center software installed on your computer. If you do not have this software, or if you previously uninstalled it, see Obtaining Software and Drivers to learn how get the latest version.
Available options in the Catalyst Control Center software vary based on whether the computer is on external power (AC adapter connected) or on battery power (AC adapter disconnected). Read a section below for more information.
External power (AC adapter connected)
To change switchable graphics settings while on external power, follow the steps below.
  1. Click Start, type CCC in the Search field, and then select CCC from the search results list.
  2. On the Welcome screen, click Power, and then click Switchable Graphics.
    Figure : Catalyst Control Center - Welcome
    Image of the Welcome screen with Power and Switchable Graphics highlighted
  3. On the Switchable Graphics screen, click the Power-saving GPU button.
    Figure : Catalyst Control Center - Fixed Mode Switchable Graphics
    Image of Switchable Graphics screen with the Power-saving GPU button highlighted
  4. When prompted, click the Change button.
    NOTE:
    It is normal for your screen to flicker or go blank for a few seconds when switching graphics processors.
    Figure : Switchable Graphics change confirmation
    Image of the Switchable Graphics change confirmation screen
    The Catalyst Control Center software screen will refresh to display fewer options in the navigation pane and the Power-saving GPU as the current active GPU.
    Figure : Catalyst Control Center - Power-saving GPU options
  5. To disable automatic switching based on power source, uncheck the Automatically select power-saving GPU when on battery option, and then click the Apply button.
    Figure : Catalyst Control Center - Disable automatic switching
  6. To reset the Catalyst Control Center back to default settings, click the Defaults button, and then click the Apply button.
Battery power (AC adapter disconnected)
To change switchable graphics settings while on battery power, follow the steps below.
  1. Click Start, type CCC in the Search field, and then select CCC from the search results list.
  2. On the Switchable Graphics screen, click the High-performance GPU button.
    Figure : Catalyst Control Center - Switchable Graphics
    Image of Switchable Graphics screen with the High-performance GPU button highlighted
  3. When prompted, click the Change button.
    NOTE:
    It is normal for your screen to flicker or go blank for a few seconds when switching graphics processors.
    Figure : Switchable Graphics change confirmation
    Image of the Switchable Graphics change confirmation screen
    The Catalyst Control Center software screen will refresh to display more options in the navigation pane and the High-performance GPU as the current active GPU.
    CAUTION:
    Using the high-performance GPU on battery power will shorten the battery's effective usage time. The high-performance GPU generates a noticeable amount of heat while running graphics intensive programs and the fans will run more to keep the computer cool enough.
    Figure : Catalyst Control Center - High-performance GPU options
  4. To disable automatic switching based on power source, uncheck the Automatically select power-saving GPU when on battery option, and then click the Apply button.
    Figure : Catalyst Control Center - Disable automatic switching
  5. To reset the Catalyst Control Center back to default settings, click the Defaults button, and then click the Apply button.