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Overview of Switchable Graphics or Dual GPUs

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This document pertains to HP and Compaq Notebook PCs.
Notebook computers with a switchable graphics feature have two graphics adapter chipsets - a low power, integrated chipset and a high performance, discrete chipset. Although the exact chipsets on your computer varies depending on model; the low power chipset is usually manufactured by Intel or AMD and the high performance chipset is usually manufactured by ATI Mobility Radeon or AMD.
HP computers with switchable graphics provide the following benefits to mobile computing:
  • When handling less demanding applications, the computer conserves power for longer battery life.
  • When using graphics-intense applications such as games, the discrete graphics processor enables higher performance.

Determine if your computer has switchable graphics

You can determine if your computer has switchable graphics by looking at the Desktop properties menu or the Display adapters in the Device manager. Use one of the following methods to determine if you have switchable graphics on your computer.
To see if your computer supports switchable graphics, right-click the desktop background. If one of the following options is available, then your computer supports switchable graphics.
Configure Switchable GraphicsConfigure AMD PowerXpress (TM)
To see if your computer supports switchable graphics, use Device Manager:
  1. Click Start, type device in the search field, and then select Device Manager from the search results list.
  2. Expand the Display adapters category.
    Figure 1: Display adapters in Device Manager
    Device manager with Display adapters expanded
If two Display adapters are present, switchable graphics are supported. If there is only one Display adapter listed, the computer does not support switchable graphics.

Types of switchable graphics

Computers with switchable graphics will operate in one of two modes: Fixed Mode or Dynamic 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.
NOTE:Dynamic Mode switchable graphics were introduced 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. Fixed Mode graphics require the customer to change the power state of the computer to enable the higher or lower power processor.
For the best performance in all configurations, be sure to keep your graphics drivers and software updated. See Obtaining Software and Drivers for more information.

More information about specific configurations

HP computers, depending on the model, have two different configurations of switchable graphics. For more specific information related to the configuration of dynamic and fixed mode, OpenGL and DirectX, see one of the following documents:

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