Hardware acceleration - what it is and how you can improve PC performance with it

Most likely, you have seen the “hardware acceleration” option when using various applications and devices. You may even need to enable or disable it to improve performance or prevent errors in one of your favorite applications, but you may not know why. In this article we will tell you everything you need to know about hardware acceleration, and whether your applications can use it.

What is hardware acceleration

Hardware acceleration is a term used to describe downloadable tasks on other devices. By default, in most computers and applications, the central processor is predominantly busy, above all other hardware. This is quite normal, especially if you have a powerful processor. Otherwise it may be useful to use other components of your system. Then the function is activated. Here are some popular usage examples:

  • using AU, you can use sound cards to provide high quality and sound recording;
  • graphics cards can be used with hardware accelerated graphics to provide faster and better display of multimedia.

What is browser hardware acceleration? In a word, this is the ability of a program to view Internet pages to display their contents as quickly and efficiently as possible. Although hardware acceleration can be defined as virtually any task that is unloaded on something that is not a CPU, graphics processors and sound cards are usually the most popular examples used in your software. Only your processor is technically capable of anything that these devices can do, especially if it boasts integrated graphics (as many do today), but as a rule, the use of specialized hardware is the best option.

Using the power of a graphical layout to display dynamically changing web content, i.e. the so-called hardware acceleration, is undoubtedly one of the most interesting new products introduced in Firefox 4 and Internet Explorer 9. According to the developers of these browsers, using a graphics processor will allow unprecedented performance so far, fast and smooth operation of Internet applications using modern technologies. At the same time, it will help reduce the load on the processor, which is less capable of doing calculations related to graphics processing. This will directly affect the operation of the entire system, and in the case of laptops, also the duration of work without power supply. Microsoft adds improvements in the quality of text and images displayed on the screen and when printed on the page. A separate problem is the use of a graphic layout for rendering 3D graphics using the WebGL API.

The use of GPUs in browsers is not possible anytime, anywhere and on every computer. The main limitations are related to the operating system: currently, the beta versions of both browsers only support Windows Vista, 7 and 10. In the case of Internet Explorer 9, it will not change even in the final version, but Mozilla promises to implement solutions running on other platforms. The only system missed by both manufacturers is Windows XP.

Why you may need to turn it off

Here are times when you should probably turn off hardware acceleration:

  • if your processor is really powerful and the other components of the system are not performing well, the acceleration may actually be inefficient compared to letting the power supply take care of the PC resources. In addition, if your components are subject to overheating or are damaged in any way, heavy use of hardware acceleration can cause problems that you would not have experienced without it;
  • software designed to use hardware does not work well or cannot work as stable as using only the processor.

When to use it

Of course, hardware acceleration is not so bad. When working as intended, it is actually very effective. Here are some cases where you have to enable hardware acceleration in your applications:

  1. When you have a powerful, stable graphics processor, turning on hardware acceleration will allow you to use it fully in all supported applications, not just in games. In Chrome, hardware acceleration of the GPU usually provides much smoother viewing and multimedia consumption.
  2. In video editing / rendering programs such as Sony Vegas (or streaming programs such as OBS), enabling hardware acceleration allows you to use specialized hardware that resides on supported devices, usually on a graphics processor or CPU. (For example, Intel QuickSync is an addition to their modern processors, designed for fast rendering and video encoding).

How to check if hardware acceleration is enabled

On the desktop, right-click - Screen resolution - Advanced settings - Diagnostics - Change settings. If the button is inactive, hardware acceleration is enabled.

For Windows 10, using hardware acceleration: Win + R - dxdiag - Screen - Accelerate DirectDraw, Accelerate Direct3D, Accelerate AGP textures - all 3 parameters must be in the ON state. Otherwise, hardware acceleration is disabled.

Hardware Acceleration Activation Procedure

How to enable hardware acceleration on Windows 7? For some reason, you may need to enable hardware acceleration, for example, to run an Android emulator in Visual Studio. Just log into your computer BIOS (Settings - Update and Security - Recovery). In the Advanced Start section, click Restart Now, and your computer will restart. This also works on Windows 10.

After reboot, click “Troubleshooting” - “Advanced Settings” - “UEFI Firmware Settings” - “Reboot”.

You will be presented with a BIOS user interface, go to the "Configuration" section. Just check that virtualization technology, such as the Intel Virtual Technology or AMD-V Virtualization accelerator, is enabled. Then go to the final section “Exit”, and click “Exit and save changes”. You now have hardware acceleration.

Chrome hardware acceleration. What gives and how to turn it on?

Google Chrome allows you to use a graphics card for rendering and scaling graphics on websites. This speeds up the browser and unloads the processor. Learn how to use this feature!

The advantages of enabling hardware acceleration will be felt, in particular, by users with weaker computers or the simultaneous use of several dozen tabs. To enable this feature, enter the "about: flags" command in the address bar.

The first step is to enable the accelerated layout option using a graphics processor (Override software rendering list). Immediately below — another — the 2D processor is accelerated using a graphics processor (Accelerated 2D canvas), which must also be turned on. Chrome 11 users will not be able to use the first option - in this version of the browser it is enabled by default.

Below there is another feature - the initial rendering of websites. It must also be enabled. The last step is to restart the browser.

How to disable hardware acceleration

This function mainly refers to the use of PC components to perform a specific action (usually performed by software) as quickly as possible. This is intended to make the graphics on the computer smoother and faster by unloading the graphic rendering functions on the video card of the computer instead of the software and its central processing unit (CPU). The idea of ​​Hardware Acceleration is to speed up video processing, providing better performance.

At the first stage, the Direct2D and DirectWrite libraries are used to render the page content, which results in smoother edges of text and vector graphics. Also improved the rendering performance of ordinary page elements, such as images, borders and background blocks. In addition, if the video is embedded on the page using the H.264 codec, you can also process the video card. At this stage, acceleration works in both Internet Explorer 9 and Firefox 4.

At this stage, Microsoft's browser uses a new decoding mechanism for compressed graphic files, which also supports the TIFF format and the created Microsoft JPEG XR. The latter should be the successor of the JPEG format, providing the best ratio “image to file”. A more complex algorithm requires more processing power, so using a GPU for this purpose is the ideal solution.

Creating a page or combining its elements is performed using Direct3D libraries. Component images (created in the previous step) are stored in the memory of a graphics card, so you can quickly assemble them into a single whole. So far, only in Internet Explorer, in the future also in Firefox 4.

Creating the resulting image, that is, the entire desktop with a browser window and its contents, is performed using the Windows Vista system component and the 7-Desktop Window Manager (DWM). Due to the fact that it uses DirectX libraries, it can directly use the existing image memory, which represents the content of the page and integrates it into the desktop without having to load the RAM (which happens if the browser does not use graphic libraries).

Internet Explorer 9 also has a new page processing engine for printing - XPS. This not only allows you to quickly apply all layers and create one image from them, but also improves its quality. For example, all kinds of diagrams will look better.

How to disable hardware acceleration in Windows 7? Despite the fact that Windows does not initially use this feature, it is quite easy to disable it yourself. Deactivation of Hardware Acceleration will lead to the launch of software in the format of program rendering - all graphics are displayed by programs, and work on graphic rendering will be transferred to the GPU.

How to disable hardware acceleration in Yandex Browser? You need to go to the settings, go down to the bottom of the page, enable advanced options. Then find the System section and uncheck "Use hardware acceleration, if possible." After rebooting the browser, the changes will take effect.

To disable hardware acceleration in Chrome, use the instruction for Yandex Yandex browser - they have identical settings. If, after rebooting the browser, the problems persist, try the following:

  • in the address bar, enter "chrome: // flags" and press Enter;
  • In the list of settings, turn off “Hardware acceleration for video decoding” and restart the program.

After a reboot, problems with acceleration will disappear. To disable the function in the opera, you also need to go to the settings, select additional parameters and in the system section, uncheck the “Use hardware acceleration” box.

To disable flash player acceleration, open any flash application, click on it with the right mouse button and uncheck the necessary function. Restart your browser.

How to disable hardware acceleration in Firefox

Next, we will explain how to disable hardware acceleration in Mozilla Firefox browser. This can be effective, for example, if you have problems with the graphics controller, which causes the browser to work unstable or slow, and the elements of the pages you visit are incorrectly displayed.

Hardware acceleration is not supported by all drivers - in some cases there may be problems with loading items on the page. Therefore, if you find that when using the browser, the pages load slowly, and there are problems with the launch of individual pages, disable hardware acceleration. This should solve all the problems.

  1. After opening the Mozilla Firefox browser, click on the icon of three horizontal bars and select Settings.
  2. Then go to the “Advanced” tab and uncheck the “Use recommended performance settings” checkbox if it is available in the “General” field.

  3. Click "Close" and restart the browser.

If the problem is solved, it means that it is the hardware problem that caused the browser to malfunction.