Consider having a upper mid-level gaming desktop PC that is (also) being used for casual work like text-editing, browsing, audio playback.

Could disabling the GPU (via "Disable device" in Window's Device Manager) cause a net decrease of power consumption?
Or would I need to remove the external GPU entirely, and plug my display cables into the mother board to actually have an (positive or negative) effect?
How would video playback affect the energy balance? Can an external GPU render video more efficiently (not performant) than the CPU's built-in graphics unit?

  • Your GPU should already clock itself back if it's not needed. Mine right now is ticking over at about ¼ of its clock speed, fans inaudible, desktop & 'static' apps running at a magnificent 2 fps. Memory is reasonably full, but that's not an issue at all, that's normal. i.sstatic.net/K6mUP.png
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Feb 27, 2021 at 16:55
  • @Tetsujin yes, I am aware, that the GPU controls itself depending on workload. However, I still wonder if the base consumption that's caused by simply having the GPU running is possibly higher, than the additional power usage that was caused by the CPU doing the little graphics work.
    – Reizo
    Commented Feb 27, 2021 at 17:35
  • If you disable the GPU you wouldn’t have a display. “Could disabling the GPU (via "Disable device" in Window's Device Manager) cause a net decrease of power consumption?” - No
    – Ramhound
    Commented Feb 27, 2021 at 17:53
  • @Ramhound sorry but this is not true. You can indeed disable the GPU and still have a screen. You'll just notice that the UI is not running so smooth anymore.
    – Reizo
    Commented Feb 27, 2021 at 18:02
  • 1
    @harrymc Intel Core processors generally have a graphics unit built-in. Some AMD Ryzen CPUs do as well. These are what I refer to as "built-in GPU".
    – Reizo
    Commented Feb 27, 2021 at 21:44

1 Answer 1


When not running an intensive workload on the GPU, the GPU uses only a tiny small fraction of its maximum designed power. Physically removing the GPU from the system will eliminate this power use.

Disabling a desktop GPU in the Device Manager only disables the driver. This may increase your overall power utilization:

  1. Although most power control of the GPU is handled by firmware, disabling the driver may disable some power saving features managed by the driver
  2. Disabling the GPU will increase CPU workload
    • Basic OS rendering will fall back to software mode, which will degrade your visual experience, and may be more less power efficient than the GPU
    • Video playback will be run in software mode on the CPU which may be less power efficient than the dedicated hardware within modern GPUs

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .