My problem is similar to the following question: How can I prevent Windows from disabling Aero?

I did not have enough rep to post a comment, but my question is somewhat different anyways.

It is different because of my setup and when the problem occurs. I have 8 gb ram. I use an HD 6990 to run a 30 inch panel. I also have two side panels hooked into the intel hd 3000 available from my processor. The side panels are 1920x1080 and the main monitor is 2560x1600.

Whenever I use one of the side panels, Windows 7 "detects slow performance" and disables aero. This occurs under just about any usage... even web browsing using firefox if flash is playing on the screen. However it is incorrectly determining slow performance. Task manager typically reports 27-33% physical memory usage (over 5 gb still available) when this happens. I checked and the intel graphics manager reports that it is using 112 mb of memory. It also reports that it has up to 3736 MB available. I know that it shares system memory but there is over 5 gb unused.

Is there any way to disable this obnoxious "feature"? I like aero and I don't ever want it to turn off. Is it possible to tell aero which graphics card to check for performance metrics? I am not interested in the speed of my side panels... otherwise I would hook them up to my primary graphics card. But it seems like a bug with aero since the intel driver is reporting 3 gigs of unused graphics memory available.

  • Yes, Windows 7 64bit. My main display is connected via dvi to the 6990. The side panels are connected to the motherboard video outputs. My first side panel is connected via a dvi to hdmi cable. The second side panel is connected via a dvi to mini display port adapter (active adapter).
    – user319862
    Feb 24, 2012 at 18:43
  • Oh... I said in my question that I was using a HD 6990 (dual ATI card) and Intel 3000 graphics (integrated into the i5-2500k)
    – user319862
    Feb 24, 2012 at 19:05
  • 1
    You could get an additional cheap card for one side panel and hook up the other side panel to the internal Intel HD 3000. It could improve the performance by not overloading the internal HD 3000 with two side panels to take care of. Just a suggestion. Btw, Crossfiring or SLI is not required for this.
    – ADTC
    Feb 24, 2012 at 19:18
  • @ADTC: That isn't a very good suggestion and it doesn't answer my question. You are also just reposting that comment from below. I don't think web browsing is "overloading" the intel hd 3000 chip either.
    – user319862
    Feb 24, 2012 at 19:25
  • I'm sorry, yea it's not a direct answer to your question. Just a suggestion to boost performance. But Windows does think the web browsing (or even just drawing two extra desktops on one card) is overloading the HD 3000. It will only shut off Aero if the hardware can't handle it.
    – ADTC
    Feb 24, 2012 at 19:33

4 Answers 4


I'm guessing you almost always have a browser open, like a lot of folks I know. I've seen this problem in both Internet Explorer and Firefox when running a browser on a display attached to a secondary GPU. The fix for that is to disable hardware acceleration in the browser - it doesn't always play nicely with DWM for some reason. (I seriously doubt you'll see any performance hit as a result of this).

It's possible there are other things going on, but some idea of what's ALWAYS running would be helpful to pin it down.

  • I'd also note that the 'slow performance' is not really incorrect. That's not based on system performance as a whole, but PURELY on metrics within DWM itself. DWM might be running slowly even though everything else on the system is okay, but Aero doesn't care about anything other than DWM.
    – Shinrai
    Feb 24, 2012 at 16:28
  • 1
    Its also worthy to note that System memory throughput and VRAM throughput are worlds apart. Feb 24, 2012 at 17:09
  • 1
    I can't upvote your answer because I do not have enough reputation. Disabling hardware acceleration in firefox allows me to use firefox on the secondary monitor without making windows swap to basic mode. I am going to wait for a little while to mark this as accepted in case someone has a provides solution that works for everything.
    – user319862
    Feb 24, 2012 at 19:02
  • Got enough rep to upvote =)
    – user319862
    Feb 24, 2012 at 19:10
  • 2
    For what it's worth, I've bugged this in the past as well, but I really suspect it's Microsoft's problem so I don't know that there's much they can do. ;_; I suspect it will be fixed for Windows 8 though. It's very specifically a problem with DWM; you can see its usage and handles spike right before this happens, and it won't always release them properly either.
    – Shinrai
    Feb 24, 2012 at 20:13

There's a problem with Displayport in combination with Aero. Try Windows Aero without the displayport (DVI > Displayport adapter should do the trick). That did work for me at least.

  • could you please expand? What is the exact problem of DisplayPort in combination with Aero? Thanks. Sep 22, 2014 at 13:44

Have you tried forcing Windows to have Aero enabled?

  1. Right-click Computer in the Start Menu > Properties
  2. Advanced System Settings on left
  3. Settings button in the Performance section (the one at the top)
  4. Choose Adjust for best appearance (You can also choose Custom and select the options you want in the list below. The Aero option is a combination of desktop composition, transparent glass and visual styles if I'm not wrong.)
  5. OK > OK.
  • This won't actually keep this from happening. See, for example, this answer. If DWM can't handle the load, Windows will ALWAYS disable it - the alternative is a complete UI meltdown, after all. That just lets you force it on very low-end systems where they don't recommend it for performance reasons, but it does function.
    – Shinrai
    Feb 24, 2012 at 18:34
  • You would probably need to get an additional card. (Try to get same model as existing card if it supports CrossFireX-like technology or SLI.) It's not enough to have loads of memory. Your GPU needs to be fast enough to handle the load. From what I know, internal graphics (built in motherboard, using main processor) is usually not good enough. [When I built a desktop, I didn't mind everything else being on motherboard, but I went for a graphics card without a second thought. When I tested the internal graphics out of curiosity, it sucked bad!]
    – ADTC
    Feb 24, 2012 at 18:40
  • Intel HD 3000 should be more than adequate to the load in the example given.
    – Shinrai
    Feb 24, 2012 at 18:58
  • Yes I have done this. It doesn't work. I do not need to SLI my graphics card for this... The HD 6990 is two 6970s to begin with. The point is that I am not stressing the integrated graphics.
    – user319862
    Feb 24, 2012 at 19:09
  • [This is reply to Shinrai] Perhaps so. It will depend on the CPU as well since Intel HD uses the graphics processor built in the CPU. Also, the asker is hooking up two display panels on the slower of the two graphics solutions he/she has (probably coz that's where there are two ports anyway). He/she could get an additional cheap card for one side panel and hook up the other side panel to the internal Intel HD 3000.
    – ADTC
    Feb 24, 2012 at 19:09

I only have a german windows so i can tell the german names and a translatio without knowing the exact englisch names.

rightclick at the desktop -> the last option "Anpassen" (customize/adapt)
This opens the control panel where you can chose between designs. If there is an aero design active then at the bottom windows states something about a disabled aero. If clicked it offers to look to solve the problem. After clicking and waiting a moment windows actually solves the problem (it said something about a disabled/halted window manager).

Btw I think that was the first time that windows integrated problem solving mechanisms really helped me.

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