I have an Asus Z87 Deluxe motherboard, which has an integrated Intel HD 4600 GPU; I also have a nVidia GeForce GTX 560 TI graphics card; currently, my monitor is connected to the graphics card and the onboard GPU is unused.

If I connect the monitor to one of the motherboard video ports (it has both HDMI or DisplayPort), the video output will be handled by the onboard GPU; in this situation, can I still use the nVidia card to render graphics, f.e. in games? Or can it be used only when physically connected to a monitor?

The operating system is Windows 7 x64.


A program can access the dedicated graphics processor regardless of whether a display is attached to it, but additional software is needed to pass the output to the onboard GPU for display.

As the dedicated video card is still accessible to applications, the GPU could be used to render graphics and perform computations (like video transcoding and PhysX) as usual, but it won't be able to draw the output on the display unless you use a third-party program to send output to the onboard GPU. An example of such a program is Virtu MVP (now discontinued), which did this by intelligently abstracting onboard and dedicated GPUs so that applications see them as one device while taking full advantage of the unique features of each.

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In the scenario you describe, by default the on board graphics would be used. The game could not switch to offload the rendering of its graphics to the NVidia card. However, if the software/game had a specific setting for such a thing then this could be possible.

For example, when doing Raytracing with Adobe After Effects, my primary cards are ATI Radeons. However, I have also an unused NVidia card which handles the raytracing. Graphic and Video Editing applications sometimes have certain settings where you can offload your computation needs to a graphics card that is not currently in use by your monitors.

Another example would be using the NVidia card as a Dedicated Physx Card. While this may increase some performance, it would be application specific if this could be taken advantage of (typically moreso in games).

Another example would be H264 Rendering with NVENC-export where you can pass a job to the NVidia card to handling the transcoding calculations.

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  • So, you're saying this is not supported out-of-the-box by the motherboard or the O.S., and it's up to the specific software to take advantage of additional GPUs if it can? – Massimo May 30 '14 at 11:54

Yes - using something like lucid logix virtu/mvp in igpu mode. I seem to recall it comes bundled with many intel motherboards but they seem to sell a separate software package (well 3) with additional features.

It'll let you use your iGPU as your primary output, render and pass on things like games from your dGPU to your iGPU and power it down when not needed.

This will work without a physical monitor plugged into your discrete gpu

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Unless you use 3rd party softwares, Graphics rendered by your GTX 560 Ti need to be outputted by it's Ports, but work can still be made by your GTX 560 Ti and be worth something without having a monitor plugged-in, just not live output from your video games.

Your on-board GPU is most commonly a part of your CPU, It will most probably be an intel HD 4000 or something like that, which is technically from inside your processor chip. Using your "on-board GPU" is using a GPU Built-in your CPU Chip, what is on-board now a days is the hardware to connect that GFX part of your CPU to the ports and features offered by your motherboard depending on the architecture.

About your "On-board Gpu"

  • Different processors will offer different features from the "on-board Gpu".
  • Using your "On-board Gpu" increase your overall cpu temperature.
  • If no monitors is plugged in your Motherboard ports, the "On-board Gpu" is still powered on, you need to disable it from your bios in order to save power and resources.
  • In your bios you can as well set the "On-board Gpu" primary or secondary.
  • Your "On-board Gpu" take most of it's video Ram off your Computer Ram.
  • If you have an HDTV you can use your "On-board Gpu" to play videos off it, without affecting much of your game Performance while you play or work on the GTX 560.
  • If you have something plugged in the "On-board Gpu" And in the "Add-on Card" POST Text will show on the first plugged Port of the "Primary card", the one your have chosen in your Bios,
  • Windows Login, will first show off first plugged Port of the Primary card. If you set another monitor to be the primary in the windows preference after that first login, the login screen should show off that chosen monitor.

About The add-on Card (GTX 560 TI)

  • Your GTX 560 TI is much better then the intel HD 4000 for playing games.
  • Your GTX 560 has it's own Video Memory.
  • You may plug more then one monitor off your GTX 560 TI, more monitor will somewhat increase the load off your graphic card, but not by much.
  • If your "On-board Gpu" is set as Primary in the Bios, no POST text will show off your monitors plugged in the GTX 560 TI. Windows will still detect that you only have one monitor plugged in. And the login screen will eventually show up on your GTX 560.
  • If no monitors are plugged in your GTX 560 TI it will still be using it's "idle" power
  • If no monitors are plugged in your GTX 560 TI, you still can use it for specific task, like Coin mining, or Folding @ Home.

Let me know if you want more infos about those differences.

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  • Hello, I know very well all of the things you mentioned, but thanks for mentioning them anyway; however, you missed the point of the question, which was about how to use (if possible) the GPU on an add-on card to render video output if the monitor is plugged in to the motherboard instead of the add-on card. – Massimo May 30 '14 at 11:52
  • Unless you use the described software below, it is impossible, but like my explanation's tell you, nothing stops you from using a 2nd monitor on that card. It's probably better anyway. Cauze if you dont use it for the aforementioned use's, Which are, Video Editing, Folding, mining your wasting power, by just having it plugged and not using it the same goes with your on board GPU, you will consume more power for less performance. – GuruJR Jun 3 '14 at 6:06

I am currnetly doing this, without any extra software. My strategy is to plug something into a port on the video card, while plugging my monitor into the on-board VGA port. What I got was Windows 10 extending the Desktop onto that monitor. As long as I leave it extended and don't make the monitor the "main" monitor, it works. albeit with caveats.

I had to disable extending the taskbar on both monitors, and then blindly drag the taskbar from the monitor I can't see to the one I can. I also dragged all the desktop icons over, which took some trial and error (Ctrl-A to select, and just guess where an icon is).

There is still also the problem that an app may launch on the "other monitor." To fix that, I select the app in the taskbar and then use the Windows hotkays to move it to my monitor, either Win+Shift-Left or Win-Shift-Right.

To prevent the mouse from moving from monitor to monitor, I rearranged them so that the other screen was diagonally top-left of the main one in the Display Properties (right click on Desktop or just search for it), as I don't tend to use the top right corner. If the mouse does wind up offscrreen,moving down and right very quickly will bring it back.

Finally, while I'm not sure it's absolutely required, I used the "Advanced display settings" option in the Display Settings to set my games and web browser to Run in "high performance" mode, to make sure they use the GPU and not the onboard graphics.

Yes, all this is quite tedious, but it gives me a temporary solution after my HDMI-to-VGA active adapter stopped working after a couple of years. It allows me to still use my computer until I can get a replacement.

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