Can I force Steam to use my Nvidia GPU instead of the integrated Intel card?

I have 2 graphics cards in my laptop (Alienware M11X); the first is the default Intel graphics card, and the second is a high perf Nvidia card.

I would like to play my Steam games with the Nvidia card (namely Half Life 2, Ep1), but it keeps playing with the Intel card. This is what is shown everytime I start the game:

Using intel card

I have tried starting steam.exe with the Nvidia card, but that doesn’t change the card the game uses. I have also tried setting the Nvidia card to the default card to use for all programs, but the game still does not use it. Is there a way for me to do this?


I have a similar computer set up, and here is how I make it work:

  1. Go to the NVIDIA Control Panel by right clicking on your desk top and clicking on “NVIDIA Control Panel”.

  2. In the default screen that pops up (it should be “manage 3D settings”, and the “Program Settings” tab should be automatically selected), under “1. Select a program to customize:” hit the “Add” button.

  3. From here, navigate to the folder where your steam games are located. For me, it is C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common.

  4. Select the folder for the game you want to use your NVIDIA card for, and find the .exe for that game (it’s usually right in the main game folder). Select it and hit open.

  5. Then, under “2. Select the preferred graphics processor for this program:” open the drop-down menu and select “High-performance NVIDIA processor”.

  6. Finally, hit apply in the far bottom right corner, and you should be good to go!

When you start the game from Steam, the .exe will be opened, which will now run with your NVIDIA card by default rather than your integrated card. I’ve noticed that most older games, when started, will use the integrated card by default. The method described above can be used for any .exe file, not just games in your steam library!

Source : Link , Question Author : LynchDev , Answer Author : Henry2626

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