How to turn hardware acceleration on and off in Chrome

Downloads Google Chrome on a desktop computer
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Google Chrome features hardware acceleration, a feature that utilizes your computer’s GPU to speed up processes and free up vital CPU time. Sometimes, however, driver incompatibility can cause this feature to behave incorrectly, and disabling it can save you a few headaches.

What is hardware acceleration in Chrome?

Hardware acceleration refers to when a program uses a computer’s hardware to perform some functions more efficiently than is possible in the software. The hardware is designed to perform some functions faster than software running on the CPU alone.

In Chrome, hardware acceleration uses your computer’s graphics processing unit (GPU) to tackle graphics-heavy tasks, such as playing videos, games, or anything else that requires faster math calculations. Delivering specific tasks gives your CPU a chance to work tirelessly on everything else while the GPU handles processes that it is designed to run.

While this sounds good in most cases, hardware acceleration can sometimes cause Chrome to lag, freeze, or crash – it can even drain your laptop’s battery much faster. Since everyone’s computer is a little different, the problem may be in the GPU or driver associated with it. If you suspect that hardware acceleration is the culprit, the best thing to do is disable it and see if it solves the problem.

To turn hardware acceleration on or off

By default, hardware acceleration is enabled in Chrome, so first let’s disable it.

Turn on Chrome, click the menu icon, and then click “Settings.” Alternatively, you can write chrome://settings/ into the omni field to go directly there.

Click the Menu button, and then click Settings

In the Settings menu, expand the “Advanced” drop-down menu in the left sidebar and then select “System.”

Expand "Advanced" submenu and select "System"

Find the “Use hardware acceleration when available” option. Change the switch to “Off”, then click “Restart” to apply the changes.

Warning: Be sure to save everything you work on. Chrome reopens the tabs that were opened before rebooting, but does not store any of the data in them.

On / Off Use hardware acceleration when available to the Off position, and then click Restart to apply the change

If you’d rather wait to restart Chrome and finish everything you’re working on, just close the tab. Chrome will apply the change the next time you close and reopen it.

To confirm that it has been completely disabled, type chrome://gpu/ enter the omni field and press Enter. Once hardware acceleration has been disabled, most of the items under “Graphics Feature Status” will read “Software only, hardware acceleration disabled.”

List of features that use hardware acceleration.  Note that a majority of them indicate that hardware acceleration is disabled

If you want to enable – or re-enable – hardware acceleration, go back to chrome://settings/system and change the “Use hardware acceleration when available” setting to the “On” position. Then click “Restart” to apply the change.

To re-enable, switch Use Hardware Acceleration, when available, to the On position and then click Restart

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