How can I verify my dedicated graphics card is being used?

Posted on 2014-10-05
Last Modified: 2014-11-01
If I started a game to play how do I know the graphics card is being used?
If its not being utilized then how do I make it my default display?

(I tried playing a few games and have to lower the graphic's performance drastically which makes me believe the computer is not using the dedicated graphics.)

edited specsdisplay prefbuilt-in driver intelnvidia dedicated graphics
Thanks in advance!

Question by:Wooky Jack
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LVL 92

Assisted Solution

nobus earned 50 total points
ID: 40363094
connect a display to it and see how it performs?
LVL 47

Accepted Solution

noxcho earned 300 total points
ID: 40363132
By default, the "Mid-2010," "Early 2011," "Late 2011" and "Mid-2012" MacBook Pro models -- automatically switch between graphics processors depending on need and no restarting is required.

For example, if one is typing a document or listening to music, then the system is designed to use the integrated graphics to conserve battery life and it should only kick the dedicated graphics card into gear when you plug in an external display or it is needed for graphics intensive tasks such as gaming or 3D animation (any application that uses OpenGL or Core Graphics among other technologies).

Earlier "Late 2008" and "Mid-2009" MacBook Pro models equipped with dual graphics processors do not automatically switch between the two depending on need and require a manual switch.
Taken from here:

A tool called gfxCardStatus allows to switch it manually:

Assisted Solution

Mdragga earned 150 total points
ID: 40364395
What games have you been trying to play? The Nvidia 650M is better than the integrated Intel Graphics but if you're expecting to play a very demanding/recent game on it you're still going to need to scale back the detail settings considerably, especially since yours only has 512MB of memory.

From -

MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2012)
Open System Profiler by choosing About this Mac from the Apple menu, then click More Info.
Select the "Graphics/Displays" item in the Hardware section. Two entries should appear under Video Card: Intel HD Graphics 4000 and Nvidia GeForce GT 650M.
Click Intel HD Graphics 4000.
Read the detail view under Displays.
If the detail says Color LCD and Display Connector, you are in Intel HD Graphics 4000 mode.
If the detail says only "Display Connector:  Status: No Display Connected," you are in Nvidia GeForce GT 650M.
Click Nvidia GeForce GT 650M.
Read the detail view under "Displays".
If the detail says Color LCD and Display Connector, you are in Nvidia GeForce GT 650M Graphics mode.
If the detail says only "Display Connector:  Status: No Display Connected," you are in Intel HD Graphics 4000 mode.
To update the information in the window, refresh the System Profiler screen by pressing Command-R.
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Author Comment

by:Wooky Jack
ID: 40371607
Sorry for the delay.  I will review the comments shortly.

Author Comment

by:Wooky Jack
ID: 40371730
@nobus, I am not able to connect a display to say my tv, but I do have Apple tv where I can air play.  Is this what you mean?

@noxcho, thanks for the information.  Does this mean I can use gfxCardStatus at will with my version of macbook?

@mdragga, I play Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress 2 and Star Craft 2 every now and then.  I guess I just never expected having a dedicated graphics would require me to lower the resolution and game video settings to low/medium, you know?
LVL 47

Expert Comment

ID: 40371779
According to the description yes, you can use it with your version. Just try it.

Expert Comment

ID: 40372172
L4D (2?) and TF2 are both Steam games that have been out for awhile. I'd imagine the 650M should handle them at your stock resolution. SC2 can get pretty intensive depending on the map/player combination (those Protoss Carriers generate a lot of ships!) but it usually runs into CPU bottlenecks before the GPU.

Sadly not all dedicated graphics are created equal, especially when dealing with laptop models. This site can probably give you more information about your 650M than you ever cared for though they don't go into specifics about the 512MB vs 1GB models.

This might be reaching, but are you sure the fan and heatsink is clear of dust and not covered? Proper airflow is important to all performance and if it can't breathe is may be throttling itself.
LVL 92

Expert Comment

ID: 40372317
i mean : if you connect a display to the other card, you see if it is used

Author Closing Comment

by:Wooky Jack
ID: 40388040
Thanks for the help I appreciate it very much!

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