Make the most of the Surface Book's nVidia Discrete GPU
Since its debut, Microsoft Surface Book has sparked interest in consumers, especially in light of the mystery that is the new nVidia Discrete GPU, available in select Surface Book models.
According to what we know, this GPU has been customized by nVidia specifically for the Surface Book, based on a GeForce Maxwell GPU, featuring 1GB of GDDR5 RAM.
While the GPU has been designed specifically for productivity apps, such as Adobe Photoshop, or After Effects, the hardware seems to be able to handle gaming quite well, in spite of the fact that the native display resolution is restricted to 1080p, which won’t hold back those looking to connect external displays supporting higher resolutions.
Taking a page from the way MacBooks handle hybrid GPUs, Microsoft Surface Book is capable of automatically choosing the most appropriate graphic hardware according to usage. While this behavior can be safely left up to Windows 10’s best judgement, it can also customized to specific apps, by right-clicking on the desktop, and selecting “NVIDIA Control Panel”, which is an application specific to the customization of nVidia GPU settings.
Within the app, under 3D settings > Manage 3D settings, two tabs can be found. The Global Settings tab enables to control generic behaviors of the GPU that apply to all programs and system properties.
The Program Settings tab is where individual programs can be selected to automatically switch to using the Discrete GPU, instead of leaving it to the Surface Book’s best judgement.
NVIDIA GeForce Experience
While a fair amount can be achieved through the stock NVIDIA control panel that comes with the GPU’s own drivers, NVIDIA provides a more proprietary way to fine-tune its GPUs, with the NVIDIA GeForce Experience app, which can be downloaded for free, from the NVIDIA website.
Upon installation, the app will begin to scan for existing games on the system, and apply custom settings according to each game’s performance requirements.
On most systems, this app is capable of updating GPU drivers, however, given the custom nature of the GPU on the Surface Book, updating driver software is best left to Windows Update.