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High GPU Usage by Desktop Window Manager

Running into a high GPU usage problem due to the Desktop Window Manager (dwm.exe) on your Windows system can be quite frustrating. This issue is not uncommon, especially among Windows 10 and Windows 11 users. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the root causes behind the desktop window manager high GPU usage problem and present you with a selection of tested solutions.

Understanding the Desktop Window Manager High GPU Usage Problem

Before we dive into the solutions, it’s crucial to grasp what the Desktop Window Manager (DWM.exe) is and why it might be causing high GPU usage on your PC.

What is Desktop Window Manager (DWM.exe)?

Desktop Window Manager (DWM) is a core process in Windows operating systems, responsible for rendering user interface elements, including the control of transparency effects, animations, window borders, and other visual effects. With such functionality, DWM naturally uses resources from your system’s Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) to deliver these visual effects.

Why Does Desktop Window Manager Cause High GPU Usage?

A variety of factors can contribute to the high GPU usage issue with the Desktop Window Manager. Some of the common causes include:

  • Outdated or corrupted graphics drivers
  • GPU Power Management settings in the Control Panel
  • Background programs utilizing significant GPU resources
  • Windows appearance or auto-scaling settings
  • Malware presence on your computer
  • GPU features such as HDR or HAGS (Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling) being active

Comprehensive Fixes for Desktop Window Manager High GPU Usage

Now that we understand the issue at hand, let’s delve into the various solutions you can implement to resolve the desktop window manager high GPU usage problem. We’ll start with updating your Windows system and move on to more complex solutions.

1. Update Windows System

Running the latest version of Windows ensures that you benefit from the most recent bug fixes, features, and compatible drivers for your hardware components. To update your Windows system, follow these steps:

  • Use the keyboard shortcut “Windows + I” to open the Settings app.
  • Navigate to “Windows Update” and click on “Check for Updates”.
  • Windows will automatically download and install any available updates. If prompted, restart your PC to complete the installation process.

2. Update Graphics Drivers

Graphics drivers play an integral role in the functioning of the GPU. Outdated or corrupted drivers can often lead to the high GPU usage problem. Therefore, it’s crucial to keep your graphics drivers updated. Here’s how:

  • Open Device Manager using the “Windows + X” keyboard shortcut.
  • Expand the “Display adapters” section.
  • Right-click on your GPU and select “Update driver”.
  • Follow the prompts to search for and install any available driver updates.

3. Run System Maintenance Troubleshooter

Windows has built-in troubleshooters that can help identify and fix common problems. Running the System Maintenance Troubleshooter can potentially fix the high GPU usage issue. Here’s how:

  • Open the Control Panel and switch the view to “Icons”.
  • Click on “Troubleshooting” and then “View all”.
  • Find and click on “System Maintenance”.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions to run the troubleshooter.

4. Change Display and Personalization Settings

Display and personalization settings can significantly influence the GPU resources utilized by the Desktop Window Manager. Therefore, tweaking these settings can help resolve the issue. Here’s how:

  • Right-click on your desktop and select “Personalize”.
  • In the Settings app that opens, navigate to the “Colors” section and turn off “Transparency effects”.
  • Next, under the “Background” section, select “Solid color” as your background. This reduces the GPU load as it doesn’t have to render complex graphics for the background.

5. Disable Fast Startup

The Fast Startup feature, while useful for booting your PC quickly, can sometimes cause high GPU usage issues. Disabling this feature can potentially resolve the problem. Here’s how:

  • Press “Windows + X” and select “Power Options”.
  • Click on “Choose what the power buttons do”.
  • Click on “Change settings that are currently unavailable”.
  • Under the “Shutdown settings” section, uncheck “Turn on fast startup (recommended)” and click “Save changes”.

6. Turn Off Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling (HAGS)

The Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling (HAGS) feature is designed to improve your GPU’s performance and reduce latency. However, it can sometimes cause high GPU usage. Disabling this feature can help resolve the problem. Here’s how:

  • Right-click on your desktop and select “Display Settings”.
  • Under the “Advanced Display settings” section, click on “Graphics settings”.
  • Toggle off the “Hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling” option.

7. Scan for Malware and Disable Third-Party Antivirus

Malware can often cause high GPU usage problems. Running a full system scan can help identify and remove any potential threats. Additionally, third-party antivirus software can sometimes cause high GPU usage. If you have any installed, try disabling them temporarily to see if it resolves the issue.

8. Adjust Visual Effects Settings

Visual effects on your Windows system can consume significant GPU resources. Adjusting these settings for optimal performance can help reduce GPU usage. Here’s how:

  • Open System Properties by right-clicking “This PC” and choosing “Properties”.
  • Click on “Advanced system settings”.
  • Under the “Performance” section, click on “Settings”.
  • In the window that opens, select “Adjust for best performance” and click “OK”.

9. Use System Restore or Reset Your PC

If none of the above solutions work, you can consider using a system restore point or resetting your PC. Both options can help resolve any deep-rooted issues causing high GPU usage. However, remember to back up crucial data before proceeding as these methods can lead to data loss.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my GPU running at 100%?

Your GPU might run at 100% when executing graphically intensive tasks such as gaming or 3D designing. However, if your GPU usage is constantly high even when not performing such tasks, it could be due to issues with your GPU drivers, power management settings, or other factors.

What is the ideal GPU usage?

Ideal GPU usage varies depending on the task at hand. For instance, while running high-end games or 3D rendering software, it’s normal for the GPU usage to be close to or at 100%. However, for regular tasks or when the system is idle, the GPU usage should be lower.

Can high GPU usage damage my PC?

Prolonged high GPU usage can lead to overheating, which can potentially damage your graphics card and other components. Therefore, it’s crucial to monitor your GPU usage and ensure it’s within safe limits. If you notice high GPU usage frequently, you should investigate and resolve the underlying issue.


Dealing with the desktop window manager high GPU issue can be quite a hassle, but with the comprehensive solutions detailed above, you should be able to resolve it effectively. Remember, keeping your system updated and regularly monitoring your GPU usage can prevent such issues from arising in the first place.

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