Internet Explorer Hardware Acceleration: Enable, Disable, Troubleshoot, FAQ

In general, Hardware Acceleration means using computer’s hardware for performing a certain task and function faster than would be possible using a software. This also allows for smooth rendering of graphics. Hardware Acceleration or GPU Rendering is a new feature in Internet Explorer that allows the browser to, while loading a webpage, move all graphics and text rendering from the Central Processing Unit to the Graphics Processing Unit. The idea is to speed up graphic performance and the rendering of webpages by moving it from the CPU to the GPU, thereby making Internet Explorer perform faster.

Internet Explorer Hardware Acceleration

In this post we will see what is hardware acceleration, what is software rendering and the problems which may arise when Internet Explorer tries to render a web page. Rendering is the process of using computer code to display the text and graphics that you see on your screen.

In some cases, Internet Explorer may show performance issues when rendering the webpage and you could end up facing one or more of these symptoms:

  • Slow scrolling of webpages
  • Diffused Fonts
  • Webpage appears blank
  • Colors on the webpage may be displayed incorrectly
  • Webpages do not display correctly randomly
  • You generally experience slow performance while using Internet Explorer 9.

At times, you also also receive an error message:

Display driver stopped responding and has recovered

This can happen on low-end computers or if your current video card or video driver does not support GPU hardware acceleration. See this post to troubleshoot Display driver stopped responding and has recovered error.

Disable Hardware Acceleration

In such a case you should try and disable Hardware Acceleration and see if it helps you.

To do so, open Internet Explorer > Internet Options > Advanced Tab > Accelerated graphics.

Use software rendering instead of GPU rendering

Here check the option Use software rendering instead of GPU rendering, and restart your Internet Explorer.

This will disable the Hardware Acceleration functionality in Internet Explorer.

Incidentally, Microsoft has also released Fix It‘s that allow you to enable or disable hardware acceleration. Download and run the desired Fix It to disable hardware acceleration in a click.

Measure browser performance

To see how your browser performs, you can take this Speed-reading test. Internet Explorer 9 on my machine scored 22 seconds. Let me know how much your browser scored.

Graphically rich demos like this one and the FishIE Test, are designed to use your computer’s GPU power instead of the CPU.

Does video card & driver support hardware acceleration

There are times when IE9 will automatically use Software instead of GPU rendering. When IE detects that your video card or video driver does not support GPU hardware acceleration, the Use software rendering instead of GPU rendering may appear checked and grayed out. This usually happens in the following scenarios:

  1. The user has manually selected this option in the Advanced Internet options
  2. The user is running Internet Explorer 9 in a remote desktop session
  3. The GPU and driver is: Slower at rendering common Web content than software rendering; Has severe stability or security issues; Has severe rendering quality issues when rendering Web content like HTML5, CSS3, SVG, etc, or popular ActiveX controls such as Adobe Flash.

If you are unable to use the Hardware Acceleration functionality of Internet Explorer 9 | 10 | 11 on your Windows 7 | 8, it might be a good idea to consider updating your Graphics/Video Drivers and/or consider upgrading to a new Graphics/Video Card.

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.