How to Enable Graphics Hardware Acceleration in Google Chrome

The main Web browser that I use frequently is Google Chrome. I have been using this browser most of the time for almost a year, and I have enjoyed using it. I find it quicker that the other browsers, the addition of the sandbox for security is great, and the fact that Google provides a new version each month is fantastic.

As with many of the major browsers that are used today, Google Chrome now supports graphics hardware acceleration. What this does is move most of the Web page graphics processing to the graphics card instead of the CPU. This reduces the CPU usage, while making the rendering of Web pages much quicker. I thought that the Chrome browser had enabled this feature by default, but to my surprise it wasn’t enabled. It is very easy to enable hardware acceleration and I outline the steps to enable the hardware acceleration, as well as some comparisons below.

Google Chrome Logo

Enabling Hardware Acceleration in Google Chrome

To enable the graphics hardware acceleration in Google’s Chrome Web browser, use the following steps:

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  1. Open the Chrome Web browser.
  2. In the address bar, enter “about:flags” (without the quotes), and then press Enter. A list of experimental features should be displayed.
  3. Google Chrome - About:Flags

    Google Chrome - About:Flags
    (Click to enlarge)

  4. Search for “GPU Accelerated Compositing”, and then click the “Enable” link.
  5. Next, search for “GPU Accelerated Canvas 2D” and click the “Enable” link.
  6. Google Chrome - Hardware Acceleration Options

    Google Chrome - Hardware Acceleration Options
    (Click to enlarge)

  7. Close and restart the Chrome Web browser.

When the browser is restarted, the hardware acceleration is now enabled. You won’t be able to tell that is enabled unless you view something that can make use of the graphics hardware on your computer. Below I show you the difference between disabling and enabling this feature.

Results of Hardware Acceleration

Once you enable hardware acceleration, you can search for web sites that provide test that you can run in your browser. Once such site is used by Microsoft to test Internet Explorer’s graphics hardware acceleration capabilities. This site is called Internet Explorer Test Drive and is what I used to test Chrome’s hardware acceleration capability.

For the purposes of this test, I ran it on my home desktop with the following specifications:

  • Processor: Intel i7 920 2.66 Ghz
  • RAM: 6 GB DDR3-1066
  • Graphics Card: PowerColor ATI Radeon 5850 x 2 (Crossfire)
  • Monitor: BenQ E2420HD (1920×1080)
  • Operating System: Windows 7 Professional

To test the acceleration feature, I used the FishIE tank demo under “Speed Demos” from the Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Test Drive site.

I chose to use 1000 fish to display in the demo to really test out the graphics capability of the browser. The tests were run at full screen (1920×1080), but with the browser tabs and Windows taskbar, the actual test area was 1920×979. The results of the setting disabled and then enabled are shown below.

Google Chrome - FishIE Tank - No Hardware Acceleration

Google Chrome - FishIE Tank - No Hardware Acceleration
(Click to enlarge)

As you can see in the above image, with 1000 fish being rendered, and no hardware acceleration enabled, the CPU is pumping out only 3 FPS (frames per second). While the test was running the fish barely moved on the screen, so everything looked choppy. I then enabled hardware acceleration, the result is shown below.

Google Chrome - FishIE Tank - Hardware Acceleration

Google Chrome - FishIE Tank - Hardware Acceleration
(Click to enlarge)

Now that the rendering is being offloaded to the more powerful graphics processors, the FPS has jumped to 46, which produced a smooth animation of the fish swimming. This is a huge improvement compared to when the hardware acceleration was disabled. The graphics card in your computer may have different results than mine, but testing is the only way to determine the performance that you will see on your computer.

If you use Google’s Chrome Web browser, and would like to have the best experience online, I suggest you try using hardware acceleration and then run some of the test I mentioned above to see if it improves the performance of your browser.


About Paul Salmon

Paul Salmon is the founder of Technically Easy. He is a an experienced PC user, and enjoys solving computer-related problems that he encounters on a regular basis.

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  1. Me
    Posted November 1, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Great job of showing Chrome playing “catch-up” with IE9 and Firefox. Chrome still have to work on their “GPU-accelerated” engine, IE9 is faster as tested today (with a nVidia GPU).

    • Posted November 1, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      I’ll have to run the tests again. It is important when comparing tests to use the exact setup so you can compare apples to apples.

  2. Posted April 1, 2011 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    this is great i dont know about this feature.

    • Posted April 1, 2011 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      Many people probably don’t know about this feature, unless you are into hardware acceleration. A good graphics card with a browser that allows hardware acceleration can definitely help with browsing the web as it moves the graphics processing from the CPU to the graphics card.

  3. Joe
    Posted March 29, 2011 at 1:58 am | Permalink

    wow…. what a huge difference between with and without hardware acceleration. I didn’t even know that Chrome can do such thing… and I’ve been using it for 2 years now..

    • Posted March 29, 2011 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      I have been using Chrome for some time as well, but never new how to enable hardware acceleration until recently. Both IE9 and Firefox 4.0 also have hard acceleration capabilities. From the same test I did with IE9, it had a higher FPS than Chrome, but the test is designed for IE after all.

  4. Posted March 25, 2011 at 4:54 am | Permalink

    This last update of Google Chrome also seems to have fixed the Shockwave Flash crash error as well, glad to see the Google is keeping a check on it’s browser, I use it as my main browser as it’s just so quick ;)

    • Posted March 25, 2011 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      The speed of Google Chrome is the main reason I use it as my main browser as well. The fact that Google’ updates it every month is a bonus as well, since we don’t have to wait for new features or fixes for long.

  5. Posted March 24, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    It sounds that Google Chrome become better and better from day to day. It would be no surprise if Google Chrome become the number one web browser in near future.

    • Posted March 25, 2011 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      I’m surprised that Google Chrome doesn’t have more market share, but I guess you have to look at this way. Many Web developers usually choose FireFox as their browser because of the add-ons. Those that don’t have a technical background would probably stick with IE because it is installed and convenient to use.

      • Rob
        Posted March 30, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

        It was number 1 for a day and is consistently #2 every other day.

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