How (and Why) Enable Hardware Acceleration on Spotify
Have you ever wondered why Spotify’s desktop app has a “Hardware Acceleration” feature buried in its settings menu? Here’s what this mysterious option means and whether or not you should enable it.
What does hardware acceleration do in Spotify?
Hardware acceleration is a setting that allows a program to use computer hardware, such as the GPU, to perform functions and processes more efficiently. It essentially offloads the work that would otherwise be left to your processor and the software itself onto the unallocated processing power of your other parts.
When running the desktop version of Spotify for Windows or macOS, hardware acceleration is a setting that moves the app away from “general processing”, where it performs tasks only using the software and the processor itself. , to maximize the specialized units on your computer. . Spotify assigns specific tasks based on who it thinks would perform the task most efficiently.
In a previous article, we explained how hardware acceleration works for Chrome. The desktop version of Spotify is basically a custom web application that uses a Chromium Embedded Framework. This means that it uses the same functionality as a Google Chrome browser to load web content. Therefore, many of the potential advantages and disadvantages of Chrome’s hardware acceleration also apply to CEF-based desktop apps like Spotify and Discord.
Does hardware acceleration change the quality of my sound?
The short answer is no. Enabling hardware acceleration does not affect audio quality or playback itself. Unloading processes include things like switching screens, loading album art, playing next tracks, and displaying lyrics. The only options that affect actual playback are stream quality and download quality, which you can change depending on your desired bitrate and your internet speed.
However, it does a few other things that might improve your experience. First, since you are offloading the processing power allocated to Spotify, it allows you to run Spotify alongside other tasks. Music streaming apps like Spotify normally work alongside other programs. If you’re doing something particularly CPU-intensive like editing photos or running a spreadsheet, your computer will appreciate the extra juice.
This is especially true if you are using a modern device with a dedicated graphics card. GPUs are usually underutilized when you’re not in the middle of gaming or video editing, so it’s worth leaving it open as long as you don’t notice any bugs.
Enabling Hardware Acceleration on Spotify
Enabling and disabling hardware acceleration is a fairly straightforward process. On the Spotify desktop app, click the three-dot icon at the top left of the screen and go to Edit > Preferences.
Next, scroll down and click on the expand menu button that says “Show advanced settings”.
Scroll down again and “Enable hardware acceleration” will be the second to last option. Click the toggle button to change the setting. When green, it is on and when gray, it is off.
If you’re using macOS, the process is much faster. Click “Spotify” in the menu bar, then click “Hardware acceleration” to toggle the setting on and off.
Should I keep it enabled?
It depends. If you just keep it open in addition to your daily tasks and you have a decent dedicated GPU, you should keep it open. It’s a good way to manage your computer’s workload, especially if you’re multitasking.
However, there are some things to be wary of. If you’re using Spotify on older hardware with underpowered GPUs, you might want to leave it disabled. There have been numerous reports of hardware acceleration hampering playback and stability on older computers, likely because Spotify has trouble allocating certain tasks to the GPU. Disabling hardware acceleration may make it slightly slower but probably more stable.
The other reason to disable hardware acceleration is if you are using an application that relies heavily on GPU usage. The most common example is modern 3D video games, which render expansive environments and complex lighting effects in real time. If you’re using Spotify with hardware acceleration enabled, your gameplay may drop dramatically. You also need to disable the option when you encode videos or export file on Adobe Premiere.
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