gfxCardStatus, a tool initially designed to display which graphics subsystem is active in MacBook Pro (Mid-2010) models via ”i” and “n” icons that signify Intel HD Graphics, and NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M graphics, respectively, has now been updated to allow on-the-fly switching between the cards. It also is a menubar app for OS X helping MacBook Pro users to see which apps are impacting their battery life by using the more power-hungry graphics.
- Growl or Notification Center notifications when the GPU changes
- The Dependencies list: open the gfxCardStatus menu when your discrete GPU is active to see what is turning it on
- Manually switch to Integrated Only or Discrete Only mode to force one GPU on or the other
For Graphics Switching
MacBook Pro (Mid-2010), Core i5 or Corei7, 15″ and 17″ models automatically switch between integrated Intel (lower power) and NVIDIA (higher power) graphics. Unfortunately, although there is a built-in option to keep the higher-power NVIDIA card on at all times, there is no option to keep it off at all times. This has resulted in significant reduction of battery life for some users, whose MacBook Pros engage the higher-power-usage NVIDIA graphics during seemingly non-GPU-intensive applications.
graphics switching modes: three modes of operation
- Dynamic Switching: An alias for the built-in automatic graphics switching feature in OS X
- Integrated Only: Forces the more battery-friendly graphics on and disallows automatic switching
- Discrete Only: Forces the more power-hungry graphics on and disallows automatic switching
gfxCardStatus solves this problem by allowing the user to switch between graphics subsystems at will. However, the developer notes that the switching functionality may “cause a few minor temporary issues.”
- OS X Lion (10.7) or newer
- 2008-2012, 15-17″ dual-GPU MacBook Pro
App Menu bar icon descriptions
- i — you’re using the integrated GPU
- d — you’re using the higher-powered discreteGPU
You cannot use external displays (including projectors) while using gfxCardStatus in Integrated Only mode. To use a display, stay on Dynamic Switching.
Obsessed with tech since the early arrival of A/UX on Apple, Sudz (SK) is responsible for the editorial direction of AppleToolBox. He is based out of Los Angeles, CA.
Sudz specializes in covering all things macOS, having reviewed dozens of OS X and macOS developments over the years.
In a former life, Sudz worked helping Fortune 100 companies with their technology and business transformation aspirations.