Desktop Window Manager extreme GPU usage (> 20% with RTX 3070)

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So I noticed today that Desktop Window Manager is having a very high GPU usage when I move windows around or just do simple rudimentary tasks with my PC. When I do nothing at all, GPU usage idles between 1-2% (which is already way too high for a RTX 3070) and when I move windows around on my desktop (e.g. windows explorer) it spikes up to 20%.

 

Does anyone know how I can fix this?

 

System specs

  • Windows 10
  • GPU: RTX 3070
  • CPU: Intel i7 11700K
  • RAM: 32GB @ 3200mhz
  • Storage: Samsung 980 PRO 1TB
  • Displays: 1) 2560 x 1440 144hz G-sync enabled, 2) 1920 x 1080 60hz

Things I have already tried and that don’t work:

  • Reinstall windows. This in combination with the fact that the problem only shows once I start moving windows makes it highly unlikely that it’s malware.
  • Update to the latest drivers
  • Lower process priority in task manager
  • Disable animations & transparency effects to see if anything changes (they don’t)
  • Google for hours to find a useful solution
  • I compared this to the PC of my wife. She has a dual monitor setup as well, both screens 1080p. Graphics card a very old GTX 650 TI. Doing similar task, GPU usage is not even 2%. So it’s definitely an issue with my system.
  • Try and switch Desktop Window Manager to power saver mode in Windows’ Graphics Settings which should trigger it to use my processor’s integrated graphics. However, it does not switch and continues to use the RTX 3070.
  • Install older driver version (I went back all the way to a 2020 december driver)
  • Turn on Hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling

Answer

Okay so I finally figured out what the “problem” is;

In NVidia Control Panel one can set a Power management mode. By default the value is normal which causes the GPU’s clock speeds to drop by 90% when it is not under load (and thus saving a significant amount of power).

When dragging windows around, it is not a heavy load for the GPU and thus it doesn’t increase to a more performant mode. However, when your system is measuring the GPU usage, it does so from this low-power state. The usage will appear as a very high percentage, even though the actual usage is insignificant.

Setting the power management mode to prefer maximum performance will cause the GPU to always run at it’s boost speed regardless of the load. This will also show in task manager: the measured usage drops to below 3% on a high refresh rate high resolution monitor.

Another setting that may affect this is in Windows 10’s graphics settings. Here you can select individual programs and indicate whether they should use performance or power saving mode.