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How to Force HandBrake to Use GPU in Windows (Nvidia, AMD, Intel)

With hidden settings, you can force HandBrake to use GPU whether it is Nvidia NvEnc, AMD, or Intel for faster transcoding. Here’s how.

HandBrake is one of the most popular software when it comes to video conversion or transcoding. You can convert almost any format with just a few clicks. The best thing is, HandBrake is not only free but is also very easy to use all the while being customizable with a ton of options. By default, Handbrake uses CPU to transcode video files. Depending on your CPU and the video file(s), it can take a lot of time to complete transcoding. In addition to that, while transcoding, HandBrake uses all your CUP resources making the system unusable at times. In fact, I ever wrote a simple guide or how you can reduce HandBrake CPU usage.

The good thing is, if you have a dGPU (Dedicated Graphics Processing Unit), you can force HandBrake to use that GPU instead of relying solely on the CPU resources. One of the biggest benefits of using GPU transcoding is that it takes less time compared to CPU transcoding, at least in my case.

So, without further ado, let me show you the steps to enable GPU support in HandBrake.

Things to Know Before Forcing GPU Transcode

Before you can go ahead and enable GPU support in Handbrake, there are few things you need to know.

  • Your graphics card should have built-in hardware encoders. Specifically, VCE for AMD graphics cards, NVENC for Nvidia, and QSV for Intel. Generally, you can find if your graphics card supports these hardware encoders by looking at the spec sheet available on the manufacturer’s website.
  • If your GPU has no hardware encoders, you cannot use HandBrake with the GPU.
  • When you force HandBrake to use GPU encoding, it comes at the expense of lower quality and higher file size compared to the CPU encoding. If you are interested, take a look at this support document that goes into great detail with various tests.

Steps to Force HandBrake to Use GPU

1. First, open HandBrake by searching for it in the start menu.

2. After opening HandBrake, click on the “Preferences” link appearing on the bottom left corner. You can also open the same from “Tools → Preferences”.


3. In the Preferences window, go to the “Video” tab. On the right-panel, select the Encoder of your choice. HandBrake automatically detects your GPU hardware encoders. In my case, since I have Nvidia GPU with NvEnc, I selected the “Allow use of the Nvidia NVENC Encoders” option.

If the encoder options are greyed out, it means that your GPU doesn’t support hardware encoders.


4. The settings are automatically saved. You can close the Preferences window.

5. After enabling GPU support, you need to select the video codec. To do that, add a video file to HandBrake and go to the “Video” tab. Here, select the hardware decoder from the “Video Codec” drop-down menu.

Since I’m using Nvidia, I’m selecting the “H.264 Nvidia NVENC” codec. If you are using Intel or AMD, you will see QSV or VCE respectively.


6. That is it. You can now start transcoding the file. If you want to, you can even create a custom preset with all your settings for quick access.


Do remember that though GPU transcoding will reduce the time it takes to transcode, it comes at the cost of quality and increased file size. So, enable the GPU support if you are ok with the trade-offs.

I hope that helps. If you are stuck or need some help, comment below and I will try to help as much as possible. If you like this article, do check out how to batch convert files in HandBrake.

6 thoughts on “How to Force HandBrake to Use GPU in Windows (Nvidia, AMD, Intel)”

  1. Avatar for chmedly

    Is there a way to tell Handbrake which specific video card to use? I have 2 AMD cards and it seems like it just automatically uses the one that has the monitor connected rather than the “spare” one.

  2. Avatar for Najeeb

    Good and informative article.I’m using Nvidia,(Geforce GT 730), since H.265 (NVEnc) codec is available i wish to select this codec instead of “H.264 Nvidia NVENC” codec. But i cant encoding video successfully. Getting errors detected and cancelled automatically.

    Please advice.


  3. Avatar for rdsii64

    If the result is lesser quality files that are larger in size, why would I want to force handbrake to use my gpu?

    1. Avatar for Borb

      The GPU transcoding is faster. Some people are okay with a bigger file size and less quality at the expense of a faster transcode. That is the tradeoff, however.

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