Enable GPU-based encoding

Expression Studio 4.0

If you encode your video using the H.264 codec and if you have an NVidia CUDA version 1.1 or higher card, or an Intel HD Graphics card that supports QSV, you can take advantage of GPU-based encoding. Enabling GPU-based encoding can significantly improve your encoding performance. Microsoft Expression Encoder determines upon launch whether your system includes a compatible CUDA or Intel card and driver and, if so, you will have access to this option.

Once you initiate the GPU-based encoding process, Expression Encoder will utilize the GPU in processing your file. If you choose smooth streaming as an output option, Expression Encoder distributes the streams evenly across all available GPU's in order to achieve maximum encoding efficiency. Also, as your video encodes, Expression Encoder displays information in a progress window that informs you how many streams are currently being handled by the GPU.

For best results when using GPU-based encoding, make sure that you are aware of the following:

  • If you are using a CUDA card, you should only use GPU-based encoding for video larger than 200 scan lines. Expression Encoder will not employ GPU-based encoding for any video with fewer than 200 scanlines.

  • If you are using a CUDA card, make sure that you are using a version 258.96 or later NVidia driver.

  • Reference B-Frames and Adaptive B-Frames are not supported for GPU-based encoding (Expression Encoder will ignore the settings).

  • GPU-based encoding isn’t supported in virtual machine or remote desktop sessions.


You can only use GPU-based encoding in tandem with NVidia CUDA or Intel HD cards. You must have at least one of these card brands in order to utilize GPU encoding.

To enable GPU-based encoding

  1. In any project, on the Tools menu, click Options.

  2. In the Options dialog box, click Other.

  3. If your system contains a supported CUDA or Intel card and driver, then Enable GPU based H.264 encoding is already selected. If your system does not have a compatible card and driver, you will be unable to select this option. However, if the option is selected, you can click it to disable it. Adjust the GPU options according to the below descriptions:

    • Intel HD Graphics streams and CUDA GPU Streams   Adjust either or both of these options to increase or decrease the number of maximum steams that the GPU device will encode. Drag the value to adjust it. The default value of 2 for CUDA cards and 8 for Intel cards are generally optimal settings. If you increase this value, you may risk overloading system resources. Decrease the value to minimize the use of system resources.

    • Enable GPU(s)   Select the GPU(s) that you wish to use when encoding. You can also click an enabled GPU to disable it. You must enable at least one GPU.

  4. For additional information, click More Information on GPU Based Encoding to browse to a web site with detailed information on encoding using GPUs.

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