Laptop performance issues and black screen

If you are getting a black screen with your Capture Sources or are otherwise having performance issues with OBS on your laptop, read the following as it applies to you:

When using OBS on a laptop, you may run into performance issues or issues using a specific capture type (i.e. Game or Window capture). This can be very frustrating. The reason this happens is because most modern laptops will come with two GPUs:

  • An Intel GPU for 2D applications/your desktop
  • A discrete graphics chip (either NVIDIA or AMD) for 3D apps and games.

OBS can only run on one of these GPUs, but your open applications and games could be running on either. For example, if OBS is running on the Intel GPU, you will not be able to use Game Capture for your games running on the discrete (NVIDIA or AMD) GPU. Additionally, if OBS is not running on the discrete GPU, you might run into performance issues. In rare cases, trying to capture a game running on a different GPU than OBS can cause the game to crash. This is not really an issue with OBS, but rather a design choice by laptop manufacturers in order to save power and there’s little that can be done on our side. However, we do have several troubleshooting suggestions to try and assist with any issues. If you tried everything in this guide and are still having issues, please make a post on the forums or stop by the support chat.

NVIDIA-based Laptops

  • Close OBS if it is currently open
  • Go to the NVIDIA Control Panel by right clicking on your desktop, and then clicking on “NVIDIA Control Panel”
  • Click on “Manage 3D Settings” if it is not already selected
  • Under the Program Settings tab, click the “Add” button under where it says “Select a program to customize:”
  • Navigate to the .exe path for OBS and add it to the list
    • Default paths are: C:\Program Files (x86)\obs-studio\bin\32bit\obs32.exe and C:\Program Files (x86)\obs-studio\bin\64bit\obs64.exe)
  • Make sure it is selected in the drop down list
  • Then, under where it says “Select the preferred graphics processor for this program” open the drop down and select “High-performance NVIDIA processor”
  • Re-open OBS and test again

Alternative directions – this sets the global default so all applications will run on the NVIDIA GPU (higher power consumption):

  • Close OBS if it is currently open
  • Go to the NVIDIA Control Panel by right clicking on your desktop, and then clicking on “NVIDIA Control Panel”
  • Click on Manage 3D Settings on the left, and then the Global tab on the right
  • Click the drop down box below that, select “High-performance NVIDIA processor” and click Apply, then OK
  • Re-open OBS and test again

AMD-based Laptops

If you are using an AMD-based laptop, check the guides here:

How to Use Display Capture

If Display Capture is not working, chances are you need to follow the Game/Window Capture directions but instead set OBS to run on the “Integrated graphics” option. Be aware that when you make this change, Window and Game Capture will no longer function unless you enable multi-adapter compatibility in their properties. See the below note on what this means.

Window and Game Capture and “multi-adapter compatibility” mode

If you cannot set the preferred GPU (AMD laptops typically), or wish to cross-capture an image from the other GPU after that (for example, the League of Legends lobby window), use Window or Game Capture with the “multi-adapter compatibility mode” option enabled to force a capture. “Multi-adapter compatibility mode” requires a bit more CPU usage, however. Compatibility mode is not recommended for capturing games, but it basically guarantees a capture.

Special note from Jim

I know it’s annoying. I’m not happy that this is the case either. Unfortunately, there’s nothing anyone can really do about it. This is just the way laptops are designed in order to save power and battery life.