What is Desktop Window Manager High GPU and Memory Usage

People using Windows 11 started reporting problems with High GPU and Memory Usage. In particular, complaints have been related to Desktop Window Manager (dwm.exe) – a process working in the background by default. It is not new and has been a subject of talking in previous Windows versions as well. While the process itself is designed for maintaining proper display of visual effects (e.g. folder transparency, smoother animation, live taskbar thumbnails, etc.), its operation sometimes leads to an overwhelmingly high amount of GPU and Memory usage. The reason for that is uncertain – it is definitely not supposed to be that way. Desktop Windows Manager’s abnormal behavior can be stemmed due to a bug or malfunction of certain segments within a system. Recent discussions concluded that it is often a graphics card driver being outdated or bugged. Whatever it actually is, we advise you to try each solution below until the right one is found.

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There are special repair utilities for Windows, that can solve problems related to registry corruption, file system malfunction, Windows drivers instability. We recommend you to use Advanced System Repair Pro to fix the “Desktop Window Manager (dwm.exe) High GPU and Memory Usage” problem in Windows 11 or Windows 10.

1. Change Priority for dwm.exe

Let’s start with easier methods like this. Simply selecting the Desktop Window Manager process to run at the Normal priority level may fix the issue of extremely high GPU and Memory usage. Do the following:

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc buttons at the same time to open Task Manager.
  2. Then, go to Details and find the dwm.exe process.
  3. Right-click on it, select Set priority, and choose Normal.
  4. Confirm the action by clicking Change priority in the follow-up window.

After this, close the window and check whether something has changed. You can try your GPU and Memory consumption in Task Manager. If this does not resolve the issue, feel free to set Priority back to where it was by default.

2. Update or Roll back Display drivers

As mentioned in the introduction part of this guide, one of the reasons for faulty Desktop Window Manager behavior is corrupted graphics card drivers. You should therefore update them to see if it fixes the problem. In case you started fixing the error after installing new drivers yourself, you may also roll them back to previous versions. Both options are discussed in the instructions below:

To update drivers:

  1. Right-click on Start menu button (at the bottom of your screen desktop) and choose Device Manager.
  2. Expand Display Adapters. Then, right-click on your main driver adapter (usually by Intel) and choose Update driver. If you see two Display Adapters, it is worth updating them both, just in case.
  3. Next, select Search automatically for drivers and wait until new drivers are detected and installed eventually. If nothing is found, then more likely you have your drivers updated already. As an alternative, you may also download drivers from the official website of your graphics card manufacturer.

Updating each driver manually is time- and energy-consuming. If you are willing to save it and update drivers faster, we recommend using a special utility called Driver Booster from IObit. It has broad databases of drivers for all of the devices you need to maintain your PC. You can download it using the button below.

Download Driver Booster

To roll drivers back:

  1. Right-click on Start menu button (at the bottom of your screen desktop) and choose Device Manager.
  2. Expand Display Adapters. Then, right-click on your main driver adapter and go to Properties.
  3. From there, navigate to the Driver tab and click on Roll Back driver and wait until the process is finished. Also, if you are unable to click on the Roll Back button, this means your adapter had no former driver installed.

3. Use Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter

You can also use in-built Windows Troubleshooter features to diagnose and address certain issues. Try it to analyze potential issues and fix them if any are found.

  1. Press Ctrl + R buttons together to open the Run dialogue box.
  2. Copy-paste this line msdt.exe -id devicediagnostic and click OK.
  3. In the opened window, choose Next and wait some time until Windows figures things out.
  4. Once done, click Apply this fix and follow on-screen guidelines.

Finally, restart your PC and check whether the Desktop Window Manager process no longer eats the resources as previously.

4. Configure Visual Effects

We already know that Desktop Window Manager (dwm.exe) is a process responsible for executing visual effects. As a workaround solution, you can turn off advanced visual effects and stick to more default settings. In theory, this should pump down the resource usage and regulate dwm.exe’s operation.

  1. From your desktop, right-click on This PC and choose Properties.
  2. Choose Advanced system settings on the right side of the window and navigate to Advanced.
  3. Then, choose Settings… and make sure Adjust for best performance is selected to reduce performance requirements for your system. Alternatively, you can click on Custom and disable more options manually.

If you had different options selected before, switching to those we mentioned above should impact the issue to your benefit.

5. Scan your PC for malware

Last, but not least on our list of solutions is checking whether your system is under infection. Some users may not be aware of possible malware running its presence inside of a system. Moreover, there are infections masking themselves under legitimate windows processes like SysMain (Superfetch) or WaasMedic.exe to prevent users from suspecting them. dwm.exe may be used for the same purposes as well. Therefore, it is important to verify that the process is not fake and therefore malicious using antimalware software. You can use either in-built Windows Defender or install advanced anti-malware software that will combat threats that Windows fails to detect. We recommend you to use an antivirus developed by Malwarebytes – a trusted and talented group of experts constantly maintaining their software to combat both minor and global threats. It is now available for Windows 11 as well. You can download it now using the link below and try a 14-day trial of the ultimate antimalware experience for free.

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This is it. We hope High GPU and Memory Usage is solved and no longer slows down your system due to the Desktop Window Manager process. You should note that Windows 11 is new and not yet perfected in certain areas. Thus, it is also worth keeping an eye on future system updates that could fix various issues and bugs within a system. If you are still experiencing the problem, check if there are new updates pending for Windows 11 respectively.

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