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LangLangC has given a very detailed answer as to how to disable the discrete Radeon graphics card in a 2011 MacBook Pro. It seems to be highly regarded, because it got a +97 score:

But there is also a Mac app called gfxCardStatus, which allows one to "Manually switch to Integrated Only or Discrete Only mode to force one GPU on or the other":

Does LangLangC's method have any advantages over simply using gfxCardStatus?

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  • I'd try gfxCardStatus first and see if it works as needed. Jan 3 at 2:39
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gfxCardStatus disables the automatic graphics switching that macOS performs when a high performance application wishes to use the discrete graphics. When macOS boots, it detects both GPUs and uses software to switch to the discrete graphics when required. Since both GPUs are detected on boot, both GPUs are powered up, though the discrete graphics quickly switch into a lower power mode until required.

Disabling the discrete graphics using the kext method completely disables the discrete GPU so it doesn't power on. This is especially useful if the GPU has an issue that causing the machine to kernel panic. The gfxCardStatus method wouldn't prevent this, but the kext changes would.

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