Updated 17/11/2012Home » Video Glossary » Overlay


Hardware overlay, also known as video overlay, is a method of rendering an image to a display screen with a dedicated memory buffer inside computer video hardware, to display a fast-moving video image such as a computer game, a DVD, or the signal from a TV card. Hardware overlay is supported by most video cards (since about 1998) and media players.

The overlay operation is performed in hardware, making this process very fast, efficient and mantaining a practically null resources usage.

Starting Windows 7 however, hardware overlays have been disabled and replaced by software processing by Direct3D 9, causing a major increase of CPU usage among other problems. The only way to recover the hardware overlay for smooth and fast video playback with no resources usage is by using hacked video drivers, or using a player such as Media Player Classic, with the proper settings for activating hardware overlay.