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Old 09-21-11, 01:17 PM   #1
Sidicas
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Default nVidia Optimus Questions

I'm looking at buying a new laptop and run Linux on it. I've heard that if you purchase a laptop with nVidia Optimus then the nVidia graphics chip will not work at all under Linux, but the Intel graphics chip will..So I shouldn't buy an nVidia Optimus laptop if I want to run an nVidia graphics chip under Linux, correct?

I want to run a low-mid range GPU on my laptop under Linux, but I'm having difficulty finding a low-mid range nVidia GPU in a laptop that will run under Linux (avoiding nVidia Optimus) So people who are looking to run low-mid range GPUs under Linux shouldn't buy nVidia laptops, correct? Or is there a list of laptops that don't have Optimus somewhere?


Let me know, thanks..
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Old 09-21-11, 03:22 PM   #2
Gusar
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Default Re: nVidia Optimus Questions

There's Bumblebee, which is a sorta solution for Optimus. But yeah, if you can in any way, try to get a non-Optimus laptop. A lot of Asus models provide a hardware mux, which allows graphic card switching, so you can switch between Intel/Nvidia/Optimus.

And a little something I hear, but I don't have fully verified - the dual graphics situation on the other side (AMD) is also quite a pain. So if you can, get a laptop with Nvidia but with a hardware mux. If that's not possible, you can get by with Bumblebee.
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Old 09-21-11, 06:20 PM   #3
cass
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Default Re: nVidia Optimus Questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gusar View Post
There's Bumblebee, which is a sorta solution for Optimus. But yeah, if you can in any way, try to get a non-Optimus laptop. A lot of Asus models provide a hardware mux, which allows graphic card switching, so you can switch between Intel/Nvidia/Optimus.
Any idea how I can find out if I have this mux on my laptop or not? In my case it would be an Asus N55SF-S1232V.
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Old 09-22-11, 05:03 AM   #4
Gusar
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Default Re: nVidia Optimus Questions

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Originally Posted by cass View Post
Any idea how I can find out if I have this mux on my laptop or not? In my case it would be an Asus N55SF-S1232V.
Aside from looking in the BIOS for the switching options, not really. Another interesting thing, when I was at the media store recently, all laptops with Nvidia cards had Optimus stickers on them, except an Asus. But I don't know if that was a sign or not.

It would be nice if there was a list of all such laptops maintained. Going through all the posts at http://linux-hybrid-graphics.blogspot.com/ you might see some partial list somewhere, but it's probably outdated by now. Or maybe there's a list in Launchpad somewhere, I don't know.
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Old 09-22-11, 11:21 AM   #5
Sidicas
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Default Re: nVidia Optimus Questions

Is Bumblebee stable and does it work well?
I'm not too fond of Asus laptops, but if they have a hardware switch then I guess they're worth taking a closer look..
I really think the hardware switch is the way to go.. On the AMD side, they've got a hardware switch on all their laptops that I've ever seen.. You need to restart Xorg to switch GPUs, but it's no big deal..

I've been researching how Optimus works and it looks like the display of the laptop is hooked up to the output of the Intel graphics chip and the nVidia chip feeds data to the Intel graphics chip which it just passes to the display.. The nVidia chip itself doesn't have any displays plugged into it and I guess that's the problem... I suppose the Asus hardware switch is capable of hooking the video out up directly to the nvidia graphics chip which I think is the way to go due to current limitations of Xorg.

Bumblebee is neat, but it comes off to me as a hack-job to get around serious limitations in Xorg.. There are plans to fix Xorg so it's Optimus friendly, but that could take a year before it's stable and trickles down to the major distros.

It really bothers me that nVidia didn't require a hardware switch in every laptop sold.. I think they really dropped the ball there.. It's pretty clear that Optimus is designed and built around Windows and nothing else..
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Old 09-24-11, 01:55 AM   #6
pakginting
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Default Re: nVidia Optimus Questions

I just bought Asus A42S with Nvidia GF 540M. Very lucky I am, it has no optimus, hehe.
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Old 09-24-11, 11:26 AM   #7
LLStarks
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Default Re: nVidia Optimus Questions

1. If you have a 540M. You have Optimus. End of story.

2. Asus laptops do not have a BIOS switch but they do have a mux that can be accessed using byo/asus/vga-switcheroo.

3. AMD laptops have an OPTIONAL BIOS switch for Forced Mode. Otherwise they have no switch and are stuck in Dynamic Mode.
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Old 09-25-11, 03:29 AM   #8
cass
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Default Re: nVidia Optimus Questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by LLStarks View Post
2. Asus laptops do not have a BIOS switch but they do have a mux that can be accessed using byo/asus/vga-switcheroo.
Is this equivalent to the BIOS switch? If not, what are the differences? Further, what do I have to do exactly to switch this mux?

Cheers
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Old 09-25-11, 08:51 AM   #9
LLStarks
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Default Re: nVidia Optimus Questions

It's not equivalent to a BIOS switch, but you do get basic manual switching on top of Bumblebee.

If you use the nouveau driver along with asus-switcheroo, you can switch back and forth from a pure intel and pure nvidia desktop using the terminal. You can also use the nvidia binary driver, but the switch is one-way (until reboot) and you lose VT access. In the latter mode, you might have access to VDPAU which is arguably the only reason you might use said mode.

Either switcheroo, both cards will always be on. With Bumblebee, you should be able to turn the nvidia card on and off at will if you have the proper scripts.
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