[clug] Modern laptops, nVidia, Optimus and Linux

Michael Manning michael at michaelmanning.org
Wed May 4 15:08:02 MDT 2011

We just got a bunch of Latitude E6420 laptops at work from Dell with the
nVidia NVS4200 graphics card (don't quote me on the exact model number) and
found that they have recently added an option in the BIOS to disable the
Optimus feature. We were lucky enough to get the models with this

Once disabled you can run the standard nVidia drivers under Linux and get
the full 3D bling and performance out of the card. You obviously don't get
the benefit of the dynamic power saving but you at least get to use the card
which you paid for.

It all just works as advertised with the pre installed Windows 7... :-\

Not sure if a manufacturer/reseller will be able to reliably confirm that
this type of BIOS option is available or not before purchase unless you can
get an in store hands on yourself?

Hope this helps a bit.....

Michael Manning
On May 4, 2011 11:29 PM, "Sam Couter" <sam at couter.id.au> wrote:
> Has anyone bought a new laptop recently to run Linux on with half-decent
> 3D performance?
> I'm looking for a new laptop. I almost ordered one until I accidentally
> discovered the nVidia hardware on it has something called Optimus. It's
> a fancy way of dynamically switching between low-power integrated
> graphics and high-power nVidia discrete graphics based on load, to
> extend battery life. Under Linux it just means you're stuck with
> crap integrated graphics and can't use the expensive nVidia graphics.
> nVidia haven't announced any plans to support the technology under
> Linux.
> I haven't been able to find many alternatives in my price range (around
> $2k or less). It seems nVidia have decided to shit on Linux users when it
> comes to mobile computing. Oh look, they're losing market share at a
> large rate, so sad:
> Laptop Linux users, help me out. Point me in the direction of hardware I
> can use.
> --
> Sam Couter | mailto:sam at couter.id.au
> OpenPGP fingerprint: A46B 9BB5 3148 7BEA 1F05 5BD5 8530 03AE DE89 C75C

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