Switch Intel and NVIDIA GPUs in Arch Linux

Alexandru-Sergiu Marton on May 12, 2019

There are a lot of laptops nowadays that use both an Intel integrated GPU and a discrete NVIDIA GPU. NVIDIA developed a technology that manages suc... [Read Full]
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I used to run Ubuntu on my laptop with dual Nvidia and Intel graphics and had the same problem. When Nvidia graphic was on, I would get a descent graphic performance but I would lose battery quickly and the laptop would get really hot. I'm now running Manjaro and every time I try to install Nvidia' proprietary driver, I can't boot to the OS. I finally gave up and decided to not install any Nvidia drivers. How is battery life and heating situation using optimus-manager when Nvidia graphic is on?

 

I'm sorry that I took a (very) long time to respond. I trashed my Arch installation (let's just say that being sleepy and partitioning don't mix well) so I can't provide any exact measuring but I can talk from memories. Battery life was certainly better when running on Intel graphics. When using the Nvidia GPU the laptop fans were constantly spinning, and it sat in 60+ degrees with nothing but the X server with i3 running. I would recommend using an Intel GPU if you want your laptop to be relatively cool and have decent battery life and to switch to Nvidia only when playing games or doing GPU intensive work (and when you have a place to plug your laptop in). Hybrid graphics on Linux is not a domain that shines but it seems like work is being done - I'm not sure about what's happening but seems related to a future when GPU offloading is native-ish on Linux: see those Merge Requests: WIP: GLX Extension to control GLXVND dispatching for PRIME GPU offloading, Separate per-client vendor mappings for GLXVND

Now, if you want easy switchable graphics without any kind of configuration, I say you try Pop!_OS. Download their Nvidia image and you'll see you get an option to switch graphics cards right in the power menu of Gnome. Cool, huh? But that's it, the only good thing is that it's easy to switch. Regarding battery life and heating, the situation is not very different, maybe a little bit better that a bare-bones, duct taped Arch Linux, but still far worse that on Windows in my opinion.

 

Thanks for the detailed response. I've been meaning to try Pop!_OS but haven't gotten around to it yet. Have you tried it natively on a laptop with dual graphics? If you have, maybe you could share your thoughts in more details on a new post.

I did actually use Pop!_OS on my main (and only) laptop (yes, it has dual graphics). I could talk a bit about it so I guess you have a pretty good idea regarding doing a new post. I think I'll write something tomorrow, maybe reinstall it so I can write a Pop!_OS review from Pop!_OS

Hey, Mohammadjavad Raadi 👋! I published a post where I talk about what was my experience with Pop!_OS. It's not really technical, it's more like what I personally felt while playing around with it, but it's something ¯_(ツ)_/¯.

 

Thank you. I have been looking for this since I got Thinkpad X1 Extreme UHD that has onboard Intel and discreet Nvidia GPU. My goal is to switch between Intel and Nvidia mode under Linux like it can under Windows 10.

Several users with same laptop reported that I have to put the laptop in discreet GPU mode in BIOS before installing Linux, otherwise the display freezes under Hybrid GPU mode (Intel mode). I have already installed Fedora 30 under discreet GPU mode and if I boot in Hybrid mode (in BIOS), the display does freeze under Linux. Your article gives me hope and I’ll give it a try.

 

I'm curious if you had any success. Before I killed my Arch install I managed to somehow break this and the method described in the post was not working for me anymore.
There seems to be some movement in the good direction for GPU offloading now in the Linux world (WIP: GLX Extension to control GLXVND dispatching for PRIME GPU offloading and Separate per-client vendor mappings for GLXVND ).
I hope that the future is bright, rendered on multiple monitors and runs on an Nvidia card at 60FPS while not sucking the battery out of my laptop faster that I can say "discrete graphics".

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