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nVidia Optimus Technology


Summary: nVidia Optimus Technology

Article Summary: This article contains information about nVidia Optimus.





Troubleshooting





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Overview: nVidia Optimus


nVidia Optimus technology is designed to maximize performance and user experience on the computer, while minimizing the impact on battery life. It combines the graphic processing capability of the integrated Intel® graphic processing unit (GPU) with the discrete nVidia GPU while running graphic-intensive applications such as 3-D games. The nVidia GPU is turned on only for preset applications and thus extends the battery life. See (Figure 1).


Figure 1: Optimus Performance v. Battery Life

Note:
To learn more on "What is Optimus and How it works?", check our new video by clicking here.



The Optimus solution is enabled through an application profile. When an application is launched, the video drivers check to see if the application has an application profile associated with it.
  • If an application profile exists, the nVidia GPU is turned on and the application runs in performance mode. The nVidia GPU is turned off automatically when the application is closed.
  • If an application profile does not exist, the integrated Intel GPU is used.


The default list of application profiles is updated frequently by nVidia and is automatically downloaded to the computer when it is connected to the internet. No user interaction is required.
How Optimus Differs from Switchable Graphics:
Optimus Switchable Graphics
Automatically Enable GPU for Intensive Applications Switchable graphics forces the user to manually change a setting.
Automatically Disable GPU for Non-Intensive Applications Switchable graphics forces the user to manually change a setting.
Near-Instant Transition Time Switchable graphics relies upon a multiplexer resulting in a delay when switching modes.
No Screen Flicker During Transition Screen flicker occurs with switchable graphics when the new driver is being loaded.
No Blocking Apps for Switching Modes 3D games and applications need to be closed before switchable graphics will allow you to change modes.
Doesn’t Require Additional Notebook Components With switchable graphics, you need a multiplexer and additional display hardware adding cost and complexity.
Optimus relies on standard industry APIs and protocols like PCI-E and DirectX. Switchable graphics specialized drivers and extra components.

Viewing Existing Optimus Settings for a Specific Program:
At any point in time, users can confirm which setting Optimus will use with a particular title or application by referencing the Optimus Application Profile list within the NVIDIA Control Panel. Open the Nvidia Control panel, choose Manage 3D settings under the 3D settings section.
Note:
After installing any Steam game, create a shortcut from the Steam games list. Once the shortcut appears on the desktop, follow the instructions above to view the existing Optimus settings. If it does not have a profile, follow the section below to create a new profile for the game.



Creating Custom Application Profile for New Applications - nVidia Optimus


Users can also create application profiles for any application on the computer. This may be required for newly released games or applications that do not have a default application profile. To create a new profile for an application:
  1. Open the NVIDIA Control Panel.

  2. Select Manage 3D Settings.

  3. Select Program Settings tab.

  4. Click Add.

  5. Browse to and select the application executable file that needs the new profile.

  6. Choose the preferred graphics processor to use from the drop menu (Figure 2).




Figure 2: Optimus 3D Settings Control Panel Window (click image to open enlarged in a new window)



Changing the Default Graphics Settings for an Application - nVidia Optimus


To change the default graphics setting for an application:
  1. Open the NVIDIA Control Panel by right-clicking the desktop.

  2. Left-click the NVIDIA Control Panel.

  3. Left-click Manage 3D Settings under the 3D Settings section of the left side navigation pane.

  4. Left-click Program Settings.



If the application is shown in the list:
  1. Left-click the the application for which the default setting is to be changed.

  2. Choose the preferred graphics processor to be used from the drop-down menu.


If the application is not shown in the list:
  1. Left-click Add.

  2. Browse to and select the application executable file for which the default graphics setting is to be changed.

  3. Choose the preferred graphics processor to be used from the drop-down menu.


Default Graphics Processor Override - nVidia Optimus


In the NVIDIA Control Panel, the user can override the Optimus application profile setting and choose a particular graphics processor. To access the NVIDIA Control Panel, right click on the Desktop, then left-click NVIDIA Control Panel. Next, click View from the NVIDIA Control Panel menu bar, then select the highlighted option. See (Figure 3) below.

Figure 3: nVidia Control Panel View Tab (click image to enlarge in a new window)

This setting allows the user to right-click any executable file or shortcut and select the graphics processor to be used when running that application. For example, in (Figure 4) below, simply use the appropriate menu selection to choose the graphics processor you want to use for the application.

Figure 4: nVidia Optimus Right Click Shortcut (click image to enlarge in a new window)
Note:
This is a one time selection and the settings will revert to the the default application profile, the next time the application is launched.



Games installed via Valve Steam - nVidia Optimus


STEAM™ is a digital distribution, digital rights management, multiplayer and communications platform developed by Valve® Corporation. It is used to distribute a wide range of games and related media entirely over the internet, stretching from one-man independent efforts to some of the world's most popular games.
Dell will offer STEAM™ with free game 'Portal' on Alienware branded products. STEAM will be set as default option that the customers will have the option to 'opt-out' on the Dell on-line configurator. STEAM Client will be pre-installed on the system as a desktop icon and the portal game will be preinstalled on system that will be automatically activated at first launch through unique keys that will be encrypted in customer's hard drive. New user will need to create a STEAM account or update STEAM account information if existing account is available. The game 'Portal' can be found under 'My Games' tab.
For more information about Valve® STEAM™, click Here.

Default STEAM Executable File Location: for STEAM Applications:
The executable file is located in the following directory:
C:\Program Files (X86)\Steam\Steamapps
Games wi9ll be located in either Common or the account name folder.
Special Instructions for Games Installed via Steam:
Once you have installed your Steam game, create a shortcut from your Steam games list. Once the shortcut appears on the desktop, follow the instructions below.
Viewing Existing Optimus Settings for a Specific Program:
At any point in time, users can confirm which setting Optimus will use with a particular title or application by referencing the Optimus Application Profile list within the NVIDIA Control Panel. Open the Nvidia Control panel, choose Manage 3D settings under the 3D settings section.

Creating Optimus Settings for a New Program:

  1. Open the NVIDIA Control Panel.

  2. Select Manage 3D Settings.

  3. Select Program Settings tab.

  4. Click Add.

  5. Browse to and select the application executable file that needs the new profile.

  6. Choose the preferred graphics processor to use from the drop menu.


Answers to Cmmon Questions - nVidia Optimus


For answers to some common questions regarding nVidia Optimus, click Here.

Some questions answered on this site are listed below: (Note that the content of the site will change as new answers will be added as needed).
  • What are Optimus ’IGP rendered’ and ’GPU rendered’ applications?
  • How can I tell if an application is being rendered on the IGP or GPU with Optimus?
  • What are Optimus ‘IGP displays’ and ‘GPU displays’?
  • How can I tell if the GPU is currently on or off with Optimus?
  • Does Optimus have ‘shared’ displays like hybrid?
  • Does enabling a GPU display affect Optimus acceleration of applications on IGP displays?
  • Can both IGP and GPU be active at the same time with Optimus? Can both be rendering 3D applications at the same time?
  • Is Optimus supported with SLI?
  • Optimus Notebook Technology Whitepaper.
  • Does NVIDIA's Optimus technology work with Intel's Wireless Display (WiDi) technology?
  • Which Optimus GPU display connector options are supported? How are they detected?
  • How are display switches/modesets handled by NVIDIA's Optimus?
  • How is audio supported on an NVIDIA Optimus platform?
  • Can Optimus support 3D Vision on IGP displays?
  • Will Optimus support Flash games or pure 2D redraw, such as Facebook games?
  • How do I customize Optimus profiles and settings?
  • How is HDCP supported on the NVIDIA Optimus platform?
  • On an Optimus system, creating video profiles may cause unstable behavior.
  • Certain games are causing problems on notebooks with Optimus Technology.
  • Why can't I switch the display modes on my Optimus system using the NVIDIA Control Panel?
  • On notebooks using NVIDIA Optmius technology, the Optimus indicator LED flashes on and off when the system is shut down or rebooted.
  • Is there a switch or power source based way to run all applications on IGP (or all on GPU) on NVIDIA Optimus platform?
  • How is video playback supported on NVIDIA's Optimus platform?
  • Will NVIDIA create a combo INTEL plus NVIDIA OPTIMUS driver?
  • Is there any performance limitation to Nvidia’s Optimus graphics technology because it outputs to INTEL’s IGP?
  • Is Optimus technology available for Add in Card designs?
  • Do the Apple Macbook Pro models launched early 2010 support NVIDIA's Optimus technology?
  • Which GPU renders DVD content on Optimus systems?
  • Availability of NVIDIA add-in graphics cards for laptops.
  • What display combinations are possible between IGP and Optimus GPU displays?
  • NVIDIA control panel has no effect when discrete GPU is not used for playing back video.




 


Quick Tips content is self-published by the Dell Support Professionals who resolve issues daily. In order to achieve a speedy publication, Quick Tips may represent only partial solutions or work-arounds that are still in development or pending further proof of successfully resolving an issue. As such Quick Tips have not been reviewed, validated or approved by Dell and should be used with appropriate caution. Dell shall not be liable for any loss, including but not limited to loss of data, loss of profit or loss of revenue, which customers may incur by following any procedure or advice set out in the Quick Tips.

Article ID: SLN133709

Last Date Modified: 06/04/2013 12:00 AM


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