_OCB
Bronze

Does the Alienware 15 R4 Support Nvidia Optimus?

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I recently got an Alienware 15 R4. It has an intel i7 8750h CPU and an Nvidia GTX 1070 GPU. The screen is the non-gsync 60hz 1080p panel.

I remember reading that systems WITH G-Sync can't use Nvidia Optimus because the discrete Nvidia GPU is constantly working. However, my system does not have G-Sync, so it should support optimus. I know this was the case in my previous Alienware laptop.

My question is, does my new 15 R4 support Nvidia Optimus technology? In other words, can it switch to the Intel integrated graphics to save power?

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14 Replies
denzbs
Silver

Re: Does the Alienware 15 R4 Support Nvidia Optimus?

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fn+f7 and say yes to switch to power saving mode ==if it say switch to performance mode it is enabled and do nothing
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Moderator
Moderator

Re: Does the Alienware 15 R4 Support Nvidia Optimus?

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Hi @_OCB,

The design of the new 15 R4 makes it so that the LCD/Screen is controlled directly by the nVidia card. The Intel card controls only the USB C port. This means that if you use this port for video, it will throughput the signal from the Intel UHD card. Otherwise, the card cannot de enabled manually or via Optimus unless there's an option to right-click an app and selecting which Graphics Processor to use.

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Alienware-Eimy
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_OCB
Bronze

Re: Does the Alienware 15 R4 Support Nvidia Optimus?

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No option for fn+f7. It doesn't do anything.

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fleaplus
Copper

Re: Does the Alienware 15 R4 Support Nvidia Optimus?

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@Alienware-Eimy does the Alienware 17 R5 also not support Optimus mode on non-GSync configurations? I see that there is some marketing information on it's product page stating it can get 10 hours of battery life with a 99Wh battery and FHD screen. This document also still states that Optimus should be available on the 15 R4 / 17 R5 so long as you do not have a GSync configuration.

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Moderator
Moderator

Re: Does the Alienware 15 R4 Support Nvidia Optimus?

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Hi @fleaplus@_OCB@denzbs,

Got some information from engineering for the AW15R4 and AW17R5 Non- Gsync systems:

There are 2 video cards in the computer, Nvidia and Intel. If you press Fn + F7 it should pull two different graphic modes, Performance (uses only Nvidia) and Power Saving (Intel and Nvidia enabled, Intel by default, Nvidia for 3D and demanding apps). The Power Saving basically uses Optimus.
*For the change to take effect you have to restart the system after FN + F7*

My previous statement is still true:

The design of the new 15 R4 makes it so that the LCD/Screen is controlled directly by the nVidia card. The Intel card controls only the USB C port. This means that if you use this port for video, it will throughput the signal from the Intel UHD card. Otherwise, the card cannot be enabled manually or via Optimus unless there's an option to right-click an app and selecting which Graphics Processor to use.

Because with Power Saving you do not select which apps go with Intel UHD because all by default go there except 3D or demanding apps, but from the NVidia control panel you can select which ones will open with Nvidia. USB-C is controlled by Intel UHD. The Nvidia will be responsible for giving video to the LCD panel and to whatever is connected by HDMi or mini DP, but it does not mean that the applications are not rendered by the Intel in Power Saving.

For the FN+F7 to work, you need to make sure of the following:

- The On Screen Display (OSD) driver needs to be installed.

- Enter the BIOS and check that the Integrated Graphics and Discrete Graphics are both detected.

 

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Dell | Alienware Technical Support
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justo316
Bronze

Re: Does the Alienware 15 R4 Support Nvidia Optimus?

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@Alienware-Eimy

Hi I just signed up to say that this doesn't work.

I have reinstalled Alienware OSD. Both GPU's are detected in BIOS.

 

Fn+F7 does nothing.

 

For the record, nothing Alienware related ever comes up onscreen when I use  any of the media keys. The default windows animations do show the functions working though (eg. volume bar pops up if I press Fn+F5). I even tried pressing Fn+F7 once, then rebooting but nothing changes.

 

Is there any other way to access this alleged "Power Saving" mode?

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_OCB
Bronze

Re: Does the Alienware 15 R4 Support Nvidia Optimus?

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Same here. I even monitored the Intel graphics to see if it was being utilized. It stayed at 0% the whole time. There must be some way to fix this.

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justo316
Bronze

Re: Does the Alienware 15 R4 Support Nvidia Optimus?

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@_OCB

You can get some usage into the intel GPU if you try really hard lol

If you are on battery and switch to the leftmost power saving option when you click on the battery icon, then monitor your system (after having closed any apps you were using), *some* will use the intel GPU. When I say some, I mean barely any....but as a proof of concept, it shows the intel GPU is functional. 

Then, in windows Settings > System > Display > Graphics Settings, you can force apps to use either the Intel or Nvidia GPU (Power Saving or High Performance). This part definitely "works".

When I say "works", I mean, technically you can get throughput into the Intel GPU, but the problem is, this is not Optimus. This is the built in Windows 10 graphics switching that was introduced in the 1803 update. While you can force apps to use the Intel GPU, your Nvidia card is still ALWAYS ON and drinking power. Plus, it's just not feasible to go add every single app and system service into the list of apps being forced to use the Intel GPU.

Be wary playing with this setting, once you add an app, you can click on its individual Options to change it from "Power Saving" to "High Performance". But, the actual GPU's they refer to changes depending on what level of Battery Saving mode you're on and whether you're plugged in or not. eg. if you're on the best performance mode with power unplugged, I believe both Power Saving and High Performance GPUs will be listed as your Nvidia. So in this scenario, if you had your app set to Power Saving mode, you would still be using the Nvidia GPU.

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_OCB
Bronze

Re: Does the Alienware 15 R4 Support Nvidia Optimus?

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@justo316 wrote:

@_OCB

.

When I say "works", I mean, technically you can get throughput into the Intel GPU, but the problem is, this is not Optimus. This is the built in Windows 10 graphics switching that was introduced in the 1803 update. While you can force apps to use the Intel GPU, your Nvidia card is still ALWAYS ON and drinking power. Plus, it's just not feasible to go add every single app and system service into the list of apps being forced to use the Intel GPU.


I'm still on Windows 10 1709 so I'll have to upgrade to try this. I'll report back when I get a chance.

This graphics switching feature doesn't seem to have much practical application though, unless I'm missing something. Is it possible that you still save some power compared to the Nvidia GPU? I've noticed that card uses a lot of power just for something like video decoding. Even at 20% use, its using the battery pretty quickly and the card heats up to around 50C. The Intel GPU would probably be more efficient in those cases. So maybe you could save some power by keeping the NVidia card close to 0%.

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