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Alienware Laptop does not detect its discrete video card(s)

Summary: This article will help you to troubleshoot you Alienware Mobile systems, it contains the most common solutions / fixes.

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Article Content


Alienware Notebook Does Not Detect its Discrete Video Card (s)

The Alienware M17x R3, R4, M18x R1, R2, Alienware 14, 17 and 18 includes an integrated graphics adapter, whose main purpose is to provide video display in an energy-efficient, power saving way (i.e. when running the system on battery with no AC outlets available).


This mode can be manually set by:
  1. Pressing [Fn]+[F7] (for Alienware M17x R3, R4, M18x R1, R2) and [Fn]+[F5] (for Alienware 14, 17, 18) in the Windows desktop, and restarting the computer when requested.
  2. It is automatically set, whenever the computer is started in battery mode (not connected to a plugged AC Adapter) and systems equipped with nVidia Optimus Technology (Integrated gpu + 1 Nvidia Discrete gpu).
When the Alienware M17x R3, R4, R5 (Running an ATI Discrete Video card) & M18x R1, R2, R3 running SLI / Crossfire (Dual Discrete Video cards) or Single ATI GPU, mobile system is running on Integrated graphics card mode, Windows' Device Manager will only show the Intel HD Graphics as the Alienware Mobile current video adapter.
To use all the Alienware M17x R3, R4, R5 & M18x R1, R2, R3 video adapter(s), it is required that you to switch the computer to Discrete mode. To do so, follow the next procedure:
  1. Connect the Alienware M17x R3, R4, R5 or M18x R1, R2, R3 to its AC Adapter. Then, connect the AC adapter to a wall outlet.
  2. Press [Fn]+[F7] or [Fn]+[F5] to switch from integrated graphics mode to discrete graphics mode. Restart the computer when requested.


If your system still appears to have the Discrete video turned off or missing look at Windows Device Manager. Under the Display Adapters section you should see the discrete card (ATI/NVidia), if none are listed check in the BIOS Setup and make sure it is detected there. You can also change the primary display at the Advance Tab and choose PEG/SG.
Image depicts the Alienware BIOS Setup
Picture1: Discrete Graphics not Detected / Enabled

Image depicts the later Alienware BIOS Setup screen
Picture 2: Discrete graphics detected / Enabled and Integrated graphics disabled.

Note: If the [FN]+[F7] or [Fn]+[F5] does not work, please uninstall and reinstall the On Screen Display Driver (OSD Driver) using the latest version available at the Drivers & Downloads section.


If still you can't enable the Discrete graphics, you can try flashing/updating the system BIOS to the same or latest version. Look under the Drivers & Downloads section your system bios and run it. How to update the system BIOS .
Tip: If after running the bios update you system doesn’t boot please check if you system was built with RAID and set it up and the BIOS menu then it will boot up again.

Article Properties

Affected Product

Alienware 14, Alienware 17, Alienware 18, Alienware M17x R3, Alienware M17x R4, Alienware M18x, Alienware M18x R2

Last Published Date

02 Mar 2021



Article Type