FORUMS

Top Earners This Week
1
Beretttaas Points: 186 Lv 23
2
PeetarPan8988 Points: 185 Lv 23
3
yolk Points: 184 Lv 23
4
beebuuszz3 Points: 184 Lv 23
5
IamhelpfulI Points: 183 Lv 29
6
xIHOPEIx Points: 183 Lv 24
7
keylesswhisper Points: 183 Lv 27
8
g00mba Points: 183 Lv 23
9
Hoomboi Points: 181 Lv 23
10
Beepboppope Points: 140 Lv 5

Why Does my Alienware 17 R4 have two Graphics Cards

  • 8

I just purchased a new Alienware 17 R4 with a GeForce 1070 graphics card, but it also says that I have an Intel graphics card too. How does this work? Can I use only the GeForce card only? I'm lost!

Replies • 14

That's normal, the Intel graphics is used during normal computer usage. The Geforce card activates for games or software needing the dedicated graphics card, Nvidia calls this Optimus and it's used to keep the power usage during normal usage down to give better battery life.


Howdy DrDove,

Your system has two GPUs for battery life considerations.  In the default configuration, it should choose which card to use based on needs of the application.  For things like your web browser or an office document, you do not need the power of your GTX 1070, and the integrated Intel HD renders it just fine.  This allows your system balance performance with battery life.  The driver should automatically switch, but it is important to keep up with your driver updates. The switching is based on profiles installed with your nVidia driver.  You can force your system to globally use one or the other in the nVidia control panel.  Right-click on your desktop and open the nVidia Control Panel.  Go to the advanced options, and you can set it there.  However, there there is no real advantage to doing this, as it will only make your laptop work harder then it needs to (meaning lower battery life and higher temperatures).  Just make sure to install the correct drivers, and you shouldn't have any problems :-)

For the sake of transparency, older Alienware laptops had a feature called "Binary Graphics" which was controlled by a hardware based "switch" that toggled between the discrete and integrated GPUs.  This was before a hybrid method colloquially called Switchable Graphics.  A short lived effort by Alienware that allowed you to use both GPUs, like your system does now.  That was quickly replaced by the two vendor specific efforts called "Enduro" by AMD and "Optimus" by nVidia.  Generically you still here people use the term "switchable graphics" when referring to this technology.  Good luck!

Rich S.


Rich S.

Thanks for the reply and the info! When I right click and open the Nvidia control panel, I DO NOT a "Advanced Options". I would like to be able to run only my GeForce 1070, because most of the time this laptop will be plugged in, and not using battery. Any ideas on how to force the use of the GeForce card?


The newer laptops have a command, FN + F7, to switch which GPU, integrated or discrete, becomes the primary (those with G-Sync displays don't have this). A reboot will be required (I think it's even prompted). 


I've got a GSYNC panel in mine and it gives an error message when switching. Seems like it never gets used... as far as I can tell.

 

That said, the battery life projection just went from 1hr to 3hrs so maybe it is switching (but still somehow running at 120Hz)


If you have a Gsync panel, your laptop does not have the Intel integrated GPU, kind of rendering the FN + F7 useless, but I guess it's kept there for key uniformity (and also less hassle of designing different set of keyboards)!

But yeah, if you're gaming or doing anything that requires higher end graphics power, your computer switches to the 1070, and when you're just sitting idle or browsing web/video, it defaults to the integrated intel card. You can go into your power settings and make it so that while you're on battery, your computer will always default to the Intel card no matter what, and while you're plugged into power your machine will always use the 1070, just to keep it more streamlined, if that's something you'd like to do.


My system has the gsync AND the Intel (it shows up under device manager). My question would be why? Is it just because its a feature of the CPU? The system clearly cannot and does not use it. Which is also odd considering the first 17 r4  I purchased was able to use it (Standard Full HD 60hz panel). It would be nice to have this option for use when running on battery. I use this system for work and play. being tethered to an outlet kinda blows :(


thewarturtle said:

My system has the gsync AND the Intel (it shows up under device manager). My question would be why? Is it just because its a feature of the CPU? The system clearly cannot and does not use it. Which is also odd considering the first 17 r4  I purchased was able to use it (Standard Full HD 60hz panel). It would be nice to have this option for use when running on battery. I use this system for work and play. being tethered to an outlet kinda blows :(

Hi thewarturtle,

All currently available mobile CPUs offered by Intel, contain the Intel HD GPU.  The issue with G-Sync systems is really a matter of physical connection.  In order for G-Sync to work,  the panel must be connected to the nVidia GPU directly.  In a typical Optimus setup, the panel is actually connected to the Intel HD GPU's output, not the nViida card.  All of the systems video is routed through the Intel GPU, even if it is being rendered by the nVidia GPU.  Without the direct connection, G-Sync doesn't work, but you gain the ability to switch between GPUs.  So, in a laptop with a G-Sync panel (that is connected properly) the Intel HD GPU would be present, but not connected to a display.  This would explain why it shows up in your Device Manger, but is not available to use.  

Good luck!

Rich S.


Actually you do get to use it if you choose. The thunderbolt connection uses the Intel GPU and not the Nvidia!


thewarturtle said:

Actually you do get to use it if you choose. The thunderbolt connection uses the Intel GPU and not the Nvidia!

Ah, that is interesting information.  But how would it route the data to the internal display?  I suppose it could send the data across the PCI bus to the nViida GPU, they sure make things complicated :-)

Rich S.