Laptop News

Nvidia Introduces Advanced Optimus – G-Sync For All?

Nvidia have announced Advanced Optimus, a new way to get the best of both worlds between integrated and discrete graphics in laptops. Let’s recap how Optimus previously worked, and see how the new Advanced Optimus improves this design.

How Optimus previously worked

The way Optimus worked previously is that the lower powered integrated graphics in the processor, whether that be Intel or Vega based, connects directly to the laptop’s screen.

Nvidia optimus diagram

When a graphically intensive task is run, the discrete Nvidia graphics takes over, however the signal goes via the iGPU which can potentially act as a bottleneck or cause other issues.

Some laptops today offer the MUX switch, like the ASUS Zephyrus GX502 for instance. This allows the user to swap between Optimus enabled for better battery life, or Optimus disabled for optimal performance and the option of enabling G-Sync. Unfortunately, this process requires a reboot to swap over, however most laptops don’t even give the user this choice at all.

What is Advanced Optimus?

A new dynamic display hardware switch connects directly to the laptop’s display. The integrated graphics (iGPU) and discrete graphics (dGPU) are connected to this dynamic switch. This new switch chooses which GPU is needed and switches as required.

Nvidia Advanced Optimus

With Advanced Optimus, this is now an automatic process and does not require a reboot, as was the case in the past. This means Nvidia based laptops will be able to offer good performance without being restricted to Optimus only configurations.

Nvidia currently use a whitelist to determine when the dGPU should take over, this same whitelist approach will work here too. In my own personal experience, this has worked quite well. I almost never open a graphically demanding application and find it running on the iGPU, so swapping based on this same criteria should make it a smooth process.

This may also mean that G-Sync could be more commonplace. A prerequisite for G-Sync is a direct connection to the display, and the dynamic switch makes this easy to implement. Given that AMD’s Ryzen 4000 series is offering FreeSync via the iGPU in new laptops, it seems Nvidia may also want to come to the party and make G-Sync more widely available to compete.

The user will also be given the option to run in iGPU only mode, ensuring battery life remains good and that random applications aren’t triggering the dGPU, lowering battery life. Likewise the user can also optionally leave the dGPU engaged all the time to experience the best performance in games and applications that have issues with Optimus – it’s great to finally have this option.

What laptops will use Advanced Optimus?

So far Nvidia have only mentioned the Lenovo Legion 7, an upcoming new model. Lenovo posted some news about their new 7i and 5i gaming laptops today. Hopefully this feature makes its way into all upcoming Nvidia based laptops, as it sounds quite promising on paper.

Unfortunately Advanced Optimus will not work with older models with a driver update or similar, as they need iGPU and dGPU need to be wired to the dynamic display switch.

12 Comments

  • Sayandip Banik

    Bro it seems like the manufacturer needs to enable the feature for it to work out of the box it’s a shame as I feel only the premium offerings will be providing us this feature

  • Erik Sierra

    I know you can’t go into hard numbers regarding benchmarks, but can you give any sort of hint on the performance gains between the new super max-q cards and the older RTX max-q cards?

    I just recently bought a Razer Blade Pro with the 2070 max-q but I’m still in my return period and I’m now I’m in the weird predicament of returning it and getting the MSI GS66 with the 10980HK and 2080 Super max-q. But it comes at the price increase of $1000 more compared to what I paid for the Razer Blade Pro. Don’t really want to spend that much more if it’s only a 5-10% increase in performance.

    • Jarrod

      I really can’t sorry, you’ll have to wait for the results in 2 weeks time unfortunately. That said, if you look at the specs, we’re only seeing a small CUDA core bump with no power limit changes, same architecture.

      • Erik Sierra

        Thanks for the reply. Looking at the specs it seems like there won’t be big improvements unless these new max-q efficiency changes (dynamic boost, low voltage gddr6, etc..) make a huge difference.

        I guess the biggest question I need to answer is if I want an 8 core CPU instead of my current 6. May be more future proof since the new consoles are using good 8 core cpus.

        Love your work. Look forward to every video even if it’s about products I don’t plan on buying!

  • Yaseen

    I really wanted to know, as a laptop gamer, is it going to damage my laptop if i leave it in charge while gaming as it has the best performance when plugged in? (I have a legion y540) I use it for university as well, and want to have it for as long as possible. I really think this is a good video idea as im sure everyone has this question but no one gives a justifiable answer to this question. Please do a test or give your honest opinion about this because I really don’t want to damage my laptop . Thanks for your time… enjoy your videos keep up the good work

  • Matt

    Is there supposed to be a performance penalty with this new optimus (that you observed in one of your older videos with the old optimus)?
    Is this going to work on linux? If so, any idea on which hybrid graphics driver to go for?

    • Jarrod

      I would expect the performance to be extremely similar to manually swapping between iGPU and dGPU that we have at the moment, just that the process is handled automatically. I have not heard any news on Linux support at this time.

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