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Thread: Use ONLY nVidia discrete graphics on Optimus laptop N56VZ Ubuntu 13.04

  1. #1
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    Use ONLY nVidia discrete graphics on Optimus laptop N56VZ Ubuntu 13.04

    I used to have an ASUS G74Sx RoG laptop with an nVidia GeForce GTX 560M 3GB on Ubuntu 13.04 on which I used the nVidia proprietary drivers (310 I think) from my Additional Drivers section of my software sources. Everything worked great.

    I recently purchased a new N56VZ which I was led to believe had a GeForce GT 650M 2GB, but I had no idea about the nVidia Optimus technology or that it was actively using both integrated and dedicated graphics. I assumed it was like every other computer I've used before with a dedicated graphics card. What's worse is neither the retailer nor ASUS has any indication on their websites that this laptop has anything but the discrete graphics card.

    So obviously I'm having issues with Optimus. I feel jipped. And I'm trying to figure out if there is any reasonable graphics setup I can have with this laptop before contacting the retailer for a refund (which I'm hoping they will grant me on the grounds that the laptop was not advertised as having Optimus or anything other than the discrete graphics card). Below I will indicate my needs, what I've tried, what my understanding is from my past two weeks of research, and why I don't believe Bumblebee provides a solution for my situation:

    I don't run any games, but I do run some graphically intense software like video editors; mainly I use the HDMI output to watch VLC on an extended monitor (TV) while working in the main desktop on the laptop screen (HDMI out to TV and then optical from TV to sound system). I also like to put a lot into having the computer run very flashy and graphics intensive in the desktop. This why I opted for a somewhat high end graphics card even though I don't do any gaming. This is also why, to my understanding, Bumblebee does not provide a suitable solution by allowing me to run specific applications with the discrete graphics card as I would want the whole system, at least especially the DE, window manager, and every other app I run to use the discrete graphics card.

    I've contacted ASUS and they told me that the HDMI out was wired into the integrated chip and confirmed that there was no way to use the BIOS to disable the integrated graphics and that if I did disable integrated graphics that the HDMI output would not work. I've also seen a workaround on webupd8 to get HDMI output working with Bumblebee by running another desktop environment out of the HDMI using a piece of software called Primus (i think) but I've also read that people were mostly unsuccessful in getting sound through the HDMI. If I can't find any configuration to essentially use the nVidia discrete graphics 100% of the time, I will dig further into this workaround and see if there is some way I can get a good feasible working setup with HDMI output and sound. This is because I've considered some of the advantages of having the HDMI output in a second DE (e.g., workspaces on the laptop but not on the TV).

    So to clarify, there is no way to use Bumblebee to run the all of Ubuntu with the discrete graphics (and working HDMI out) as far as I know (which is what I really want to do), and there is no way to get Bumblebee working with HDMI video and audio output. If there is a way to get either of these two things to work on Bumblebee please point me to a guide or where people have figured it out and I will give it a try.

    Obviously installing any standard nVidia drivers that are supported for my GeForce GT 650M breaks Unity. Unity can be restarted through compiz and resolving conflicts with gnome but it doesn't exactly run smooth and clean like it should. I've read that people who can select which GPU to use in their BIOS are able to successfully latest nVidia proprietary drivers without issue by turning off integrated graphics and using only the discrete graphics card. As far as I understand this is not an option for me as confirmed by ASUS (and I've gathered this similarly rules out using vga switcheroo).

    =======================
    CONCLUSIONS
    =======================
    =======================

    I have absolutely no interest in power savings or using the integrated graphics chip. I didn't know it had to be active in the laptop when I purchased and wish I didn't have it and had only the GeForce GT 650M advertised to come with the laptop. I can see why some people would want it but I feel like I've essentially wasted money on the cost of the graphics card (but I've had lengthy e-mail correspondence with ASUS about this and how it suggests they are trying to force people to use windows). Any way I can figure out to run all of Ubuntu using only the GeForce graphics card 100% of the time is all I'm looking for (to use the graphics card advertised with the computer).


    From what I've researched:

    1. Bumblebee is not option because no HDMI or ability to run all of Ubuntu with discrete graphics

    2. Normal proprietary drivers conflict with the integrated graphics chip

    3. Latest stable nVidia Optimus drivers for linux are version 319.49 and are certified. I still need to try these. I haven't found any online documentation regarding them, even how to install them. I've seen some documentation on the 319.12 beta drivers and the majority of people having issues or recommending to stick with Bumblebee. Since I have not found an installation guide for the latest stable nVidia drivers that are SUPPOSED to support Optimus in linux, I have not gotten around to trying it yet but that's essentially what I'm going to do right after this post and let you guys know how it works.

    4. If anyone else has any other suggestions that I have not thought of or tried then please let me know. I got a great deal on this laptop (I got one for me and one for a friend) so I don't want to have to return the two of them. Thanks for reading.

  2. #2
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    Re: Use ONLY nVidia discrete graphics on Optimus laptop N56VZ Ubuntu 13.04

    Remove Ubuntu 13.04, download Ubuntu 12.04.3 LTS and install, you will have automatic Optimus support on your laptop out of the box with latest nvidia 319 drivers. https://wiki.ubuntu.com/X/HybridGraphics Works beautifully with my ASUS K55VM hybrid i7 laptop with HDMI out fully functional including audio.
    Last edited by Linuxisfast; September 15th, 2013 at 04:47 AM.

  3. #3
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    Re: Use ONLY nVidia discrete graphics on Optimus laptop N56VZ Ubuntu 13.04

    Thanks for the reply. I was thinking of rolling back to 12.04 to see if I got out of the box support. So if I install 12.04 I can just select the optimus drivers through Software Sources > Additional Drivers?

    I will definitely give this a try and confirm that it works for me.

    I still want to ask, since when I was buying this laptop I was under the impression it only had one active GPU, is there a way to just use the discrete card 100% of the time? I'm not really interested in the battery savings, just looking for high graphic performance from the desktop, video players and video editors. When I spoke to ASUS they said that if I was using Windows they would tell me how to use the discrete card 100% of the time but since I was using Linux they told me to shove it up my a$$ (I indicated to them that if that was their official stance on Linux that I would never purchase or recommend ASUS products again), I was essentially wondering if I could do the same thing in Ubuntu? ASUS implied that this was a setting that could be changed in the nVidia configuration so I will take a look after installing 12.04 but maybe you can indicate to me whether this is possible?

    The reason I was asking is because I was getting very poor performance through my external display (cursor trailing and so on) through the integrated card. I imagine it will be better with the Optimus drivers in 12.04 but like I said, I was never interested in power savings and just want optimal performance. Since you've been using the drivers maybe you could let me know if it's possible to use the discrete card 100% of the time or if switching between the two provides similar performance quality? I'm really not liking the idea behind this Optimus technology and am considering returning my laptops for one with a single GPU. It seems a lot more beneficial to gamers and more like a nuisance to non-gamers. Or maybe I've just got the wrong impression from all the trouble I've had to go through trying to get it working? Thanks, any opinions are welcome and appreciated. I'll admit this last week has left a pretty bad taste in my mouth regarding ASUS, nVidia and dual-GPU technology so I could have a pretty strong negative bias that I'd be open to have corrected if it is indeed wrong.

  4. #4
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    Re: Use ONLY nVidia discrete graphics on Optimus laptop N56VZ Ubuntu 13.04

    Quote Originally Posted by bmass View Post
    Thanks for the reply. I was thinking of rolling back to 12.04 to see if I got out of the box support. So if I install 12.04 I can just select the optimus drivers through Software Sources > Additional Drivers?

    I will definitely give this a try and confirm that it works for me.

    I still want to ask, since when I was buying this laptop I was under the impression it only had one active GPU, is there a way to just use the discrete card 100% of the time? I'm not really interested in the battery savings, just looking for high graphic performance from the desktop, video players and video editors. When I spoke to ASUS they said that if I was using Windows they would tell me how to use the discrete card 100% of the time but since I was using Linux they told me to shove it up my a$$ (I indicated to them that if that was their official stance on Linux that I would never purchase or recommend ASUS products again), I was essentially wondering if I could do the same thing in Ubuntu? ASUS implied that this was a setting that could be changed in the nVidia configuration so I will take a look after installing 12.04 but maybe you can indicate to me whether this is possible?

    The reason I was asking is because I was getting very poor performance through my external display (cursor trailing and so on) through the integrated card. I imagine it will be better with the Optimus drivers in 12.04 but like I said, I was never interested in power savings and just want optimal performance. Since you've been using the drivers maybe you could let me know if it's possible to use the discrete card 100% of the time or if switching between the two provides similar performance quality? I'm really not liking the idea behind this Optimus technology and am considering returning my laptops for one with a single GPU. It seems a lot more beneficial to gamers and more like a nuisance to non-gamers. Or maybe I've just got the wrong impression from all the trouble I've had to go through trying to get it working? Thanks, any opinions are welcome and appreciated. I'll admit this last week has left a pretty bad taste in my mouth regarding ASUS, nVidia and dual-GPU technology so I could have a pretty strong negative bias that I'd be open to have corrected if it is indeed wrong.
    You just have to download latest 12.04.3 and install, select third party tab during install and nvidia is automatically installed when you reboot. No need to do anything, its installed with all the requisite components needed including xrandR, xserver and nvidia-prime. The optimus driver uses nvidia card piped through the Intel graphic so HDMI works and there is power saving via nvidia blob. What you faced with ASUS support you will face with any other company when you mention the LINUX word but its all changing as ASUS is now selling OEM Ubuntu laptops in China, India and elsewhere. As for dual GPU support, it has nothing to do with ASUS, its all to do with Nvidia and thats why the middle finger outrage of Torvalds at Nvidia. Thankfully people like David Airlie of Red Hat and his hard work with nvidia prime, now Optimus support is possible.

    I also abhorred discrete GPU laptops due to their heat generation and battery issue and always used the onboard Intel GPU but lately none of the manufacturers selling i7 make one without discrete card. For marketing reason, they always tag a discrete card along. However when Optimus was out for Ubuntu I tried and was impressed with the performance of the discrete card during accelerated web browsing. Do bear in mind that Chrome doesn't enable the hardware features by default, they need to be enabled via flags. I don't do any gaming but I do need CUDA which I use on my desktop, now I can use it on my laptop as well.
    Last edited by Linuxisfast; September 16th, 2013 at 02:28 AM.

  5. #5
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    Re: Use ONLY nVidia discrete graphics on Optimus laptop N56VZ Ubuntu 13.04

    Quote Originally Posted by Linuxisfast View Post
    You just have to download latest 12.04.3 and install, select third party tab during install and nvidia is automatically installed when you reboot. No need to do anything, its installed with all the requisite components needed including xrandR, xserver and nvidia-prime. The optimus driver uses nvidia card piped through the Intel graphic so HDMI works and there is power saving via nvidia blob. What you faced with ASUS support you will face with any other company when you mention the LINUX word but its all changing as ASUS is now selling OEM Ubuntu laptops in China, India and elsewhere. As for dual GPU support, it has nothing to do with ASUS, its all to do with Nvidia and thats why the middle finger outrage of Torvalds at Nvidia. Thankfully people like David Airlie of Red Hat and his hard work with nvidia prime, now Optimus support is possible.

    I also abhorred discrete GPU laptops due to their heat generation and battery issue and always used the onboard Intel GPU but lately none of the manufacturers selling i7 make one without discrete card. For marketing reason, they always tag a discrete card along. However when Optimus was out for Ubuntu I tried and was impressed with the performance of the discrete card during accelerated web browsing. Do bear in mind that Chrome doesn't enable the hardware features by default, they need to be enabled via flags. I don't do any gaming but I do need CUDA which I use on my desktop, now I can use it on my laptop as well.
    So I installed Ubuntu 12.04.3 and selected to install 3rd party software and updates. I ran sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade and plugged in my HDMI... nothing. At least in 13.04 a vanilla install detected the TV and was able to output video to HDMI (but no audio). The nVidia 319 were installed and working by default like you said though. I checked in additional drivers and switched from the post-release drivers to the recommended drivers and restarted. Still no HDMI output.

    Please let me know if you have any ideas why HDMI might not be working. Thanks.

  6. #6
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    Re: Use ONLY nVidia discrete graphics on Optimus laptop N56VZ Ubuntu 13.04

    Quote Originally Posted by bmass View Post
    So I installed Ubuntu 12.04.3 and selected to install 3rd party software and updates. I ran sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade and plugged in my HDMI... nothing. At least in 13.04 a vanilla install detected the TV and was able to output video to HDMI (but no audio). The nVidia 319 were installed and working by default like you said though. I checked in additional drivers and switched from the post-release drivers to the recommended drivers and restarted. Still no HDMI output.

    Please let me know if you have any ideas why HDMI might not be working. Thanks.

    Was nvidia prime package installed as well, HDMI works fine here on my laptop and I use post release. Did you try the detect displays button? Also on sound settings did you have HDMI sound selected?
    Last edited by Linuxisfast; September 20th, 2013 at 09:09 AM.

  7. #7
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    Re: Use ONLY nVidia discrete graphics on Optimus laptop N56VZ Ubuntu 13.04

    I have been following this thread since the beginning. I too have N56VZ and 650m card and has the same problem as bmass. I downgraded from 13.04 to 12.04.03 and installed nvidia-prime, activated nvidia-updates, etc. Still looking for a working solution

  8. #8
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    Re: Use ONLY nVidia discrete graphics on Optimus laptop N56VZ Ubuntu 13.04

    Quote Originally Posted by ronmaster View Post
    I have been following this thread since the beginning. I too have N56VZ and 650m card and has the same problem as bmass. I downgraded from 13.04 to 12.04.03 and installed nvidia-prime, activated nvidia-updates, etc. Still looking for a working solution

    No HDMI out for you either? Nvidia Optimus doesn't need to be installed as its automatically installed in Optimus laptops during Ubuntu installation.

  9. #9
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    Re: Use ONLY nVidia discrete graphics on Optimus laptop N56VZ Ubuntu 13.04

    Quote Originally Posted by ronmaster View Post
    I have been following this thread since the beginning. I too have N56VZ and 650m card and has the same problem as bmass. I downgraded from 13.04 to 12.04.03 and installed nvidia-prime, activated nvidia-updates, etc. Still looking for a working solution

    No HDMI out for you either? Nvidia Optimus doesn't need to be installed as its automatically installed in Optimus laptops during Ubuntu installation.

  10. #10
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    Re: Use ONLY nVidia discrete graphics on Optimus laptop N56VZ Ubuntu 13.04

    maybe it is... maybe it is contained in the nvidia driver:
    lspci -k | grep -iA2 vga
    00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation 3rd Gen Core processor Graphics Controller (rev 09)
    Subsystem: ASUSTeK Computer Inc. N56VZ
    Kernel driver in use: i915
    --
    01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: NVIDIA Corporation GK107M [GeForce GT 650M] (rev a1)
    Subsystem: ASUSTeK Computer Inc. N56VZ
    Kernel driver in use: nvidia
    ron@N56VZ:~$ dpkg --get-selections | grep -i nvidia
    nvidia-319 install
    nvidia-319-updates install
    nvidia-common install
    nvidia-prime install
    nvidia-settings-319 install
    nvidia-settings-319-updates install
    ron@N56VZ:~$ lsb_release -a
    No LSB modules are available.
    Distributor ID: Ubuntu
    Description: Ubuntu 12.04.3 LTS
    Release: 12.04
    Codename: precise


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