Switching GPUs
Save battery by using the iGPU

Purpose

Please read the Disclaimers before proceeding.

This workflow is constantly being updated. Please write author with suggestions or requests.

Workflow Overview

Level: Easy. Time to complete: 2 minutes.

If you are comfortable with a terminal, please skip to Command line solution to perform all these steps in seconds.

Recognize iGPU use

The Focus has a high power Nvidia Max-Q RTX GPU which is highly reliable and efficient. It should be used for demanding tasks such as Deep Learning, Video editing, or gaming. However, there are other times when we don't need all that power and would rather use the integrated GPU (iGPU) to provide longer battery life[1].

Shortly after we unplug the power cable a number of steps are taken to minimize battery drain. Here are the most obvious:

If the Nvidia graphics card is in use on battery power, we are notified.

Save the battery

Launch Nvidia-settings

Launch the Nvdia-settings tool by using <alt>-< space> and start typing nvidia-settings.

alt-space-launch

Or using the application menu and type to search for nvidia-settings.

search-launch

Or click through the menus to find the app.

menu-launch

Select Preferred GPU

Click on Prime Profiles in the settings app. Then select the preferred GPU. Provide your password when prompted.

PRIME profiles Preferred GPU Authorize

Reboot

One should reboot immediately after switching graphics to avoid artifacts and glitches. Right-click on the desktop and select Leave... and then select reboot.

Acknowledge RMB on desktop

After reboot, one can use the Nvidia Settings app to confirm the GPU change.

Command-line alternative

This is much faster than the technique shown above. Use the guide below to switch between GPUs as needed. Remember to always reboot to avoid glitches.

prime-select query # Shows 'nvidia' or 'intel' prime-select intel # Select Intel iGPU (power-save) prime-select nvidia # Select Nvidia dGPU (perfomance)

Footnotes

  1. The Focus has over 20 unique tunings to improve battery life, and can exceed 4.5 hours of battery life in real-world use (and even longer when closing the lid to sleep). This is better than most laptops we've seen with such powerful dGPUs. The RTX power features make this possible.
  2. There is a Hybrid mode which uses both iGPU and dGPU together. However this is more complex and does not significantly improve batter life. Until we find a use case, we don’t recommend or support this mode.
  3. Hybrid mode doesn’t provide significant battery improvements with the RTX graphics card but adds significantly complexity. As a results we do not reocmmend or support this mode.

Updates

End

Disclaimers

We try hard to provide a useful workflow validated by professionals. However, we cannot anticipate every situation, and therefore cannot guarantee this procedure will work for your needs. Always back up your data and test the workflow to determine the correct procedure for you.

THIS WORKFLOW IS PROVIDED BY THE COPYRIGHT HOLDERS AND CONTRIBUTORS "AS IS" AND ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE DISCLAIMED. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE COPYRIGHT OWNER OR CONTRIBUTORS BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES; LOSS OF USE, DATA, OR PROFITS; OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION) HOWEVER CAUSED AND ON ANY THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE OF THIS WORKFLOW, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.