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Considering that some systems have both Intel 4xxx and Nvidia/other graphics card, yet apparently it isn't easy to switch between them on Linux, is it really worth it getting the extra Nvidia card, like in the Bonobo Extreme laptop?

In terms of normal web browsing/ web development / programming /webGL use, does Ubuntu take advantage of a second graphics card, or use it for processing like Mac OS Grand Central?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Braiam, Avinash Raj, BuZZ-dEE, mikewhatever, falconer Feb 9 '14 at 17:39

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I have a Thinkpad W520 with both intel and nvidia graphics (via nvidia optimus). I very, very, rarely use the nvidia graphics card, and I think that if I were to buy it again, I would skip the extra card because of the extra hassle it brings.

The intel card is perfectly adequate for web browsing, programming, and even some light 3D things like the occasional google earth adventure. If you were to get a linux-optimized laptop with an nvidia card like the bonobo extreme, I would imagine that it would always use the nvidia card, which would severely cut battery life. Most of the time, I completely turn off my nvidia card to save power.

If you are thinking about getting a laptop designed for windows with nvidia optimus, be prepared to learn much more than you want to about the graphics systems. Since nvidia and the open source graphics community haven't been fully cooperating, getting things like extra monitors to work with optimus is very difficult on some models.

I am not aware of any programs running on my machine that use the GPU for non-graphics processing, except for research codes that I have occasionally been involved with.

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That's what I kind of suspected - but isn't Grand Central coming to Linux? From the article: "Linux and Solaris support are provided within the upstream trunk" – NoBugs Oct 31 '13 at 14:48
Its possible, however I doubt that it will make a huge difference in how well non-high-performance-graphics tasks are handled. Really, you don't need to justify getting an nvidia graphics card to anyone else though. If you want one, just get it ;) It might make a few things less convenient, but if you think it would be cool to have, you don't need another reason – Zach Nov 1 '13 at 4:04
Unfortunately, installing CUDA breaks Ubuntu optimus: What setup are you using to turn off Nvidia? I heard there will be a switcher program working in 14.04. – NoBugs Feb 10 '14 at 4:03
I use this setup. Its probably not ideal for most people, but it is stable and works for me.… – Zach Feb 17 '14 at 6:42

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