I have recently installed a new copy of Ubuntu 14.04 on my Dell M3800 which has Nvidia Quadro K1100M graphics card.

Later I also connected my external monitor via HDMI (HDMI to DVI connector). Then I started seeing sluggish screen performance on my laptop screen. By sluggish I mean that my keystrokes or actions seems to be always lagging. Funny enough this seems to happen only on my laptop screen, my external monitor works fine.

I have made sure to install & use Nvidia's proprietary drivers 331.38.

So I checked my Ssytem Settings > Displays. And it properly displays 2 screeens as seen below.

enter image description here

But then I went to Nvidia X Server settings & it displays just one screen with one big screen resolution as seen below.

enter image description here

I think this is causing my laptop to have sluggish performance because I am assuming that botht the external monitor & my laptop screen have a different screen refresh rate.

I am dumping xorg.conf & xandr output below,

# nvidia-xconfig: X configuration file generated by nvidia-xconfig
# nvidia-xconfig:  version 331.38  (buildmeister@swio-display-x64-rhel04-15)  Wed Jan  8 19:53:14 PST 2014

Section "ServerLayout"
    Identifier     "layout"
    Screen      0  "nvidia" 0 0
    Inactive       "intel"
    InputDevice    "Keyboard0" "CoreKeyboard"
    InputDevice    "Mouse0" "CorePointer"

Section "InputDevice"
    # generated from default
    Identifier     "Keyboard0"
    Driver         "keyboard"

Section "InputDevice"
    # generated from default
    Identifier     "Mouse0"
    Driver         "mouse"
    Option         "Protocol" "auto"
    Option         "Device" "/dev/psaux"
    Option         "Emulate3Buttons" "no"
    Option         "ZAxisMapping" "4 5"

Section "Monitor"
    Identifier     "Monitor0"
    VendorName     "Unknown"
    ModelName      "Unknown"
    HorizSync       28.0 - 33.0
    VertRefresh     43.0 - 72.0
    Option         "DPMS"

Section "Device"
    Identifier     "intel"
    Driver         "modesetting"
    BusID          "PCI:0@0:2:0"

Section "Device"
    Identifier     "nvidia"
    Driver         "nvidia"
    BusID          "PCI:2@0:0:0"

Section "Screen"
    Identifier     "intel"
    Device         "intel"
    Monitor        "Monitor0"

Section "Screen"
    Identifier     "nvidia"
    Device         "nvidia"
    Monitor        "Monitor0"
    Option         "AllowEmptyInitialConfiguration" "on"
    Option         "ConstrainCursor" "off"
    SubSection     "Display"
        Modes      "nvidia-auto-select"

xrandr output,

cdtank@cdtank-Dell-Precision-M3800:~/work$ xrandr
Screen 0: minimum 8 x 8, current 3840 x 1080, maximum 16384 x 16384
eDP-1-0 connected 1920x1080+0+0 344mm x 193mm
   1920x1080      60.0*+   59.9  
   1680x1050      60.0     59.9  
   1600x1024      60.2  
   1400x1050      60.0  
   1280x1024      60.0  
   1440x900       59.9  
   1280x960       60.0  
   1360x768       59.8     60.0  
   1152x864       60.0  
   1024x768       60.0     60.0  
   960x720        60.0  
   928x696        60.1  
   896x672        60.0  
   960x600        60.0  
   960x540        60.0  
   800x600        60.0     60.3     56.2  
   840x525        60.0     59.9  
   800x512        60.2  
   700x525        60.0  
   640x512        60.0  
   720x450        59.9  
   640x480        60.0     59.9  
   680x384        59.8     60.0  
   576x432        60.1  
   512x384        60.0  
   400x300        60.3     56.3  
   320x240        60.1  
VGA-1-0 disconnected
HDMI-1-0 connected 1920x1080+1920+0 598mm x 336mm
   1920x1080      60.0*+
   1600x1200      60.0  
   1680x1050      59.9  
   1400x1050      59.9  
   1600x900       60.0  
   1280x1024      75.0     60.0  
   1440x900       59.9  
   1280x960       60.0  
   1280x800       59.9  
   1152x864       75.0  
   1024x768       75.1     70.1     60.0  
   832x624        74.6  
   800x600        72.2     75.0     60.3     56.2  
   640x480        75.0     72.8     66.7     60.0  
   720x400        70.1  
DisplayPort-1-0 disconnected
HDMI-1-1 disconnected

UPDATE After removing the xorg.conf & rebooting. Here is the contents of it.

Section "ServerLayout"
    Identifier "layout"
    Screen 0 "nvidia"
    Inactive "intel"

Section "Device"
    Identifier "intel"
    Driver "modesetting"
    BusID "PCI:0@0:2:0"

Section "Screen"
    Identifier "intel"
    Device "intel"

Section "Device"
    Identifier "nvidia"
    Driver "nvidia"
    BusID "PCI:2@0:0:0"
    Option "ConstrainCursor" "off"

Section "Screen"
    Identifier "nvidia"
    Device "nvidia"
    Option "AllowEmptyInitialConfiguration" "on"
  • You seethe selection option in nvidia-settings, can you change this ?
    – Mark Kirby
    Aug 25, 2014 at 19:43
  • Also try turning on stereo, looks like your 2 screens a reported as 1,can you see the resolution is different on the nvidia-settings 3840 is 2 screens wide 1920 each
    – Mark Kirby
    Aug 25, 2014 at 19:46
  • @markkirby re: the selection options, just has one option i.e. X Screen 0. re: stereo, there seems to be lot of options for it like HDMI3d, Color Interleaved, Horizontal Interleaved etc.
    – Chantz
    Aug 25, 2014 at 19:49
  • Can you click or right click whith in the layout area ?
    – Mark Kirby
    Aug 25, 2014 at 20:01
  • 1
    Possible duplicate of Graphics issue with intel and nvidia
    – Amias
    Sep 15, 2016 at 17:16

11 Answers 11


I ran into basically this same issue, it turns out in my case (maybe yours as well), that this ends up being somewhat of a hardware issue with the shared graphics cards in laptops, where the intel (power saving) card is connected to the HDMI port and the nvidia (performance) card is not. The nvidia driver will then not work in a dual monitor setup since it defaults to the nvidia (performance) card. I don't get the design decision behind that (cost maybe?).

I found that the solution in my case was to either switch the default mode to power saving within the nvidia driver settings, or to switch to the nouveau driver (which seems to default to the power saving mode anyway). I could then use the second monitor when connected via the HDMI port.

Try switching to strictly using power saving mode and see if the dual monitor setup works though the system settings. If it does, then you know that you've got this quirky hardware issue. How the manufacturers solve this themselves in other OSes, and why is it not fixed in the Linux based drivers is beyond the scope of my knowledge.

But not all hope is lost. There maybe some other (better?) answers here [ Does Ubuntu 16.04 support hybrid graphics cards (bumblebee) ]. The current release (3.2.1) of bumblebee is rather old (2013) and I can't personally recommend installing it simply because I have not, but it seems that there are quite a few users that don't have issues with it. There is promise, however, of it's revival (checkout the develop branch on the Bumblebee Project githubs).

Whether you choose to take the bumblebee route or not, you should checkout the multi-monitor info on their wiki [ https://github.com/Bumblebee-Project/Bumblebee/wiki/Multi-monitor-setup ], it's quite informative.

  • 1
    +1 - this worked for me - to elaborate; go into nvidia x server settings > PRIME Profiles > Intel (power savings mode). Then log in and out. Second monitor was updating smoothly.
    – alex.p
    Nov 6, 2016 at 11:21
  • Guys you really saved my day, I was going crazy with this. The solution to set power saving mode worked. Cheers!
    – Mr.Coffee
    Apr 5, 2017 at 9:22

I have this laptop and i use it with an external 4k screen connected via the thunderbolt(display port) socket. It works fine with both screens at 4k 60hz and i don't have an xorg.conf. I have noticed that the using HDMI port can slow things down a bit display port is much better.

I am using 16.04 which works great but i have not run 14.04 on this laptop but i used both the 15. releases stably as well.

I think the issue is that graphics driver is not the right one. I am using nvidia-364 from https://launchpad.net/~graphics-drivers/+archive/ubuntu/ppa and using the updates from there.

Incidentally this laptop and the owc thunderbolt dock work really well.

  • don't go down the route of manually installing the nvidia driver , that only really works for dedicated nvidia cards not optimus ones.
    – Amias
    Sep 16, 2016 at 10:34
  • its possible your hdmi to dvi convertor is slowing things down
    – Amias
    Sep 16, 2016 at 17:28
  • Don't know if this is relevant to this case, but I haven't had any issues with Ubuntu and NVidia drivers when using Apple computers. I have been able to attach a Thunderbolt display to my iMac and even a third monitor without any problem. However I am currently working on a Toshiba laptop with Ubuntu 14.04.5 and I am having a hard time trying to get the right resolution for the display. It should be 1920x1080 but the best I can get is 1366x768.
    – mau
    Sep 29, 2016 at 14:15
  • thunderbolt is hot plug pci express , i believe there was code that handled that in the linux kernel before thunderbolt as some high availability servers have something a bit like that.
    – Amias
    Sep 29, 2016 at 15:20

From https://devtalk.nvidia.com/default/topic/807239/nvidia-server-setting-utility-doesn-t-see-laptop-screen/ : Just be sure not to have any /etc/X11/xorg.conf* files. Run this:

sudo rm -v /etc/X11/xorg.conf*

Then rebooted again and I could log in having nvidia driver perfectly working.

  • Thank! Finally, my Nvidia settings are back to normal and both the built-in and external monitor are working again simultaneously. I had the OPs problem in Ubuntu 20.04 running on a Lenovo P15 laptop with Quadro RTX 3000 GPU. Apr 17, 2022 at 9:53

On every linux distribution I have used every time I have used, whenever I plug a HDMI cable to another monitor, I get a resolution change and the things you're reporting because the settings are configuring the resolution for your external monitor. However, this also affects your laptop because in order to set setting for the other monitor, it must also set them on your laptop first, so that the HDMI cable can broadcast what your laptop screen is showing to the other monitor. So in my opinion, there isn't a way to "fix" this.

For example, I might connect a monitor with a resolution of 1366x768 but I might have a laptop with a resolution of 1024x768. The settings will tweak the resolution setting and might make the laptop have the edges of the scree not show the Ubuntu menu bar. However, they have been tweaked so that the external monitor can see it properly.


the reason you dont see the internal display in nvidia-settings https://devtalk.nvidia.com/default/topic/807239/nvidia-server-setting-utility-doesn-t-see-laptop-screen/

you can set the settings for your internal display via ubuntu's System Settings --> Displays after doing the following (i had to do this as it got the resolution and something else wrong that messed up the layout on the internal display):

sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager compiz-plugins

How to get multiple displays working with docking station?

In CCSM go to "General Options" --> "Display Settings" and do the following: Un-check "Detect Outputs" In the Outputs array, set the resolutions of each of your screens. i had 1920x1080+0+0 as the only entry in which i additionally added 1920x1080+1920+0

screenshot of compiz settings manager display settings

after that i went to ubuntu's System Settings --> Displays and had set internal display's settings there.

  • this level of hacking is not required, you are working round issues in the driver that have been fixed in newer versions. This method will create a maintenance headache.
    – Amias
    Sep 16, 2016 at 11:14

Check if the right driver is in use:

$ lspci -nnk | grep "VGA\|'Kern'\|3D\|Display" -A2

If it isn't blacklist the wrong driver:

$ sudo echo nouveau >> /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf

reboot and look again which driver is in use.

If the right driver is in use and you have still the problem, then you need to configure the xorg.conf file.Here is a good wiki, how to configure the xorg.conf for two displays

  • you can't run nvidia-settings with the nouveau driver
    – Amias
    Sep 16, 2016 at 11:15

You could try set screen0="buildtin", and screen1="monitor1", and that is in xorg.conf, and you could use gedit from the terminal, and that is in this two sections here:

      section monitor
      section screen

and it might work fine this way.


Just go with the official NVidia drivers directly from NVidia! for your card, NVidia is offering 352.63 http://www.nvidia.co.uk/download/driverResults.aspx/95285/en-uk and use this guide to install it: http://www.allaboutlinux.eu/remove-nouveau-and-install-nvidia-driver-in-ubuntu-15-04/


  • this is trickier than it seems because there isn't a straightforward update process so you will have to uninstall the nvidia drivers each time you want to update
    – Amias
    May 27, 2016 at 11:55

Unfortunately this is the way TwinView Dual-Display Architecture works... It 's the way Nvidia found correct to give a direct way to a X session to support multiples monitors at the time.

You can try Xinerama but unfortunately you will not be able to activate compositing . https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/multihead

  • no its not , this setup works fine , it just needs reconfiguring
    – Amias
    Sep 16, 2016 at 11:13
  • To the date of my answer, and considering my setup that is similar to the user setup where HDMI is managed by nvidia, and display port is managed by Intel, this is the way** NVIDIA manage video displays**, as you, with Display port, managed by Intel graphics, I have no problems too. Sep 16, 2016 at 14:44
  • You can get more information with xrandr --listproviders to see what provider (GPU) is controlling what. But sure, maybe this hybrid setup is not hardwired as mine. Sep 16, 2016 at 15:31

This might be because both of your monitors work in 60+ hrz range. Try using xrandr to manually set them both to, say, 50, or better 40, and see if it helps. Most of the laptop graphic cards do not support 120+ hrz frequency which you would need for two monitors both having 60+.

  • the update frequency is not added together. You have a good point about running at slightly lower frequencies however with recent drivers you don't need to do this.
    – Amias
    Sep 16, 2016 at 11:18
  • I've read about it somewhere, and it helped me to solve the same issue. But then it probably was just a lucky hit.
    – Ufos
    Sep 20, 2016 at 8:16

Your problem may be with the NVidia drivers.

Try using the open source Nouveau drivers.

Go to the Additional Drivers page and select the "Open Source - Nouveau" option.

  • 1
    Nouveau drivers are no where near as good as the nvidia ones.
    – Amias
    May 26, 2016 at 9:32

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