I am going to play some games on my laptop with Ubuntu 16.10 installed. I want to use my Nvidia 710m card but I don't know which method I may use, prime or optimus? Which one is better?

Here is my hardware:

  • CPU: Intel core i3-3110m @ 2.4GHz
  • RAM: 4GB
  • VGA: Intel HD 4000 or 4400 I am not sure
  • 3D Controller: nVidia 710m
  • Note to Close-Voters: Prime and Optimus are two different technologies entirely -- one is not "better" than the other because they're different (but related) things. Thereby, this question is not POB. – Kaz Wolfe Jan 30 '17 at 22:33
up vote 5 down vote accepted

I think you're confusing technologies here.

NVIDIA Optimus is the codename for the dual graphics card split enjoyed by a wide variety of "gaming" laptops with "dedicated" graphics. It has nothing to do with any form of software, it's merely a type of hardware setup.

Thereby, NVIDIA Prime is NVIDIA's solution to implementing Optimus usability on Linux. That being said, NVIDIA Prime is closed-source. It also has an annoying tendency to drain laptop batteries, as the discrete card usually stays enabled due to the lack of per-application switching found on Windows.

The open-source software community attempted to fix this with the creation of the Bumblebee project. Instead of using the always-on or always-off mode of Prime, Bumblebee created a utility called optirun that allows you to specify whether a program should be loaded with the discrete graphics card or not. However, reports of Bumblebee's performance are mixed at best, and have been known to be relatively buggy.

It would ideally be better to try Prime and Bumblebee (you can switch between them rather easily) and just decide which you like more (which gives you better performance, a longer battery life, etc.).

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