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, 2017 at 22:33

1 Answer 1


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.).

  • AFAIK Bumblebee is depreciated. It has not been developed for a few years and only works on <=14.04. You can find quite a few questions on here where it needed removing. You can see here launchpad.net/~graphics-drivers/+archive/ubuntu/ppa only 14.04 is supported but some claim to have got it working on 16.04 with extra steps askubuntu.com/questions/758972/…
    – Mark Kirby
    Jan 29, 2017 at 21:48
  • @KazWolfe Thanks, I am little confused about this, but now it is better.
    – J. Doe
    Jan 30, 2017 at 17:29

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