Problem Overview

We have been playing with NVIDIA Optimus Technology for a couple of weeks now and I have been nothing but impressed by this new mobility offering that promises the performance of discrete graphics solutions with the battery life of integrated graphics. Can NVIDIA really pull it off? We think they have, so stop in and read (or watch!) our review of the future of mobile computing!
As more and more consumers move towards using notebooks as their primary or only computer, the need for a more robust and flexible computing solution is required.  Even in their most current form, notebook computers usually exist at one end of the spectrum or another; either the machine is built for longer battery life or it is geared towards being a desktop replacement with higher performance.  In nearly all cases, one aspect of that decision is whether or not the notebook will have a discrete graphics solution; most of the time laptops built for battery life will not integrate discrete GPUs because they use more power and because they require space on the PCB thus making the machine slightly larger than it might have to be. 

This offers customers with a choice: buy a system that was capable of doing things like playing games, watching HD video reliably or running GPU-based applications well or buy a system that lacked some of those features in favor of longer battery life.  I think we have all thought about this at some point: my personal notebook purchasing decision stressed battery life over all else (making those many flights I take each year more bearable) and thus I am not able to take advantage of Flash HD playback acceleration or gaming.  For most of us, we assumed that was part of life on the road.  With Optimus Technology, NVIDIA hopes to change that.

NVIDIA Optimus Technology: Performance and Battery Life for your Notebook - Mobile 27

Don’t confuse the current generation of switchable graphics with NVIDIA Optimus.  Past and current generations of switchable graphics (that include both an integrated graphics solution and a separate discrete graphics solution) required you to either reboot, logout or at the very least, close all of your open applications before being able to switch between the integrated and discrete graphics on the system.  It was a pain and very few people ever took the time to go through the process.  We will detail the reasons for this on the next page (and why we will be glad to be rid of it). 

Optimus promises the best of both worlds: the extended battery life of IGP-based systems and the power and performance of discrete-based systems.  And, we are told, all of this can be done without the knowledge of or interaction with the consumer.  That is a lofty claim but if NVIDIA is accurate, it could drastically the change the notebook market as we know it. 

The NVIDIA Optimus Technology Video Review

With a touch of humor to along with the barrage of data and information, I think you’ll enjoy our video review of the NVIDIA Optimus Technology.  There are more details in our text version (that you are currently already reading) but we encourage you to check out our video review and welcome your feedback!

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