NVIDIA Optimus Technology Video Review

by FiXT     |     April 18, 2010

NVIDIA Optimus Technology Video Review

Featuring the Asus UL50VF Notebook

Whether you are an engineer designing an upcoming laptop for a large OEM or a single consumer looking for a netbook, battery life is always one of the primary concerns. The mobile computing market has always needed to make a tradeoff between performance and power consumption simply because higher-end parts typically consume more power than lower end ones. On the whole, graphics cards, CPUs, memory and even LCD screens deliver more performance per watt than they did in the past and that trend will continue into the future. Solid state drives have also contributed to shaving a few watts off of a typical system’s power consumption which may not seem like much for a desktop user but laptops and netbooks have been reaping the benefits.

In order to get any kind of decent video decoding, Youtube acceleration or gaming performance on a laptop, a dedicated graphics card is needed. Like it or not, even at idle modern graphics cards can have a significant impact upon overall battery life, but without one performance will grind to a halt in several applications. One of the solutions to this problem was to use a system by which the computer could switch between the efficiency of an integrated graphics processor and the dedicated GPU. Unfortunately, the implementation of this technology was unintuitive at best and needed users to do anything from rebooting their system to manually switching between the two followed by several seconds of a blank screen. What the industry needed was a way to seamlessly switch between integrated and dedicated GPUs without impacting upon work flow. This is where NVIDIA’s Optimus technology comes into play.

One thing should be made clear from the start: Optimus doesn’t directly address the fact that even modern mobile GPUs will still consume quite a bit of power. Rather, it works to limit the amount of time a dedicated graphics card will be operating by basically shutting it off when less demanding tasks are being performed. In the following review, we take a look at how this technology works when paired up with an ASUS UL50VF notebook.


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