What Is a MUX Switch and Why Should Your Next Gaming Laptop

Modern gaming laptops are so good that eking each final drop of efficiency out of the {hardware} isn’t all the time essential. Even so, players can take issues even additional with the MUX change. This is now a reasonably frequent piece of tech that would simply increase your gaming laptop computer’s efficiency by 10-15% normally. Stay tuned to learn how it really works and why your subsequent gaming laptop computer ought to have one.

Graphics Processing in Gaming Laptops

Most fashionable gaming laptops have two graphics processing items (GPU) onboard. One is the low-powered graphics processor constructed into the CPU bundle (often known as an iGPU or IGP). The second is a high-powered AMD or NVIDIA GPU (typically known as a discrete GPU or dGPU).

The cause for the inclusion of each the iGPU and dGPU is flexibility. When gaming, the pc makes use of the dGPU to speed up the graphics processing. When utilizing much less demanding packages, the system switches to the iGPU for effectivity and higher battery life.

Technically, this kind of configuration known as “iGPU passthrough”. Depending on the person system and configuration you may also see one thing like hybrid graphics or switchable graphics. Another choice is Optimus technology relying in your producer, elements, and working system.

In the case of hybrid graphics configurations, to disable the dGPU, the show must be bodily related to the built-in graphics. The dGPU principally runs within the background and sends information and pictures by the iGPU to the show. Sending these frames by the iGPU as an alternative of on to the show causes two issues. These are elevated latency and diminished framerates. Fortunately, there’s a higher approach to join the show to the dGPU and get switchable graphics, the MUX change.

What Is a MUX Switch?

A MUX change connects the iGPU and dGPU to the laptop computer’s show in a distinct method. This permits the dGPU to bypass the iGPU and ship frames on to the show.

A MUX change permits to make use of the iGPU and dGPU in switchable mode, relying in your wants on the time. A laptop computer with a MUX is theoretically the perfect of each worlds. You can use your iGPU for max effectivity or the dGPU to get the absolute best efficiency.

So far, MUX switches have been usually applied by laptop computer OEMs like ASUS, Lenovo, and Alienware. However different producers would possibly begin together with this characteristic into their choices.

NVIDIA and AMD’s Proprietary MUX Switch Alternatives

AMD and NVIDIA every have their very own applied sciences that accomplish the identical factor by related strategies. AMD’s Smart Access Graphics Technology is on the market for its RX 6000-series and newer graphics, and NVIDIA’s Advanced Optimus is on the market for its RTX 30-series and newer merchandise.

What Is A Mux Switch Nvidia Advanced Optimus Summary Custom

The proprietary options developed by AMD and NVIDIA present the identical enhancements to framerate and latency as a third-party MUX change, however every comes with caveats. AMD’s Smart Access Graphics Technology can be solely accessible on laptops with AMD APUs and Radeon GPUs, whereas a third-party MUX change is vendor-agnostic (that means it may be used with any mixture of AMD, Intel, or NVIDIA silicon).

Is the MUX Switch Better than Switchable Graphics?

As talked about beforehand, iGPU passthrough will increase latency and reduces framerates. However, you’re unlikely to note a distinction when it comes to latency, as a result of the roughly 10% discount in latency solely equates to round 2 ms. Comparatively, whole system latency, i.e. the time it takes for the system to course of a keyboard or mouse enter and present the results of that change on the show, is normally above 30 ms, even on gadgets with high-refresh-rate shows.

Connecting the show on to the dGPU impacts framerates extra dramatically than it impacts latency, so that is the place utilizing a MUX change to bypass the iGPU has probably the most profit. On methods with a MUX change, switching from the iGPU passthrough to the dGPU direct connection normally leads to a framerate enhance of 10-20%.

Are There Disadvantages to a MUX Switch?

Given {that a} MUX change permits operation of the graphics in each hybrid and direct connection configurations, there are few disadvantages. With switchable graphics disabled through the MUX change, the laptop computer harnesses its most efficiency at the price of battery life and effectivity. When switchable graphics are enabled, the laptop computer can dynamically change between iGPU graphics and dGPU graphics, permitting for higher effectivity.

One oddity on some methods is the lack of options when disabling hybrid graphics – for instance, our Lenovo Legion 5 drops FreeSync (a expertise that controls the refresh fee of a related monitor) help when hybrid graphics are disabled.

Some Features Might Go Missing

With switchable graphics enabled, the Radeon Software show settings web page reveals a toggle to allow FreeSync.

What Is A Mux Switch Radeon Software Freesync Available Cropped 1

Using the identical laptop computer, with the NVIDIA GPU controlling the show, there is no such thing as a choice for variable refresh fee choice within the sidebar the place it must be.

What Is A Mux Switch Nvidia Control Panel No Gsync 1 1

Another quirk of MUX-switch-equipped laptops is that as a way to make the change, you will need to restart the laptop computer. NVIDIA’s Advanced Optimus doesn’t have this limitation and may change between switchable graphics to dGPU-only mode on the fly.

In the case of an NVIDIA dGPU with a third-party MUX change, show recording with ShadowPlay is barely attainable if the NVIDIA GPU is processing the show data, that means solely in supported video games, or when operating in dGPU-only mode. To report the desktop, you’ll need to restart the laptop computer if it’s not already in dGPU-only mode.

Some laptops, just like the Alienware m15 R5, make you go into the BIOS. There you’ll be able to change between dGPU-only and switchable graphics modes. Going into BIOS provides additional trouble to the method and probably hides the characteristic from much less superior customers.

Lenovo’s Vantage software program for its Legion laptops permits you to change graphics in Windows, however reveals you a warning that it’s essential restart to use the change.

Lenovo Legion Vantage window showing a warning that a restart is needed in order to disable hybrid mode graphics

Who Should Buy a Laptop With a MUX Switch?

MUX switches are just about solely useful in gaming functions. Switchable graphics won’t have an effect on the efficiency in skilled workflows, like GPU acceleration of video and 3D renders. The solely those that must be involved a few MUX change are players. But not even all players must be involved.

What Games Benefit the Most From a MUX Switch?

A MUX change principally impacts video games that put a variety of pressure on the CPU with excessive framerates.

Titles like CS:GO, League of Legends, Paladins, Call of Duty, Battlefield V, and DOTA 2 operating at or under 1080p will see the largest enchancment. GPU-limited sightseeing video games, like Control, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and The Witcher 3 will see much less dramatic enhancements, particularly at greater resolutions. Some video games additionally merely don’t want excessive FPS.

In RTS video games like Anno 1800 and Age of Empires IV, for instance, a 15% FPS bump can be of little profit, since framerate doesn’t have an effect on gameplay too dramatically. The identical might be stated for the aforementioned sightseeing video games.

Likewise, if you happen to primarily sport on an exterior monitor, you additionally shouldn’t fear a few MUX change. HDMI and DisplayPort ports on laptops usually join on to the dGPU, eradicating the iGPU bottleneck.

Check If the Port Connects Directly to dGPU

If you wish to confirm whether or not the port connects on to the dGPU on a laptop computer in a retailer or one you have already got, you’ll be able to examine this within the NVIDIA management panel:

  1. Open the “NVIDIA Control Panel” by right-clicking on the desktop and deciding on the choice from there.
What Is A Mux Switch Open Nvidia Control Panel 1 Custom
  1. Alternatively, you’ll be able to open the suite by right-clicking on the “NVIDIA Control Panel” icon within the Windows system tray. Select the choice from there.
What Is A Mux Switch Open Nvidia Control Panel 2
  1. In the “NVIDIA Control Panel’s” left menu pane, go to “3D Settings”.
  2. Click on “Configure Surround and PhysX”.
What Is A Mux Switch Nvidia Control Panel Display Outputs Cropped
  1. On the precise, you must now see a diagram that signifies which GPU the show is related to. Check the inexperienced field within the picture labelled “Laptop Display”. This signifies that the show is at present related to the AMD Radeon Integrated Graphics.

You may simply examine which graphics processor is at present controlling your show utilizing AMD’s Radeon Software:

  1. Open “Radeon Settings” from the Start Menu. Or, if you happen to can’t see it, seek for it utilizing the bar on the high.
What Is A Mux Switch Open Radeon Settings 1
  1. On the “Radeon Software” web page, go to “Settings” by clicking on the Gear-shaped icon within the higher proper nook.
  2. Select the “Display” tab.
What Is A Mux Switch Open Radeon Settings 2 Cropped
  1. On the show settings web page, examine for “Global Display” on the high.
  2. Here you’ll be able to see if the show is related to the built-in graphics or to the discrete NVIDIA graphics.

How Do I Check If My Laptop has a MUX Switch?

There is not any one-size-fits-all approach to examine if a laptop computer has a MUX change — producers don’t normally instantly listing it within the spec sheet of the merchandise, and Windows doesn’t usually listing it within the machine supervisor. So, how can we examine for the presence of a MUX change? Most gaming laptops have some type of gaming software program suite – ASUS has Armoury Crate, Lenovo has Lenovo Vantage, and so forth. These both comes pre-installed or might be downloaded from the producer’s web site, and you should utilize these devoted management facilities to examine whether or not your machine has a MUX change.

To examine whether or not your laptop computer has a MUX change, open the management middle software program and search for an choice to disable hybrid graphics (typically additionally referred to as MSHybrid or NVIDIA Optimus) or allow the devoted GPU mode (additionally referred to as Discrete Mode). These choices could also be buried in a graphics configuration or gaming sub-menu, so it could take some digging.

If you don’t see an choice to disable the hybrid graphics or allow the dGPU mode within the software program suite, you’ll be able to examine within the machine’s UEFI or BIOS if there’s any point out of switchable graphics, hybrid graphics, or discrete graphics mode. It shouldn’t be frequent for laptop computer producers to bury the MUX change configuration choices within the BIOS. Almost all laptops with a MUX have entry to the choices through software program, however Dell and Alienware gaming laptops are two notable exceptions to this, as a result of they do cover the MUX change choices within the BIOS menus.

As a final resort, you’ll be able to examine Reddit, or the producer’s help web page to see if anybody else has had an identical query. Many manufacturers like Dell, Eluktronics, and Lenovo have representatives that actively reply questions on boards like r/GamingLaptops, r/dell, r/eluktronics, and r/lenovo.

Laptops With the MUX Switch

ASUS has announced that each one of its laptops in 2022 and past are designed with both a MUX change, Advanced Optimus, or Smart Access Graphics. Most of Lenovo’s Legion lineup and lots of MSI and Eluktronics laptops additionally characteristic MUX switches – are you able to inform the MUX change grew to become considerably of a development in 2021?

Nanoreview maintains a complete list of gaming laptops with MUX switches, so if you happen to’re purchasing round for a gaming laptop computer and assume you would possibly profit from a MUX change, it’s value checking if the choices inside your finances are on the listing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I discover the improved efficiency when utilizing a MUX change?

It will depend on your laptop computer configuration and your use case. If you’re utilizing a laptop computer with a 1080p high-refresh-rate show, a high-end GPU, and also you’re enjoying video games that ship framerates above ~100 FPS, sure you’ll discover. If you’re utilizing a 60Hz panel, otherwise you’re already utilizing low-end {hardware}, you in all probability gained’t discover a distinction. Likewise, in case you are shopping for a gaming laptop computer as a type of low-cost workstation, you needn’t fear an excessive amount of a few MUX change, since productiveness functions don’t profit from a MUX change.

Can you put in a MUX change after you’ve bought your laptop computer?

Unfortunately, you can’t add a MUX change as an aftermarket element. As with most core laptop computer elements, a MUX change is one thing that must be built-in into the design of the motherboard and utilized throughout the manufacturing course of. Additionally, producers want to regulate each the firmware and software program of the machine to accommodate the MUX change. If you might be in search of the identical efficiency increase {that a} MUX change presents, your finest guess is connecting an exterior show to your laptop computer through an HDMI port or DisplayPort, as that normally bypasses the iGPU.

Is it a deal-breaker if a laptop computer doesn’t have a MUX change?

Not in any respect. In some instances, thermal design can play an even bigger position in laptop computer efficiency than any MUX change may. If you might be evaluating a laptop computer with a MUX change and an RTX 3050 to a laptop computer with an RTX 3060 sans MUX change, you’re higher off going with the mannequin with the extra highly effective graphics within the RTX 3060. There’s extra to a gaming laptop computer than a MUX change.

All screenshots by Julian van der Merwe

Image credit score: Unsplash and MSI

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