What Is NVIDIA Optimus Technology?

An explanation of NVIDIA's hybrid graphics platform


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When you're looking at a laptop's technical specifications, you may notice that some NVIDIA graphics cards feature something called Optimus technology. What is Optimus? Why is it important? And is it worth prioritizing when looking for a new laptop?

What Is NVIDIA Optimus?

Optimus is a technology developed by NVIDIA that automatically adjusts graphics based on how you're using a given device. This optimization better conserves battery power on a laptop computer. It is sometimes also referred to as a hybrid graphics system.

Optimus automatically transitions between integrated graphics and a discrete GPU based upon what applications you're using. This allows you to utilize high-performance graphics during gameplay or when watching an HD movie. When you're done or are simply surfing the web, Optimus-enabled systems can switch to integrated graphics to prolong battery life.

What Are the Benefits of Using a Laptop With Optimus Technology?

The key benefit of using a notebook with Optimus technology is better battery life, as the system isn't running the more power-demanding discrete graphics card all the time. By automatically switching between integrated graphics and a dedicated graphics card, battery life is sure to improve in mixed usage situations. Since the function is performed automatically, it also improves upon previous hybrid graphics systems that required the users to manually switch between the two graphics systems.

How to Find a Laptop With Optimus Technology

Any Optimus system must have a compatible NVIDIA graphics card and clearly state that Optimus technology is supported. Not all modern laptops with the latest NVIDIA graphics cards have this feature. In fact, two similar laptops within the same manufacturer series may not have it.