Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The 9400M G

I've received a few questions on the 9400M G and whether or not I have it enabled. Figured I would post this here for everyone.

The 9400M G can be a very handy asset in the M17x's arsenal. By switching to the 9400M G chip when on battery, your battery time will increase significantly.

NVIDIA has made this easy for us with Hybrid SLI. Essentially, all you have to do is unplug your AC Power and you will automatically switch over. Once you return to AC Power, your Discrete GPU(s) will enable and power up. For most users, this is fine and there are no issues associated with this switch.

I have chosen to disable the 9400M G via the M17x's BIOS. This is done by disabling both Hybrid Graphics and Integrated Graphics.

When I know I will be off AC Power for an extended period of time (off site meetings, travel, etc.), I will re-enable both Hybrid Graphics and Integrated Graphics in the BIOS in order to take full advantage of the battery using the 9400M G as the active GPU.

I choose to disable the 9400M G for for two reasons:

  • The current drivers (be it Dell's releases or the 186.24, .82, 91 releases), seem to get along better when the 9400M G is disabled. Benchmark runs I have conducted usually score higher with it disabled. I also would rather not see the chip under more load than is needed.

  • When the 9400M G is enabled, as the OS is loading the Windows Log in screen, there is a distinct flashing/refreshing of the screen. The screen can flash/refresh several times before loading. With the 9400M G disabled, this is not an issue.

    Following is a description of the Hybrid Graphics & Integrated Graphics options via the BIOS:
    Hybrid Graphics - Disabled / Integrated Graphics - Enabled:
    M17x will use the integrated video card only. Video output to external displays will be disabled.

    Hybrid Graphics - Disabled / Integrated Graphics - Disabled:
    M17x will use the discrete video card(s) only. Regular SLI mode will be available for systems with 2 NVIDIA discrete video cards.

    Hybrid Graphics - Enabled / Integrated Graphics - Enabled:
    Hybrid SLI will be enabled. Maximum performance available.
    For additional info on HybridSLI and the underlying technology, see the following:

  • NVIDIA's Hybrid SLI Tech brief (1.26 MB PDF)

  • NVIDIA's HybridSLI Video

    Basically, it all boils down to personal preference. I just wanted to share my reasons for having it disabled while on AC Power. If you feel you want to keep it enabled, then of course, please do so. This is not a critical issue.

    Reference Source: AW KB