Nvidia Drivers with Intel Integrated Graphics - Current Status?

I've looked around to find out the current Best Practices for which Nvidia drivers to use in systems with Intel integrated graphics. The answers I find are either old or contradictory, so I'm asking in hopes of getting the current status on the situation.

I have a 2012 "gaming" laptop with an Intel i7-3840QM mobile processor with Intel HD Graphics 4000. The laptop also has an Nvidia GTX 680m discrete graphics card.

I installed Manjaro XFCE with the non-free drivers. It works fine, but since I'm not a gamer the Nvidia GPU isn't being used. So I read somewhere that I should have used the free open source drivers, and I tried to change it. I'm not sure it worked. Then I read somewhere else that the non-free drivers work better, and I changed it again. By now I don't know what I actually have installed, and for this and other reasons I plan to reinstall Manjaro and get a fresh start.

So what I'd like to ask is, as of mid-January 2019, what is the best approach to use when installing Manjaro on a laptop like mine? Should I use the free or the non-free drivers? Are there any specific packages I should install afterwards? (It would be nice to find a plugin for the XFCE4 Panel that shows the Nvidia GPU temperature. Maybe my laptop (based on an MSI 1762 motherboard) doesn't provide it, but so far I've been unsuccessful.))

Thanks in advance. I think your answers will be helpful to others in a similar situation.

It's a hit and miss, depending on vendor implementation of hybrid graphics. In general, always use the non-free drivers, the installer will automatically try to setup bumblebee and if that works, you could use your nvidia card by prepending your game executable call with either optirun / primusrun. BUT, this is not guaranteed to work. In my previous ASUS X455LB, it works flawlessly. In my current ASUS ROG GL503VD, it doesn't. I have to resort to PRIME for the card to work on this gaming laptop. So, I say the current status is "trial and error". If the default bumblebee works and you're satisfied with its performance, stick with it. Otherwise, try setting up PRIME.

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Installing nvidia-utils provides command nvidia-smi to view information available for GPU
fan speed/temperature/memory
suggest try this terminal command first to confirm if temperature is being reported

xfce4-sensors-plugin-nvidia is available from AUR; which replaces xfce4-sensors-plugin

Bottom line is Nvidia has never officially supported optimus tech in Linux, all the solutions are third party hacks. There is no official best practice.

https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/NVIDIA_Optimus
https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Bumblebee
https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/PRIME

What works and what does not all depends on your hardware manufacturer, it can be very hit and miss depending on laptop makes and models.

Mhwd explicitly supports bumblebee proprietary hybrid driver, this would be my first option.

The specific mhwd bumblebee driver depends on which proprietary driver your nvidia gpu requires.

video-hybrid-intel-nvidia-bumblebee
video-hybrid-intel-nvidia-390xx-bumblebee
video-hybrid-intel-nvidia-340xx-bumblebee

On most older systems bumblebee will work OOTB, but on some newer systems some acpi kernel parameters are required to get it to boot.

On a lot of newer optimus laptops bumblebee does not work and Prime is required. Mhwd does not support prime and it has to be installed and configured manually.

There was another third party hack added to Manjaro repos recently, Optimus Manager, developed purely for Arch based distros.

This needs to be installed and configured manually also, but seems promising if bumblebee doesn't work for you and you don't want to manually configure prime.

Using mhwd open source drivers on an nvidia laptop is even more hit and miss. Either it will work or it will refuse to boot, it is kind of an unreliable mess. Nouveau open source driver is third party developed and its performance is terrible.

Whatever you decide keep a bootable ISO on hand, sometimes it takes a bit of tweaking to get a bootable system, assuming bumblebee doesn't work OOTB.

The order I would try the various options are ...

  1. Bumblebee
  2. Optimus Manager
  3. Prime

Although it you plan on primarily using your nvidia gpu then prime is the way to go.

"NVIDIA-SMI has failed because it couldn't communicate with the NVIDIA driver. Make sure that the latest NVIDIA driver is installed and running."

Does this mean I need to install the proprietary drivers? Right now I'm using bumblebee.

EDIT: If I run "optirun nvidia-smi" I get results. But I only want the temperature for information display in my panel, so it's not worth it if it uses up resources.

If I run "optirun nvidia-smi" I get a reading of 39C for my GPU, which sounds right as it's doing nothing. If I run "optirun glxgears" in a separate window, I continue to get 39C as the temperature. When I terminate glxgears and rerun nvidia-smi, now I get 45C. If I then run glxgears and monitor the temperature, it decreases steadily until I terminate it. So this isn't useful.

I installed xfce4-sensors-plugin-nvidia and it had nothing corresponding to the GPU temperature nvidia-smi reported. There was another version in the AUR, but that one had no sensor plugin at all. So it looks like I'm out of luck.

If optirun on bumblee is not as good as nvidia-smi for desktop gpu it rules that out for displaying in conky as i do on my system

if sensors do not show nvidia information, suggest you read warning in man sensors-detect
then sudo sensors-detect to get nvidia sensor added to lm_sensors configuration

Thanks for the comments and suggestions. I'll keep exploring the issue on my own.

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