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Windows 7: Acer Laptop: Switchable Graphics using i7 & AMD Radeon


11 Sep 2011   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 
Acer Laptop: Switchable Graphics using i7 & AMD Radeon

So I just purchased this new Acer laptop.
It has a Radeon HD 6650M, and an i7-2360QM with HD Graphics 3000. The Graphics processor within the i7 is the primary VGA and I cant get the computer to utilize the Radeon. Its supposed to be switchable with the catalyst drivers to run off the i7 for increased battery life, and the Radeon when pluged into an outlet. I've downloaded the Drivers off of asus' website and that did nothing. And when I open The Catalyst Control Center, it gives me the option to use "High Performance Graphics" this of course does nothing. The computer still runs off of the i7.

I contacted Asus technical support via online chat, and they had no idea what they were talking about, sying something along the lines of "You need to take out your new AMD card and put in another and see if that works." I told them several times that I had a laptop and no option of switching graphics cards. so I'm hoping someone here can at least guide me in the right direction.

Since I still might RMA this laptop, I don't want to do anything too crazy to get access to the Radeon. But I will accept crap battery life if that means I get to at least use the Radeon.


The Catalyst Driver version is 8.813.1.0

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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11 Sep 2011   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1
 
 

First, I suggest that you restore your original driver setup from when you first got this laptop while you perform tests of this new graphics system. In recent years the graphics drivers for both video chips had to be installed together as a package, and installing the stand-alone driver for the AMD or nVidia chip screwed things up for some folks.

That said, please be aware that I just started reading about these new graphics chips this week. I am hardly up to speed and certainly no expert.

But it is my impression, based upon this article here (nVidia Optimus, I know - but AMD and nVidia tend to mirror each other in technology):
Nvidia Unveils Optimus Switchable Graphics Technology | PCWorld
it sounds to me like the more powerful graphics chip does not "kick in" until you are actually doing something that requires more graphics power.

Here is the AMD article:
AMD Switchable Graphics Technology
While it is not clear, it could be assumed that they are doing the same thing.

Not having complete control over my computers settings would drive me right out of my mind! If these new graphics chips only run on automatic that is a real negative for me.

Let's see if others with more experience with these chips will chime in. I think this thread would be better in the Graphics Cards section for best exposure to the people who might know. I'll see what I can do about that.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Sep 2011   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

Yeah I noticed the graphics card subforum just after I posted this thread. And I don't want to Double post here and there. If a mod could move it for me, that would be most appreciated.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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14 Sep 2011   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Philone,

I understand your frustration.

I have an Aspire7750G-9657. It sounds like the same set up as yours. The Dynamic Switchable Graphics found in this model only allow you to specify GPU by either associating a program with "High Performance", or through power options. Other notebooks with switchable graphics allow the user to manually switch to the higher performing card. Some even have a switch on the case, but my understanding is these require a reboot, whereas the Acer can do it on the fly (supposedly).

For a while I was going NUTS that I couldn't switch the graphics card, but I can confirm that it does in fact switch to the 6650M when it thinks it "needs" to. The first time I ran Dragon Age 2 trial I saw a dialogue box pop up for a split second with Catalyst Control Center in the title bar (though I couldn't read anything else). The game runs and looks amazing.

That being said, I have a hard time believing it really switches when it should. I have benchmarked the performance of this notebook with Novabench and Passmark (and a couple others) and it scores high in every category except GPU. Using Passmark I ran 3D tests over and over trying different settings to see if the AMD would kick in. Generally I got 60FPS, but ONCE I got close to 400FPS! I knew that must have been the AMD but I could not recreate it. That leads me to believe that Dynamic Switchable Graphics, while great in theory, is unreliable. (It for sure works sometimes though)

I read elsewhere that HP started using Dynamic Switchable Graphics in some of their notebooks, but consumers were fed up with not having complete control, so a BIOS update was released that enabled manually switching the cards.

I love this laptop and I know the high performance graphics CAN work, so I'm keeping it and hoping for a BIOS update that will enable manually switching the GPU. Plus I've already upgraded the memory and hard drive.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Sep 2011   #5

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1
 
 

Hi tomwhatley. Welcome to the forum.

Thank you for that information. Very helpful towards understanding these new systems.

Maybe you and the OP should ask ACER for a BIOS update too .
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Sep 2011   #6

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

Thank you tomwhatley, and I have the Acer 7750G-9657 the same one that you have, I too am able to play intensive games with good FPS. this makes me think it HAS to be switching. But I cant do it manually and that's what frustrates me the most. You have been helpful in confirming my suspicions about the card switching though, and I thank you for that
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Sep 2011   #7

Win 7 Pro x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by tomwhatley View Post
Philone,

That being said, I have a hard time believing it really switches when it should. I have benchmarked the performance of this notebook with Novabench and Passmark (and a couple others) and it scores high in every category except GPU. Using Passmark I ran 3D tests over and over trying different settings to see if the AMD would kick in. Generally I got 60FPS, but ONCE I got close to 400FPS! I knew that must have been the AMD but I could not recreate it. That leads me to believe that Dynamic Switchable Graphics, while great in theory, is unreliable. (It for sure works sometimes though)
I just got done running Passmark, and I too was disappointed in the results. Out of curiosity, I ran the "Advanced" 3D Graphics test. The results were MUCH better. The only explanation I can come up with for the degree of difference is that the Advanced used the Radeon, despite the fact that it doesn't even show up in Passmark's configuration dropdown Graphics menu.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Sep 2011   #8

Win 7 Pro x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Philone View Post
So I just purchased this new Acer laptop.
It has a Radeon HD 6650M, and an i7-2360QM with HD Graphics 3000. The Graphics processor within the i7 is the primary VGA and I cant get the computer to utilize the Radeon. Its supposed to be switchable with the catalyst drivers to run off the i7 for increased battery life, and the Radeon when pluged into an outlet. I've downloaded the Drivers off of asus' website and that did nothing. And when I open The Catalyst Control Center, it gives me the option to use "High Performance Graphics" this of course does nothing. The computer still runs off of the i7.

I contacted Asus technical support via online chat, and they had no idea what they were talking about, sying something along the lines of "You need to take out your new AMD card and put in another and see if that works." I told them several times that I had a laptop and no option of switching graphics cards. so I'm hoping someone here can at least guide me in the right direction.
Acer and Asus are two different companies. It's no wonder they had no idea what to tell you.

What disappointed me is the fact that the 7750G-9657 requires very special DIMMs. I bought Kingston PC3-8500 DDR3 204 pin SO-DIMM from Newegg on the same order as I did with the laptop. When I installed them, the machine slowed to a crawl. Acer support confirms my observation - they said they were incompatible.

Further research into the matter exposes that the compatible memory goes for about $25 PER GIGABYTE!! That's $200 for 8GB - and nothing special about it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Sep 2011   #9

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by search53 View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by tomwhatley View Post
Philone,

That being said, I have a hard time believing it really switches when it should. I have benchmarked the performance of this notebook with Novabench and Passmark (and a couple others) and it scores high in every category except GPU. Using Passmark I ran 3D tests over and over trying different settings to see if the AMD would kick in. Generally I got 60FPS, but ONCE I got close to 400FPS! I knew that must have been the AMD but I could not recreate it. That leads me to believe that Dynamic Switchable Graphics, while great in theory, is unreliable. (It for sure works sometimes though)
I just got done running Passmark, and I too was disappointed in the results. Out of curiosity, I ran the "Advanced" 3D Graphics test. The results were MUCH better. The only explanation I can come up with for the degree of difference is that the Advanced used the Radeon, despite the fact that it doesn't even show up in Passmark's configuration dropdown Graphics menu.
I'm feeling too lazy to look for the link now, but I read about the way this "switch" happens and I think it's why passmark (and others) only see the integrated card.

Actually, TVeblen posted this link earlier in this thread:

Nvidia Unveils Optimus Switchable Graphics Technology | PCWorld

"....previous switchable graphics tech had to have a series of multiplexers connecting both the integrated and discrete graphics to the display...Optimus is a lot cleaner. When the discrete GPU is called for, it powers up in a split second and copies the results of its frame-buffer to the frame-buffer of the integrated graphics chip..."

In our case, the discreet card (6650M) is not directly connected to the display, only the integrated card (IntelHD3000) is. When the 6650M kicks in it does all the processing in the background and feeds that to the HD3000, which displays the results on your screen. So Passmark doesn't really know what's happening, it only sees the name of the display adapter connected to the display.

I don't know if that will cause problems with software that has a minimum graphics adapter requirement. If some software only sees the integrated card will it error out during installation saying that this computer doesn't meet the minimum requirements? Or run at lower resolution or performance because it's trying to adjust for the integrated card?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Sep 2011   #10

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by search53 View Post
What disappointed me is the fact that the 7750G-9657 requires very special DIMMs. I bought Kingston PC3-8500 DDR3 204 pin SO-DIMM from Newegg on the same order as I did with the laptop. When I installed them, the machine slowed to a crawl. Acer support confirms my observation - they said they were incompatible.

Further research into the matter exposes that the compatible memory goes for about $25 PER GIGABYTE!! That's $200 for 8GB - and nothing special about it.
I think they might be full of it. Unless your Acer has something special mine doesn't, there is no reason you cant upgrade your ram. Just make sure you match speed AND size in each channel.

The specs on Newegg and even Acer's website said the dimms were DDR3-1066/PC3-8500. They are not; they are DDR3-1333/PC3-10600. My laptop came with a 4GB Elpida dimm and a 2GB kingston.

I used CPU-Z to spec my system which is how I discovered they were PC3-10600. Naturally having two empty ram slots won't do, so I went to CompUSA and picked up a pair of generic 4GB dimms branded by PNY. I paid $50 for the pair.

Now with 14 gigs my laptop immediately started running really hot, really slow, and generally crappy. It was taking well over a minute just to get to the login. After some research I started to suspect that the oddball 2GB Kingston might be the cause, and yanking it out confirmed that suspicion. So I got a third 4GB dimm and it's been humming along nicely ever since. Been 3 months and I've had no problems. Even managed a 7.7 on the Windows Experience Index for Memory. Did I need 16GB of ram? Not at all. Could I stand having just 6 when I could spend $75 and have 16? Not at all.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Acer Laptop: Switchable Graphics using i7 & AMD Radeon




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