How to use switchable graphics on my laptop? Do I even have it?

I recently bought a Lenovo laptop on their UK web site. It’s a Thinkpad Edge E530, and it’s supposed to have a Nvidia graphics card, which is good because I like a bit of gaming.

However, it looks like I might have the plain, basic and cheaper Intel graphics chipset. I’ve just been on the phone with one of the Lenovo salespeople, and the guy suggested that maybe I have a model with “switchable graphics” - that is, I should have two graphics cards and the ability to switch between the two.

Well, how do I check, and how do I switch? I do not see any obvious icon or menu entry.

The E530 is only available with Intel HD 3000 graphics. Where did you see anything about an Nvidia card?

On the web configuration tool on the Lenovo site, when I placed the order. Also, the customer servicegy said “Yes, I see here that it’s supposed to have the Nvidia card”. If that wad not possible, I suppose he would have said.

Okay, I’ve got an HP Pavilion with a Radeon graphics card, but to get to Switchable graphics, I simply right-click on my desktop and “Configure Switchable Graphics” is an option in the context menu.

I’ve set it so that the system asks me each time I open a new piece of software if I want to use “High Performance” (my Radeon) or “Power Saving” (the Intel chipset)

Some games will still only show the Intel Chipset as the only one available in their setup details even if you’ve switched the graphics over (Skyrim and DXHR I’m fucking looking at you!), but they will run things like DX11 and high-level graphics settings regardless. That’s more or less the best way to indicate if you’ve got the correct card selected.

If you’re planning to use your laptop mostly as a tethered rig (only connected to mains power, rarely if ever used off of battery) you can go into the BIOS and force it to only use your Nvidia card at all times. This is a bit of overkill, because you don’t need dedicated graphics just to browse the web, but it’s the better option if you don’t want to have to mess around with settings all the time. I don’t have the details on me, but something like “Lenovo force video card in bios” or similar in a google search should turn up some decent results.

[ETA]: Only dick around in the BIOS if you’re really confident about what you’re doing, or you’ve got someone who’s willing to walk you through it.

Ah, ok I see it as an option. If you go to BIOS (F1 when starting) what does it say under display options?

It lets me pick between “Integrated Graphics” (the Intel chipset, I surmise) and “Switchable Graphics”, but there’s no explicit “Discrete Graphics”.

Sierra Indigo, it therefore looks that there’s no explicit option to keep the Nvidia card on in the BIOS. Also, I have no “Configure Switchable Graphics” from the desktop, nor anything like it.

However, and this is interesting, I have the “Nvidia Control Panel”, and if I go to the Device Manager in the Control Panel, I see both the Intel chipset and the Nvidia one. The Properties window for the Nvidia one says it’s working properly.

Another thing. This computer is sloooooooooooow and unresponsive. I only have 2 Gb of memory, and the first thing I’ll do is upgrade to 8, but maaaaan, this is so slow. An installation of Windows 7 on an older Toshiba laptop with only 512 Mb felt more responsive. It could be my impression. Any suggestions, apart from the memory upgrade?

You should be able to use these test tools to make sure the Nvidia card is working.

That’s not a lot of RAM considering all of the crap add-on software that comes with new machines and runs in the background. You might want to uninstall anything you aren’t planning on using.

More RAM should help, but by far the biggest improvement would be from installing a solid-state hard drive. They’ve come down in price quite a lot recently.

Both tools indicate the Nvidia GPU is off.

Good point, but I am not keen to open and mess around inside a newly bought laptop yet. I’ll see how it behaves after the RAM upgrade.

Is the BIOS set to Integrated Graphics or Switchable Graphics?

A couple of links, they’re for different makes of Lenovo/Nvidia card, but they may help give you some other alternatives to try:

A few driver updates, plus 3rd party drivers are also suggested as options. It seems to me, after my experiences with my laptop plus now what you’re saying about the Nvidia one, that the whole idea of switchable graphics in a laptop is a fucking retarded one. Neither Nvidia nor Radeon switchable graphics seem to work out of the box. I seem to have lucked into a configuration that works with mine, but doesn’t always work for other people with similar rigs, and it’s interesting to note that the Nvidia users seem to be having even more problems. So all I can say is good luck with it dude.

I set it to Switchable graphics. I found the time to install Steam and download a couple of games; Mount and Blade seems to work well, but then it doesn’t require much in the way of resources.

I agree with you that the way they set up this switchable system is silly. They went for a gimmick. I’d rather have a single switch to go from Integrated to Dedicated without messing with settings for each and every program, or even some software to automate switching to Integrated graphics when on battery.

But they try to outsmart the user and keep things at the lowest denominator, and so the slightly more experienced user gets frustrated.

And by the way, they call this a Thinkpad? This is not a real Thinkpad.