Switching Graphics in Pop!_OS (GUI, command-line ways)

Pop!_OS 20.04 comes with the system76-power package that includes the ability to switch between Intel, NVIDIA, and Hybrid graphics modes. Let's review it and know how to use it via GUI and command-line ways.

Pop!_OS 20.04 was released recently with a slew of features matching the tune of the Ubuntu 20.04 LTS launch! Based on Ubuntu 20.04 “Focal Fossa,” Pop!_OS 20.04 comes with several significant features that we discussed in detail in our featured article. Today, I’m going to talk in detail about one of the features I really loved in this release┬á – the Graphics Switcher.

Switching Graphics in Pop!_OS

Pop!_OS 20.04 comes built-in with the “system76-power package“, which includes the ability to switch between Intel, NVIDIA, and Hybrid graphics modes. These options can be quickly accessed from the “Power” menu located on the top right corner of the desktop.

Hybrid Graphics Mode
Power Options Menu showing Graphics modes

Integrated, NVIDIA, and Hybrid Graphics

These modes are useful when your laptop has a dedicated NVIDIA graphics card along with Intel’s integrated graphics. I’m referring to “Laptop” here because these modes are added to get the best battery juice while on the move. If your laptop is plugged into a power source all the time, the switcher tool is not useful to you. You are better off running the laptop using dedicated NVIDIA graphics to get the best performance.

If your laptop’s usage is not resource-intensive all the time, you can use the “Integrated Graphics” that gives a lower graphical performance, but longer battery life. NVIDIA Graphics mode uses the dedicated graphics 100% of the time, draining the battery much faster. Hybrid setting is introduced to get the best out of both the worlds. While in this mode, your PC will automatically utilize the NVIDIA performance on demand, for instance, when you run a graphics-intensive app like a game. At other times, the system utilizes the onboard Intel graphics. Note that every time you switch between any of the three modes, you must restart the system for the new settings to take effect.

Command-line way

For the Terminal dwellers or those who are not using GNOME DE, there is an option to switch the graphics by command-line too. Launch the Terminal and enter the following command first to see the graphics mode the system is currently using:

sudo system76-power graphics

In my case, I’m on the Integrated Graphics, so it displayed ‘Intel.’

Terminal
Terminal

If you want to switch to NVIDIA graphics, I first suggest to save and close all the applications you are running with only the Terminal open, and then fire the following command:

sudo system76-power graphics nvidia
NOTE
The system doesn’t provide any feedback if the switch was successful. To make sure I used the graphics command but I still see that the system is using the onboard graphics.
Terminal - changing modes
Terminal – changing modes

Just like in the GUI mode, you need to restart your computer for the new settings to be applied.

reboot

After the reboot, I noticed NVIDIA graphics mode is enabled.

Terminal - After Reboot
Terminal – After Reboot

Similarly, for switching to Intel Graphics, use the command,

sudo system76-power graphics intel

followed by the reboot command.

reboot

And for Hybrid Graphics, use

sudo system76-power graphics hybrid

followed by the reboot command.

reboot

Of course, you can use the help command to see the options:

system76-power help
Command Options
Command Options

Conclusion

That’s all about utilizing the Graphics selector as per your need to get the best battery life from your laptop. I use it all the time on my test laptop in which I enable the NVIDIA mode while running Virtual machines and while editing multimedia. Integrated graphics is my friend for the rest of the time.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. I’m trying to switching graphics in pop os
    Buy I’m getting error as # daemon returned an error message :”does not have switchable graphics”

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