Should you get a MUX switch-enabled gaming laptop?

Laptops have advanced significantly in the last decade in terms of gaming performance. As a result of more powerful integrated graphics cards and central processors, many laptops can compete with low to mid-range desktops. However, some laptops use a MUX switch that allows for better gaming performance. Let’s discuss what a MUX switch is and why you may consider one for your next gaming laptop.

What is a MUX switch?

A MUX (multiplexer) switch improves graphical performance by swapping the graphics processing unit (GPU) actively used by the display, so instead of pulling from the integrated GPU, it’ll channel the discrete GPU.  Most laptops use either an accelerated processing unit (APU), which is a central processing unit (CPU) that contains a GPU, or a CPU with integrated graphics to maximize battery life. Gaming laptops, however, can have a dedicated GPU (dGPU) and an integrated GPU (iGPU) alongside the CPU. The system can’t switch between these graphics alone, however. To do this function, Nvidia GPUs use a software called Optimus, while AMD and Intel systems use Switchable Graphics. 

With an Optimus program enabled, the PC will automatically switch between the weaker integrated graphics and the more powerful discrete graphics based on need. This software helps improve battery life that would otherwise drain faster using only the dGPU. Though Optimus is suitable for gaming on the go and gives up to a 30% boost to performance, the dGPU is still the best way to get the maximum performance out of the system.

AMD Radeon RX 6800M (Image credit: AMD)

Using a MUX switch, you can go into the BIOS and disable Optimus, automatically enabling the more powerful graphics card. Moreover, disabling Optimus enables software like Nvidia Shadowplay and GSync that isn’t compatible with iGPUs. Shadowplay is Nvidia’s solution to screen recording and streaming in the vein of OBS and AMD’s Adrenaline software. GSync is a variable refresh rate (VRR) technology that matches the display’s refresh rate to the GPU’s framerate.

How do I check if my laptop has a MUX Switch?

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