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A Comparison Of AMD & NVIDIA's Linux Control Panels

Michael Larabel

Published on 2 March 2008
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 3 of 5 - 17 Comments

For satisfying those interested in tweaking all aspects of their system, the cursor shadow can also be adjusted from nvidia-settings. The X and Y offsets as well as alpha transparency and cursor shadow can be updated from the "Cursor Shadow" page. The OpenGL settings include sync to vblank, allow flipping, image vs. performance slider bar, enabling gamma correction on anti-aliased lines, and disabling use of enhanced CPU instruction sets. While not of interest to most users, the OpenGL/GLX information (glxinfo) is displayed as well as the frame buffer configurations. Rounding out the X screen options are the anti-aliasing options. The anti-aliasing level for each application can be globally overridden by nvidia-settings and the NVIDIA binary driver currently supports up to 16xQ AA. The anisotropic filtering can also be overridden and up to a 16x level. Texture sharpening can also be enabled from this area.


For each NVIDIA GPU are pages for displaying the GPU information, thermal monitor, PowerMizer, and connected monitor information. In addition, if CoolBits is enabled there is an overclocking page for each GPU. The graphics card information displayed is the graphics processor, video BIOS version, video memory amount, bus type, bus ID, IRQ, attached X screen(s), and display devices. The thermal monitor page shows the reported GPU die temperature and a simple indicator to show whether the temperature is in a safe range (green or yellow) or running hot (red). The slowdown threshold is also indicated. PowerMizer is NVIDIA's GPU power-saving technology and this page within nvidia-settings indicates whether the adaptive clock is enabled, GPU clock speed, memory clock speed, power source, performance level, and performance mode. The performance levels are also indicated, though most desktop GeForce products are limited to a single performance level within the hardware. The attached monitor page shows information on the digital flat panel (chip location, DVI connection link, signal, native resolution, best fit resolution, refresh rate, etc) and flat panel scaling settings. The nvidia-settings utility can force full GPU scaling and its method of stretched, centered, or aspect ratio scaled. The digital vibrance can too be adjusted. Last but not least, the EDID (Extended Display Identification Data) information for the monitor can be saved locally.


The final area of nvidia-settings is the configuration options for the utility itself. These settings are whether to display tool-tips within the program itself, displaying the status bar, slider text entries, including X display names in the xorg.conf file, and showing a "Really Quiet?" dialog box. Active timers (thermal monitor and PowerMizer monitor) can also be toggled with their timing intervals.

The values from nvidia-settings are saved inside each user's account in ~/.nvidia-settings-rc. This file is an INI file format and is used just by nvidia-settings. This file isn't loaded automatically unless running nvidia-settings --load-config-only manually or in your login scripts. Meanwhile, the server settings (including the NVIDIA-specific options) are saved in the xorg.conf. For command line controls, there is NVIDIA's nvidia-xconfig utility, which is also open-source. In addition, nvidia-settings supports --query and --assign arguments for obtaining and setting the options.

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