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  • Laptop GPU/display selection for Linux

    Hi,

    Facing a purchase of a new laptop. I'm a somewhat proficient Linux user but when it comes to graphics sometimes I feel almost like a complete noob. Here is what I need the laptop for:

    1) Watching movies - either with a standalone player or from a (hopefully hardware-accelerated) browser. Made some research on browsers, things look more or less doable in Linux. Also want to be as future-proof as possible (decoding 4K HDR and 8K possibly?).
    2) Plenty of work on a KVM-based Win 7 VM. No Windows without virtualization stays on my hardware.
    3) Standard office apps, no gaming, no video editing, no external monitor or TV used.

    Due to a whole bunch of reasons I'll be going for HP Omen or ZBook. For the sake of discussion assume the following is present in the system: NVMe SSD, 16GB DDR4 RAM (2400 or 2666MHz), Core i7-8750H CPU, Lubuntu x64 (16.04 or 18.04 - doesn't matter to me).

    I want a 17-inch display and here is what I can chose from (and unfortunately never see with my own eyes before purchase):

    1) FHD 120Hz 300 nits
    2) FHD 144Hz 300 nits
    3) UHD 60Hz 300 nits
    4) UHD 60Hz HP DreamColor 400 nits

    Read some stuff about scaling on small-size (e.g. below 20-inch) 4K displays. I wonder how Ubuntu handles this issue? Can't find anything useful in forums.

    Used to have a very-good 23kg 19-inch 120Hz Sony Trinitron back in the day I prefer it every day before these crappy modern LCD displays. Does 120/144Hz on LCDs feel like good old CRT monitors in your experience?

    GPUs I can chose from are:

    1) Intel - HD 630. It has sufficient power (and more importantly - driver support) to decode 1080p and also 4K encoded with HEVC Main 10 profile. Has anyone tried 4K HDR, 8K?

    I assume at least 4GB of system RAM will be necessary to play such demanding content based on what I read. Can Ubuntu 18.04 use that much for the integrated video card? I saw there are some limitations on Win 7 and Win 8 but can't find anything for Ubuntu.

    2) NVidia - GTX 1050, 1050Ti, 1060, or Quadro P1000. Lack of driver support for HEVC Main 10 profile makes me want to stay away from these for now. There is a ticket open on NVidia's site which has been unresolved for almost 2 years. Besides that plenty of bad experience with NVidia on previous laptops (overheating, crappy proprietary drivers, you name it).

    3) AMD Radeon Pro WX4170 - I read very good things about recent AMD Linux support. Devs from AMD seem to be developing in parallel two sets of proprietary drivers + submit a lot code for open-source MESA drivers which yield great results:

    https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?pa...ega-10-Support
    https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?pa...pro-1830&num=4

    Not sure what is the purpose of these parallel open-/closed-source efforts but as long as I can decode in hardware majority of the stuff I throw at the laptop I'll be a happy user. I drowned in the sea of info regarding OpenCL, OpenGL, VAAPI, VDPAU, CUDA, and god knows what other sh*t you can use to decode video in hardware nowadays. The only thing I think I understood best option to decode one type of content can be completely different from the best option to decoder another type of content. Should I care as an average user about the selection criteria? Ideally no, but as we all know you always need to do some extra worthy effort to get things optimally working in Linux.

    I'm wondering whether I can get away without a discrete graphics card cause frankly I always had Nvidia in my laptops and besides frying my balls it served no purpose so far. I turned it off permanently on my old laptop (no 1080p/60 and 4K content back at the old days). I'd rather invest in more RAM than something I'd use to decode videos 10% of the time maybe. Besides that I use the Win 7 VM quite a lot and have 100+ tabs in 2 browsers so extra RAM never hurts.

    Please share your experience with the aforementioned hardware and software-related limitations.

  • #2
    There is only one open/closed source driver - the AMDGPU-PRO stack. We have normal releases of that ~6 times a year (along with an all-open packaged driver using the same kernel but with all open source userspace), and a few of those get additional testing & ISV certs for workstation CAD apps.

    Until recently we had no choice but to keep an open/closed hybrid alongside the upstream-based open source effort, since we needed the closed-source GL driver for workstation CAD apps because of its support for OpenGL compatibility profiles along with some app-specific optimizations.

    Now that compatibility profile support has been added to Mesa GL we may have an opportunity to replace the current closed source GL driver with Mesa - don't know yet.

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    • #3
      Thanks for providing the insight

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      • #4
        Yes, you can absolutely get away with the Intel iGPU for most of your day to day tasks. The iGPU supports H.265/HEVC Main10 profile at 10-bit color dept (https://www.notebookcheck.net/Intel-....187948.0.html). The IGPU can use up to 1.7GB of system ram (https://www.intel.com/content/www/us...s-drivers.html). I would recommend that you get at least 8GB of RAM.

        The AMD WX4170 is only available on the HP Zbook, I myself own a HP Zbook 15 G1 so my opinion is going to be biased, but I would recommend it wholeheartedly. The build quality is second to none, but they are a considerably more expensive option. ZBooks are designed for professional business applications, such as engineering, architecture, video editing etc.

        Both NVIDIA and AMD offer great drivers on GNU/Linux. I don't think you have the option to not have a dGPU on either Omen or Zbook laptops. Since you are not interested in gaming, go with the lowest graphics option (GTX1050). If you are adamant on having AMD graphics, you should switch to a different laptop manufacturer.

        The only time I used a Windows 7 VM was to run Cero 3 (CAD software) and this definitely requires the use of a dedicated GPU.

        I'm not sure about either AMD or NVIDIA GPUs being able to output 4KHDR, but both laptops do have HDMI 2.0 ports which should support video at both 4K HDR and 8K(Not HDR though).

        If you are not gaming, the high refresh rate monitors (144Hz, 120Hz) are of no use and I'm not sure how well variable refresh rate monitors are supported on GNU/Linux. 1080p on a 17inch screen has a nice pixel density, of course if you want 4k, then you need to go 4k.

        I have a HP Dreamcolor monitor, due its larger colour gamut coverage, my monitor appears to be more "red" than the other monitors that I own, and this is annoying, however its colour accuracy and reproduction is stunning and more than makes up for this. This monitor option is only available on the Zbook range.

        Hope this helps

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        • #5
          I get some useful ideas about the GPU. The information is really very interesting. If you need any details please visit https://babasupport.org/windows/fix-...xplorer-crash/.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by bridgman View Post
            There is only one open/closed source driver - the AMDGPU-PRO stack. We have normal releases of that ~6 times a year (along with an all-open packaged driver using the same kernel but with all open source userspace), and a few of those get additional testing & ISV certs for workstation CAD apps.

            Until recently we had no choice but to keep an open/closed hybrid alongside the upstream-based open source effort,
            diebestetest since we needed the closed-source GL driver for workstation CAD apps because of its support for OpenGL compatibility profiles along with some app-specific optimizations.

            Now that compatibility profile support has been added to Mesa GL we may have an opportunity to replace the current closed source GL driver with Mesa - don't know yet.
            Your content helped me a lot to take my doubts, thank you very much.

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            • #7
              The information is really very interesting and you explained in a nice way thanks for that. click here for more info about the mac in detail way.

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              • #8
                If you can get by with a Intel integrated GPU for your needs then that's, in my opinion, the better choice. My reasoning is in regards to battery, any dedicated GPU will cause (a lot) more power-draw and heat. Your preference will vary, I'd rather have about 8 hours of usable time (my current really weak notebook) than two (my old one). If you are mostly going to use it connected to power then a laptop with a AMD GPU is worth considering. Just know that if you're not going to play 3D games and just want to play 4k video and do desktop things then you really don't need a dedicated GPU, the Intel integrated is "good enough" for the basics. The fact that you want a 17" inch laptop hints that you will probably have it connected to power a lot of the time and if that's the case then battery life is obviously not as important.

                As for the screen, Hz and Nits doesn't say much. The "UHD 60Hz HP DreamColor 400 nits" is the only one which sounds like it's a IPS panel. The high-refresh-rate panels are probably TN panels. My humble opinion is that TN screens are, in general, horrible garbage with washed-out colours. IPS panels are preferable for everyone who's not a "professional gamer" wanting to play at 160 fps because "competitive edge".

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                • #9
                  Nice info explained in much better way...I was also in dilema of same issue..Thanks for giving insight to it..Cheers myschoolbucks

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                  • #10
                    I have a 17-inch display and the same computer specifications as yours. This is enough for me to engage in development calmly. The last thing I worked on was this technology stack for web applications. It was from such a computer that I did everything. Plus, you can play the latest video games on it and engage in 3D modeling.

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