Linux gaming on a laptop

Lately Linux gaming has really taken off, spurred on by developments in Wine and Proton. And I’ve been enjoying the fruits of that labor on my desktop. But my laptop, that’s another story.

I have a gaming laptop that until lately was dual boot between Windows and Fedora 35. Like many such laptops it featured an Nvidia GPU and the craptastic clusterf**k that is Optimus. Gaming, or even just using Fedora on this thing was an exercise in frustration. With some settings/display managers/desktop environments, the internal display will not work, but the external won’t. Or vice versa. Or neither at all.

And once you’ve got a working desktop then you have to futz with arcane environment variables in your game launcher. And sometimes they work as expected, sometimes work oddly, or again not at all.

Is there a better solution? Does AMD offer a more Linux friendly solution? Do other distros handle the f**kery that is Optimus better than Fedora?

P.S. No I don’t want a Steam Deck. I’m a keyboard and mouse dude, and HATE controllers. Nor do I want to play on a postage stamp sized screen.

1 Like

Check out Ubuntu Mate (on a USB stick at least). Last I heard one of the popular Linux dev/podcaster/personality (forgot who, British guy) did an update there that dealt with this specifically.

1 Like

You could always use a VFIO VM and Looking Glass if your laptop is muxless.

I do this on my Laptop which has a Intel iGPU and a NVidia dGPU. The VM gets the dGPU for it’s usage with zero issues and incredible performance. When I am not using the VM I just use bbswitch to disable the dGPU increasing my battery life from 6 hours to ~20 hours.


I’ve had really good luck with Pop!_OS on both AMD and Nvidia systems. Laptops, desktops, multiple displays, and mixed resolutions. It just works. They have a version with Nvidia drivers baked in.

1 Like

Manjaro was promising but I had some issues with WaylandX. I did switch over to Elementary OS as my daily driver and it seems to work well with intel iGPU. I would love to get my hands on an AMD laptop one of these days. 6800S seems promising, but I’ll have to wait for more user adoption to come out. Proton seems to work great on older titles. As far as casual gaming I say Linux is way better than what it used to be.

I’d say anything that is Ubuntu-based (Mint, MX, Etc) should be a good option, but arch packages seem to have the bleeding edge when it comes to firmware and drivers. For my HP I was able to find better driver support for things like the fingerprint scanner, and other non-standard input devices.

1 Like

Not Intel laptop fan. But I have to recommend them over AMD laptops. The AMD igpu and nvidia dgpu setups have too much model specific nuances for getting igpu/dgpu mode switching to work properly. At least not without extensive troubleshooting.

1 Like

What about AMD CPU + GPU combos? I know AMD GPUs aren’t tops in popularity, but it’s rare for me to have an issue in Linux with them.

1 Like

YMMV, Optimus is pretty much exclusive to intel igpu nvidia dgpu combos correct?

Intel igpus are made to be ignored, run in low power, and have something else shoved in thier video memory.

Based on market share alone amd cpu amd gpu laptops are rare. It’s pretty much niche in niche. Therefore less support from community.

That said I loved the performance of my amd 4900hs G-14 but getting renior (amd) to release it’s framebuffer, or getting the nvidida dgpu to stay powered down wasted a few weekends.

Don’t want to necro this post but after playing with the steam deck I really want to give all amd laptop builds a go with arch. I was pleasantly surprised how solid the gaming experience was on steam OS. I hope that this is the year I can ditch windows all together and just stick to using linux.

1 Like