Skip to main content

What is a MUX switch?

Gaming laptops are way more advanced than they used to be a few years ago. One of the many new features that you can see on some of the best gaming laptops is the MUX switch, a feature that can be used to boost graphics performance. But how does it really work, and should you spend extra money just for this feature? Here is everything you need to know.

What is a MUX switch?

Short for Multiplexer, a MUX switch gives users the choice to optimize their gaming laptops to either prioritize battery life or pure performance while playing games. Essentially, it is used to disable the laptop’s integrated GPU manually and disable any optimization solutions. It works by connecting the dedicated graphics card directly to the screen. This means that the laptop needs to have hardware support for this feature and it is not something that can be done via software alone. Since the MUX switch is soldered onto the motherboard itself, it cannot be installed by the end-user either.

Most gaming laptops have a pair of GPUs, an integrated GPU (iGPU), and a discrete GPU (dGPU). An iGPU is a part of the processor, meaning that Intel and AMD both offer their own integrated graphics solution. On the other hand, a discrete GPU is the beefier graphics chip on your laptop, like the Nvidia RTX 3070 or AMD Radeon RX 6700s, that is required to drive high-end games.

Get your weekly teardown of the tech behind PC gaming
Check your inbox!

The integrated GPU isn’t as powerful and consumes less power. The iGPU is, thus, good for common tasks like watching videos, browsing the internet, writing a document, and so on. Discrete GPUs, however, require a lot of power to deliver raw graphics performance when compared to integrated GPUs. This is one of the biggest reasons why gaming laptops do not offer long battery life. To address this issue, manufacturers came up with battery optimization solutions such as Nvidia Optimus and AMD Switchable Graphics.

Diagram showing how Nvidia Optimus works.
Image credit: Nvidia Nvidia

A laptop that has Optimus will automatically conserve the battery by switching it to integrated graphics when you do not require a lot of graphics power. As soon as you open a GPU-intensive workload, say a game, it recognizes the requirement and switches back to the dGPU. It sounds convenient and is even claimed to offer an increased performance of up to 30%, but there is a flaw. While the game processing happens on the dGPU, the signal is first sent to the iGPU before it reaches the display, thus sometimes creating a bottleneck. This is where the MUX switch comes in.

How do I know if my laptop has a MUX switch?

This can be tricky as laptop manufacturers are not very particular when it comes to marketing the inclusion of a MUX switch on their products. The best way is to head to the product page on the manufacturer’s website and dig through the specifications sheet. Alternatively, you can also check the system-tuning software that your laptop shipped with to see whether the system has a MUX switch or not.

If you don’t have a MUX switch on your laptop, you can still boost gaming performance by overclocking your GPU or connecting an external gaming monitor to your laptop. You do need to ensure that the display output is connected directly to the discrete graphics instead of the Intel or AMD integrated GPU, though.

How to enable or disable a MUX switch?

The MUX switch can be enabled or disabled using the custom system tuning software that your gaming laptop ships with, after which a system restart is mandatory. It is usually a toggle called GPU switch, Hybrid graphics, or Nvidia Optimus. Certain laptops might require you to head into the BIOS and then enable or disable the MUX switch.

How to toggle the MUX Switch in Armoury Crate.
Image credits: ASUS Image used with permission by copyright holder

Do I need a gaming laptop with a MUX switch?

Having a MUX switch definitely gives you an advantage as it allows you to get the highest performance from the discrete GPU on your gaming laptop. It is also suited for someone who plans to use the laptop always connected to the power supply. Most leading gaming laptop manufacturers including ASUS, Acer, Dell, Gigabyte, HP, MSI, Lenovo, and Razer are now implementing the MUX switch, and they don’t cost a lot more than ones that don’t. However, if you are planning to buy a new laptop, we suggest that you do a bit of research as the feature is mostly seen on only a few midrange and premium gaming notebooks. If you already own a gaming laptop that does not have a MUX switch, we do not recommend investing money in a new one just for that feature alone.

If you do want to buy a new gaming laptop, though, here are the best gaming laptops you can buy in 2022.

Editors' Recommendations

Kunal Khullar
Kunal is a Computing writer contributing content around PC hardware, laptops, monitors, and more for Digital Trends. Having…
RTX 4090 owners are in for some bad news
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 GPU.

Nvidia's RTX 4090 remains the undisputed most powerful GPU on the market right now, despite being a year-and-a-half old. As such, you might think that reselling it later should be a breeze, not to mention that it should net you a nice amount of money -- but that is not always the case.

Wccftech reports that one owner of an MSI RTX 4090 tried to use the Micro Center GPU Trade-In Program to get some money back, and the GPU was valued at just $700 -- a mere 36% of the total cost of the graphics card.

Read more
Intel may fire the first shots in the next-gen GPU war
Intel Arc A770 GPU installed in a test bench.

The GPU market is about to start heating up in just a few short months, and that's not just due to AMD and Nvidia. According to a new report, Intel plans to release its highly anticipated, next-gen Arc Battlemage graphics cards sooner than many have expected, and the GPUs might drop at just the perfect time to steal some sales away from AMD and Nvidia.

The tantalizing news comes from a report by ComputerBase. The publication claims that during Embedded World 2024, an event that took place in Germany, Intel's partners implied that Arc Battlemage GPUs might launch before this year's Black Friday. Realistically, this implies that Intel would have to hit the market in early November at the latest, giving its partners and retailers enough time to make the products readily available during the Black Friday shopping craze.

Read more
Nvidia RTX 50-series graphics cards: news, release date, price, and more
RTX 4070 seen from the side.

Nvidia already makes some of the best graphics cards, but it's also not resting on its laurels. Although the RTX 40-series, which has been bolstered by a refresh, is still very recent, Nvidia is also working on its next-gen GPUs from the RTX 50-series.

The release date of RTX 50-series GPUs is still at least a few months away, but various rumors and leaks give us a better idea of what to expect. Here's everything we know about Nvidia's upcoming generation of graphics cards.
RTX 50-series: pricing and release date

Read more