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Nvidia Optimus laptops: Which are prime?

Nvidia's automatic-switching graphics technology has found its way into numerous laptops; we round up what we've seen so far and pick our favorites.

The Alienware M11x (Core i7, Optimus)
Alienware's newer M11x models are among the better examples of Nvidia Optimus at work. Sarah Tew/CNET

Over the last few months, we've seen quite a few Nvidia Optimus laptops. Optimus automatically switches between discrete and integrated graphics, powering the horsepower down when not used in order to save a little battery life. It's a similar idea to what's also included on the spring 2010 15-inch MacBook Pro, except Apple never created any branding for the concept.

And there's the rub: it's basically invisible tech, yet Nvidia has branded the concept for greater visibility. Really it amounts to something we'd obviously prefer to have in any laptop with dedicated graphics. Right now, only certain laptops have Optimus technology, although the number is growing daily.

Though Nvidia Optimus automatic switching does help conserve battery life, it doesn't guarantee great battery life scores. Still, among the numerous Nvidia Optimus laptops we've reviewed so far, we have found a few winners. The Alienware M11x with Core i7/Optimus earned 4 out of 5 stars, as did the Asus Eee PC 1215N. Both systems are ultraportables with 11.6- and 12-inch screens, where battery conservation for graphics makes a lot of sense. We also liked the Asus U33Jc-A1, one of the first Optimus laptops we reviewed, with its distinctive bamboo design and integrated Intel Wireless Display technology.

Check out our recap of Nvidia Optimus laptops thus far by clicking below, or look at some of the top models compared side by side.

We're tempted to add one more Transformers joke to button this post, but it simply isn't forthcoming.