Optimus is on by default in the BIOS because Windows 7 uses it. Optimus allows windows and linux to run Nvidia accelerated 3D applications in a window within the Intel 2D generated screen space. I got Optimus running under linux but it was flaky and didn't work with the windows 7 VM I run.
There is a feature of the linux kernel called vga_switcheroo which is supposed to allow the user to switch from the integrated video to the add on video, but that apparently doesn't work with the bleeding edge hardware installed in this dell. I'm sure they'll get it fixed, but that wouldn't have helped me because I don't want to run the Nouveau open source driver, I want the nvidia closed source driver so I can get fast 3D.
It ended up changing the BIOS gives me everything I want because it completely shuts down the intel video chipset and lets me use the nvidia chipset in X. I imagine battery life will be worse, but since its plugged in most of the time, it won't matter to me.
Bravo, well done sir.
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