A while back my work replaced my laptop with an HP EliteBook 850 G6 with Windows 10 1909 (18363.1316) and Intel UHD 620 graphics. Immediately I noticed that my eyes were struggling to focus and I started getting severe strain and headaches, even using external monitors that I've been otherwise comfortably using for years.
I began researching and seeking solutions (this is when I found ledstrain, Thanks! 😄) and somewhere stumbled on external graphics or eGFX or eGPU. I found that my laptop did indeed have a Thunderbolt port and so I ordered this egfx chassis: https://www.sonnettech.com/product/egfx-breakaway-box/overview.html
I threw a GeForce GT610 card into it and hooked it up to my laptop. I've now been working on this setup for a week and a half and I'm happy to report that much (not all) of my eyestrain and headaches are gone.
After installing the card, my fisrt attempt at installing drivers was with version 353.62, but I couldn't get them to install. I made a second attempt with Nvidia drivers version 391.35 and they installed right away.
I don't consider this machine completely solved by a longshot, but this experience I think provides two very key takeaways for all of us:
1. eGFX opens up (most of) the world of desktop graphics cards for us to use with laptops.
If you have a Thunderbolt port on your laptop, you can plug in an eGFX chassis and make use of desktop graphics cards on your laptop. This particular one that I am using has a list of compatible cards. For Nvidia cards, it only goes back as far as the 1000 series. BUT, their main concern when discussing compatibility seems to be power consumption, so I assumed older cards would work as well as they tend to draw less power than newer cards. Sure enough, my GT610 works in it just fine. I assume that most, if not all, of the 600 series Nvidia cards will work in it. I plan to try more.
2. I BELIEVE that I am completely bypassing the onboard Intel integrated graphics on this laptop now.
I have the chassis connected to my laptop via Thunderbolt and then my external monitors connected directly to the GT610 card. Right away I noticed that the color feels more "flat" like many have described on this site. It still weirds out my eyes a little and I find that the focusing issue still seems to be there, but largely (not completely) without the pain I was experiencing previously. I think that Win10 and Intel620 together introduced a number of different things that bug my eyes and routing through this external card resolved some of them, but the ones coming from Windows are still there.
The next steps I have planned for this machine are:
- Confirm with more confidence that I am completely bypassing the onboard Intel integrated graphics
- Update to Win10 2004/20H2 in hopes that it becomes even more comfortable. If that doesn't work, I plan to roll it all the way back to 2015 LTSB.
- Try different versions of Nvidia drivers. Currently I have version 391.35.
- Try different cards in it. I do notice that my window animations are a bit choppy with the GT610, I'm hoping that's easily solved with a beefier card like a GTX650. This isn't really that important to me, I only vaguely notice that it happens but it doesn't bother me at all. It would on my own computer, but not on one that work provides me just for work. If this proves unsolvable I'll consider it a small price to pay for more comfortable viewing.
One thing I would love input from this community on: Are there versions of Nvidia drivers that you are finding more comfortable than others?