Intel modesetting driver be the default driver for intel GPU Gen4 and newer (GMA 3000 from 2006 and newer)

I recommend Manjaro to use the Intel modesetting driver by default in the ISOs instead of the xf86-video-intel driver for PCs with intel GPU Gen4 and newer. The Arch Wiki recommends users to use this driver in this wiki: The modesetting driver performs better and graphics image quality is better than the xf86-video-intel and PC boots faster and less or no screen tearing with the modesetting driver. Popular Linux distributions use it by default like Fedora and KDE neon. Debian also recommends users to use the modesetting driver. Gaming is even better (graphics image quality and performance) and power saving with the modesetting driver.


Manjaro uses the xf86 intel driver because we also enable vulkan on intel GPU's on the ISO's.
The intel vulkan driver does not work with modesetting (at least it did not when I tried it about a year ago)


skylake + modesetting = :scream: (yes, it's really that bad)

even with heavy compositor options the tearing is horrendous. with my optimus laptop with skylake cpu i use modesetting with nvidia prime mode because PRIME synchronization gets rid of tearing and modesetting is faster for offloading.

but using modesetting with intel-only mode is unusable, not just games or videos either. opening menus? tearing. webpage scrolling? tears that resemble the grand canyon.

from what i understand post-skylake cpu's dont have this issue with modesetting but i never tested this first hand. :man_shrugging:

Interesting. I've never tried modesetting, because the intel driver works perfectly well here (KabyLake) out of the box (no tearing, no rendering or quality issues, super fast booting).

I'll put that on the TODO list :wink:

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I use an Kabylake (7th Gen core i series) optimus laptop (bumblebee preinstalled in Manjaro Linux by default for non-free drivers). With the xf86-video-intel, It worked well with Manjaro 18.0.4 (first installed Manjaro at this version in June 2019) before the last stable update when the graphics quality is a bit dull, also when Installing Manjaro 18.0.4 later than June 2019 and updating it either by using a graphical package manager or a terminal emulator like Konsole (KDE) the graphics quality becomes a bit dull and can be avoided by updating the driver via tty. The last stable update of the xf86-video-intel has quality and performance issues on my laptop. Tried the modesetting driver and the graphics quality and performance is better. When gaming with intel GPU, more heat is produced with the xf86-video-intel driver.

Do you know whether the presence of secondary graphics has any influence?
My KabyLake laptop only has Intel graphics.

I do not see that this article is recommending the modesetting driver. I understand the opposite.

The article says:

Note: Some (Debian & Ubuntu, Fedora, KDE) recommend not installing the xf86-video-intel driver, and instead falling back on the modesetting driver for Gen4 and newer GPUs (GMA 3000 from 2006 and newer). See [1], [2], Xorg#Installation, and modesetting(4). However, the modesetting driver can cause problems such as Chromium Issue 370022.

That does not sound like a recommendation for the modesetting driver.


comparing between a prime setup on optimus laptop using nvidia-to-intel with the intel drivers breaks prime sync and tearing is present even with the intel tearfree option set, whereas with nvidia-to-modesetting allows prime sync and all is well. if i disable prime sync with modesetting it's just as bad if not worse than using the modesetting driver alone with intel.

so both intel and modesetting have their strengths and weaknesses, but the intel driver works on all the intel gpu's without many issues and also allows for vulkan as @bs86 already mentioned

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Update to this post: I mainly tested the two drivers on qt based Desktop Environments that is KDE and Deepin. The latest xf86-video-intel driver (Late September 2019 update) is glitchy on KDE for example on the splash screen the text 'Plasma made by KDE' and the KDE logo at the bottom right of the screen was once covered by a rectangle full of coloured dots/grains and when the the KDE desktop has almost fully loaded the notifications that pop up too are sometimes covered with coloured grainy rectangles and sometimes the rectangle's colour is greish. Deepin with the xf86-video-intel also has glitches for example the screen is white for a second before loading the login screen and the dock glitches as the desktop has almost fully loaded. Tested Manjaro Gnome some months earlier with the xf86-video-intel, no glitching. Seems that the xf86-video-intel glitches with qt-based desktop environments only but worse in KDE. With the modesetting driver the qt-based DE's do not glitch. KDE may suffer quality issues after the driver is updated but the quality is the same in Deepen regardless of the driver used but performance is better with the modesetting driver. On KDE the fonts also render better with the modesetting driver. I recommend Manjaro to preinstall the modestting driver by default especially on KDE because almost all the xf86-video-driver issues that I had stated only occur on KDE but some on Deepin and gaming performance is the same on both. I have not tested with vulkan because bumblebee does not support the latest vulkan according to this wiki: and also has performance issues according to the wiki.

@mbod From the Arch Wiki (read it again after your post), I understand now the Arch Wiki contains the recommendation from other distributions and KDE not to use the xf86-video-intel but fall back on the modesetting driver for the GPU's listed and newer onces. KDE neon has no glitches, gaming on intel graphics is much sweeter on the modesetting driver on KDE. Arch partly follows the recommendation when installing the intel driver for the GPU's listed and newer when a user installs xorg-server package, it installs the xf86-video-vesa by default and does not glitch when loading the dock.

I've never seen that with my HD 4000 and have no intention of switching to the modesetting driver as the standard Intel driver performs perfectly well on my laptop with KDE. Maybe it's hardware generation or more likely specific to your notebook's non-reference design. Intel license a reference chipset and circuit board design for OEMs to use and with a hybrid laptop it will definitely have been modified from the reference design, especially with regards display output and power management. Each OEM take a different approach to this.

Please don't suggest a change that affects all users to fix a problem with a minority of installations. I could understand if loads of users were affected by this issue but so far you are the only one posting about it that I'm aware of at any rate.

Comparing GNOME that uses Wayland to Qt environments running X11 is not a fair comparison, you don't say what compositor setting you are using either with KDE which makes a difference to performance. Also, try Plasma with Wayland and see if you still get the glitches please.

I am only requesting this feature based on the recommendation of famous distributions like Debian (majority distros based on this directly or indirectly via Ubuntu or any other Debian based distro) and Fedora and even the KDE developers recommend the modesetting driver according to the arch wiki. Fedora (Wayland by default but installing the NVIDIA proprietary driver changes the display server to X11) and KDE neon use the modesetting driver by default (probably to avoid KDE issues with the xf86-video-intel). My HP laptop has the Intel HD 620 GPU. Some Intel GPUs old or new, either default Intel or customised by OEM have issues with either the xf86-video-intel or the modesetting driver, some GPUs have no issues with either and some issues may depend with the display manager and desktop environment. @dglt said that a Skylake GPU (original Intel default or customised by OEM not stated) has issues with modesetting driver. I see now that the best GPU driver depends on an Intel's GPU's configuration by Intel or OEM which may cause issues when either driver. Some other issues on optmus/hybrid laptops can be caused depending on whether the prime mode as @dglt stated with prime sync or bumblebee is used. In Windows the graphics driver for my laptop from the Intel website causes quality and performance issues while the driver from the HP drivers download page for the laptop performs better and has no quality issues except on some feature updates like the 1809. I guess this request is not possible since few intel GPUs especially some OEM custom ones have issues with the default driver and some GPUs including some new ones have issues with the modesetting. I hope Fedora and KDE neon users are okay with the modesetting driver which does not work with vulkan for now and maybe in the future.

Update: For Manjaro gnome also tested with both display servers with the default intel driver some months earlier, no issues or glitches on either and did not test a game to test the driver's performance

Sometimes David is right and Goliath is wrong though :wink:

Anyhow, whatever configuration works for an individual's machine is the right one and that is the joy of linux, the end user gets to decide. By the way, the fact that the HP driver works and the Intel one doesn't properly in Windows futher clarifies my point about OEM customisation being the reason you get differing results than others with your hardware when running Linux drivers too.

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HP's always have issues if you use anything other than the almighty HP dunderheads want you to use.

HP :gun:

If that was ever true, it's no longer the case.

You can find plenty of reasons why modesetting is a generally better experience with modern CPUs(last few years) at least on plenty of online resources. The link to a single bug with Chromium for modesetting is not there to cite the earlier sources advising the driver are wrong in doing so, just a warning of caution that both may have issues(really depends on hardware afaik).

BTW, I came across a neat history lesson about X11 and drivers, that also details about DDX and the generic KMS modesetting driver. Bit lengthy but nice read.

HD 4000? Is that SandyBridge from 2012? I don't think modesetting works well on hardware that old?

In saying that. xf86-video-intel is a DDX driver, it's for X11, so as time goes by, it becomes less relevant and likely sees less maintenance(if it gets much at all these days?) with the transition to Wayland(eventually), but more likely with modern CPUs(especially going forward), they're likely to better support modesetting driver than get supported by the older DDX?

With Ice Lake there is Gen11 graphics and the GPU gets another big iteration again with Gen12 graphics in upcoming Tiger Lake. We've had Gen9 since 2016(with late 2019 releasing Comet Lake products, last line pushing Gen9 graphics), so I'd imagine it's going to get worse.

Your response will end up being flipped at that point. Regardless, for now it shouldn't be much effort for a user to switch from xf86-video-intel manually, I have no problem in doing so, but can see that default changing(most distros afaik already have and default to modesetting).

I'll probably be running into this on a new laptop soon that comes with UHD620 graphics as well I guess(just intel graphics no dGPU).

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