Screen fading, then snapping back to normal brightness

Hello all,

Yet another newbie here with display issues! Recently installed Manjaro KDE on my computer (which is a very slick desktop) and I'm having trouble with a few things.

The most consistent, and annoying, issue at the moment is my screen keeps fading to grey (similar to the Windows "non-responding" thing except the whole screen) at random intervals and then snaps back to full brightness, either by itself or when I move the mouse. I am assuming it is an issue with the graphics since it occurs at seemingly random times and when the computer is not really doing anything in particular. I've searched the interwebs at length but no one seems to be having this particular issue.

Speaking of graphics, I have an Alienware 17 R3 laptop with Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M and Intel HD Graphics 530 graphics cards. My computer has "Nvidia Optimus" (whatever the frack that means, seems to be important) and I auto-installed the proprietary drivers.

output of mhwd -li -d:

NAME:        video-hybrid-intel-nvidia-440xx-prime
   ATTACHED:    PCI
   VERSION:     2019.10.25
   INFO:        Hybrid prime solution for NVIDIA Optimus Technology - Closed source NVIDIA driver & open source intel driver.
   PRIORITY:    21
   FREEDRIVER:  false
   DEPENDS:     -
   CONFLICTS:   video-hybrid-intel-nvidia-340xx-bumblebee video-hybrid-intel-nvidia-390xx-bumblebee video-hybrid-intel-nvidia-418xx-bumblebee video-hybrid-intel-nvidia-430xx-bumblebee video-hybrid-intel-nvidia-435xx-prime video-nvidia-340xx video-nvidia-390xx video-nvidia-418xx video-nvidia-430xx video-nvidia-435xx video-nvidia-440xx 
   CLASSIDS:    0300 0302 0300 
   VENDORIDS:   10de 8086 

output of inxi -Fxz:

System:    Host: trex-pc Kernel: 5.4.15-2-MANJARO x86_64 bits: 64 compiler: gcc v: 9.2.0 Desktop: KDE Plasma 5.17.5 
           Distro: Manjaro Linux 
Machine:   Type: Laptop System: Alienware product: Alienware 17 R3 v: 1.8.0 serial: <filter> 
           Mobo: Alienware model: 0WJ10R v: A00 serial: <filter> UEFI [Legacy]: Alienware v: 1.8.0 date: 05/30/2019 
Battery:   ID-1: BAT1 charge: 65.3 Wh condition: 65.3/96.0 Wh (68%) model: COMPAL PABAS0241231 status: Full 
           Device-1: hidpp_battery_0 model: Logitech Performance MX charge: 70% (should be ignored) status: Discharging 
CPU:       Topology: Quad Core model: Intel Core i7-6700HQ bits: 64 type: MT MCP arch: Skylake-S rev: 3 L2 cache: 6144 KiB 
           flags: avx avx2 lm nx pae sse sse2 sse3 sse4_1 sse4_2 ssse3 vmx bogomips: 41621 
           Speed: 855 MHz min/max: 800/3500 MHz Core speeds (MHz): 1: 859 2: 840 3: 809 4: 866 5: 880 6: 807 7: 891 8: 835 
Graphics:  Device-1: Intel HD Graphics 530 vendor: Dell driver: i915 v: kernel bus ID: 00:02.0 
           Device-2: NVIDIA GM204M [GeForce GTX 980M] vendor: Dell driver: nvidia v: 440.44 bus ID: 01:00.0 
           Display: x11 server: X.Org 1.20.7 driver: modesetting,nvidia resolution: 3840x2160~60Hz 
           OpenGL: renderer: Mesa DRI Intel HD Graphics 530 (Skylake GT2) v: 4.6 Mesa 19.3.2 direct render: Yes 
Audio:     Device-1: Intel 100 Series/C230 Series Family HD Audio vendor: Dell driver: snd_hda_intel v: kernel bus ID: 00:1f.3 
           Sound Server: ALSA v: k5.4.15-2-MANJARO 
Network:   Device-1: Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2400 Gigabit Ethernet driver: alx v: kernel port: d000 bus ID: 3b:00.0 
           IF: enp59s0 state: down mac: <filter> 
           Device-2: Qualcomm Atheros QCA6174 802.11ac Wireless Network Adapter vendor: Bigfoot Networks driver: ath10k_pci 
           v: kernel port: d000 bus ID: 3c:00.0 
           IF: wlp60s0 state: up mac: <filter> 
           Device-3: Qualcomm Atheros type: USB driver: btusb bus ID: 1-5:6 
Drives:    Local Storage: total: 8.42 TiB used: 25.20 GiB (0.3%) 
           ID-1: /dev/nvme0n1 vendor: Samsung model: PM951 NVMe 256GB size: 238.47 GiB 
           ID-2: /dev/sda vendor: HGST (Hitachi) model: HTS721010A9E630 size: 931.51 GiB 
           ID-3: /dev/sdb type: USB vendor: Seagate model: Expansion Desk size: 7.28 TiB 
RAID:      Hardware-1: Intel 82801 Mobile SATA Controller [RAID mode] driver: ahci v: 3.0 bus ID: 00:17.0 
Partition: ID-1: / size: 233.73 GiB used: 25.20 GiB (10.8%) fs: ext4 dev: /dev/nvme0n1p1 
Sensors:   System Temperatures: cpu: 53.5 C mobo: N/A 
           Fan Speeds (RPM): N/A 
Info:      Processes: 243 Uptime: 49m Memory: 15.51 GiB used: 2.04 GiB (13.2%) Init: systemd Compilers: gcc: 9.2.0 
           clang: 9.0.1 Shell: bash v: 5.0.11 inxi: 3.0.37

output of nvidia-smi:

+-----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| NVIDIA-SMI 440.44       Driver Version: 440.44       CUDA Version: 10.2     |
|-------------------------------+----------------------+----------------------+
| GPU  Name        Persistence-M| Bus-Id        Disp.A | Volatile Uncorr. ECC |
| Fan  Temp  Perf  Pwr:Usage/Cap|         Memory-Usage | GPU-Util  Compute M. |
|===============================+======================+======================|
|   0  GeForce GTX 980M    Off  | 00000000:01:00.0 Off |                  N/A |
| N/A   51C    P8     7W /  N/A |     38MiB /  4043MiB |      0%      Default |
+-------------------------------+----------------------+----------------------+
                                                                               
+-----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| Processes:                                                       GPU Memory |
|  GPU       PID   Type   Process name                             Usage      |
|=============================================================================|
|    0      1072      G   /usr/lib/Xorg                                 35MiB |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------------------+

Another thing...during my research I've heard tell of something called an "xorg.conf" file that resides at /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d, and seems to be important for this kind of thing. I don't have it. Just a keyboard conf file. Maybe that's part of the problem?

If anybody can shine some light on this issue I would be most appreciative!

It's a power saving feature, of sorts, the idea being that your PC will use the Nvidia GPU for intensive tasks such as gaming and the IGPU for lighter desktop usage. Your drivers look fine.

It isn't there until you generate it manually. You usually only need to edit it for things like enabling overclocking and occasional troubleshooting steps.

None what so ever. Fading to grey is indeed what KDE does when an app isn't responding. If the entire display is doing this it could be a problem with your display manager, but that's only a guess.

Before anything else I'd suggest trying a different kernel to see if that helps, 5.4 is well wonky atm and known for causing display issues on some setups. Try switching to 4.19 and report back if it's still playing up.

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Well what do you know, that cleared it right up! Now my mouse scroll is jerky and second monitor doesn't work, but I am content for now with my non-fading screen :relieved:

Thanks so much 10yearslate! I am in your debt :pray:

You're welcome.

Multi monitor issues may be a kink with your graphics driver. With Nvidia/Intel hybrid setups you have a few options and some work better for some than others depending on the specific hardware combination. You may want to look into Optimus Manager and Optimus Switch as potential alternatives to your current driver setup.

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