MSI GS66 11UX

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Reason: This wiki page is incomplete and Work-In-Progress. (Discuss in Talk:MSI GS66 11UX)
Hardware PCI/USB ID Working?
Touchpad Yes
Keyboard Yes
Display Partial
GPU (Intel) Yes
GPU (Nvidia) Yes
Webcam Yes
Ethernet Yes
Bluetooth Unknown
Thunderbolt Unknown
Audio Partial
Wireless Yes

MSI has released refreshed GS66 laptops with 11th Intel processors and Nvidia Ampere graphics. Exact models are 11UH, 11UG and 11UE. Note that these models should not be confused with 10UX models as they are reported to work out of the box with Linux.

For a general overview of laptop-related articles and recommendations, see Laptop.

Preparation

Useful shortcuts:

  • Pressing INSERT during startup will open BIOS.
  • Pressing F11 during startup will open boot menu.
  • Pressing LEFT ALT + RIGHT CTRL + RIGHT SHIFT + F2 while in BIOS will show advanced settings.
Warning: It is possible to completely break the laptop if you do not know what you are doing with BIOS advanced settings. For example, you would not be able to use any screen (integrated or HDMI) if you disable internal graphics, including the BIOS screen. In such case, one might attempt to reset BIOS by powering off the laptop, then holding power button for several minutes (laptop will turn on and then turn off).

Installation

Before installing Arch Linux, several steps need to be done in BIOS:

  • Secure Boot must be disabled in BIOS > Security > Secure Boot.

During Arch Linux installation, the following steps needs to be taken to ensure working system:

Kernel versions >= 5.13.0 and < 5.15.0

This range of kernel versions suffer from a bug that renders the NVME drive inaccessible due to over-aggressive power management. Arch ISO version 2021.11.01 uses kernel 5.14.15, and so is affected by this bug.

To mitigate this bug, it is possible to configure the NVME device to operate behind an Intel Volume Management Device (Intel VMD), by performing the following actions:

  • In the system BIOS, enable VMD controller under BIOS > Advanced
  • During installation, add vmd to MODULES list in /etc/mkinitcpio.conf, otherwise Linux will not be able to detect the internal NVME SSD during boot.
Warning: Performing the above BIOS modification may adversely affect your ability to boot other existing operating systems.

Alternatively, using an Arch ISO with a more recent kernel version will avoid the requirement for this workaround entirely.

Tips and tricks

Keyboard RGB control

See msi-perkeyrgbAUR. Use gs65 model which works fine with GS66 11UX models.

Known issues

Locked 60Hz refresh rate

Laptops with refresh rates higher than 60Hz could not be set above 60Hz on integrated displays. Changing to higher resolution has not effect and display is still locked to 60Hz. See bug report.

Some success has been achieved:

  • Use Nvidia GPU as primary GPU (source).
  • Edit integrated display's EDID information and override timings of preferred mode (source).
  • Ubuntu live image with safe graphics mode shows more than 60Hz.

Graphics mode switch (mux switch)

Note: This should not be confused with Hybrid graphics which works fine. For more information about mux switch, see here.

MSI only provides Windows-only application to switch between Hybrid graphics (Intel + Nvidia) and discrete graphics (Nvidia) mode. Basically it sets some sort of a flag (assumably in EC register) and performs reboot. During the reboot, it seem to temporarily boot into BIOS, change the graphics mode and reboot back to Windows.

There is no method to change graphics (using mux switch) using Linux and such switch option is greyed out in BIOS. Some reverse engineering has been done (see here and here), but there was no success for this specific model.

Audio clipping

The audio device exhibits issues under Linux, whereby audio may be lost at the start or end of playback. During continuous playback, the device behaves as expected.

This occurs using ALSA directly, meaning it is independent of software mixers like Pulseaudio or Pipewire, and also occurs in legacy mode, using driver options snd-intel-dspcfg dsp_driver=1, and with power management disabled. It is unknown what is required to make the device operate optimally under Linux.