Many of the buyers choosing a laptop are faced with the choice of a video card in it (immediately after choosing a processor). And often this choice is not easy. Especially if you are not good at computer hardware. Our material will help you to restore your gaps in knowledge and finally decide on the choice of laptop.
Discrete or Integrated?
The first step is to decide what type of embedded graphics do you need? Yes, you heard right, discrete graphics are also considered built-in, since they are not a separate adapter and the chip is built into the motherboard. You can read more about embedded graphics in our article. The only exceptions are notebooks with an MXM connector, in which the card can be changed, but this type of graphics is found only in rather expensive models.
So, discrete graphics is a separate chip on a motherboard with its own memory.
Shared memory graphics are integrated into the processor, share the same amount of RAM and are embedded in the processor chip.
Pros of integrated graphics:
- Low power consumption
- Is in every laptop (albeit weak)
- Handles most everyday tasks
- There are very productive specimens that can compete with weak average discrete
Cons of integrated graphics:
- Low performance for resource-intensive tasks (games, demanding editing)
- Uses RAM
Pros of discrete graphics:
- There are models of very different performance
- Expensive models are good at AAA games and video editing
- There is a separate, sometimes very fast video memory
Cons of discrete graphics:
- Its presence increases the price of the device
- Greater power consumption
It is also worth noting that in laptops, hybrid graphics are very common, when along with the discrete one is also integrated into the processor, and there is a quick switch between them depending on the tasks. Currently, all consumer processors have integrated graphics. And technology from AMD Dual Graphics allows you to harness the power of both cards.
Then it seems that the choice is obvious and you need to take discrete graphics. But wait, do you need it? This can cost a pretty penny and will never be used by you. It can also affect the compactness of the laptop. So, before buying, you should decide on your needs.
Here’s a comparison chart showing the difference in performance:
Which manufacturer should you choose?
It depends on what you chose in the previous case.
In the case of integrated graphics, the result depends on the choice of the processor itself and this material will already help here. To summarize: Intel for mid-range / high-end models, AMD for budget / super-budget notebooks, this material falls towards Intel mainly due to the presence of powerful models and high energy efficiency.
But here, too, everything is not so simple. Different models may have a different model of integrated graphics, it is advisable to refer to this article for a complete understanding, but in short, the formula is valid for processors of the same generation:
AMD has no such choice of insertion and here you can only look at the number after R and generation.
The lines of cards and their markings and generations are described in detail in these articles: about NVIDIA, about AMD.
You can retell it briefly. NVIDIA cards with the GTX designation (not to be confused with GT) are suitable for games. With each generation, GPUs become faster and for simplicity, the following formula was invented: new generation = old generation + 100. This means that GTX 950M ~ GTX 860M.
At AMD, things are simpler. For modern games, cards starting with the Radeon R9 M280X are suitable. Cards with 300 numbers are almost identical in terms of performance. So Radeon R9 M290X ~ Radeon R9 M390.
It’s also worth mentioning that in some cases there are versions with different types and sizes of memory, which can greatly affect performance. Therefore, in order to choose the right discrete graphics, we advise you to learn more about video memory. In short, choose memory with a higher bandwidth and sufficient volume for your needs (sometimes it is too much for a weak card and you will overpay).
By the way, new generations of video cards from AMD (Polaris) and NVIDIA (Pascal) with a new improved technical process are coming out pretty soon. This will give a noticeable increase in performance per unit of energy consumed, which in the case of laptops plays a big role due to the complexity of cooling. So, if there is an opportunity to wait a while, it would be better to take a laptop with a new generation of video cards, they will be much more powerful.
How can you compare performance more accurately?
To do this, I advise you to follow this rating with the results of many different tests, as well as this summary table.
I hope that our material was useful to you and really helped you to understand all the diversity and make your choice. You can write all your wishes and other comments in the comments, you are welcome.