Help Me Choose: Video Cards

Whether you’re watching DVDs, surfing the web or playing games on your laptop, the quality of your experience is directly attributable to the characteristics of your video card. Along with the computer display itself, the video card determines image clarity, color brilliance and accuracy of motion that you experience on-screen.
There are three different types of graphics solutions for your system:
1. Integrated graphics (UMA)
2. Standard on-processor graphics
3. Optional discrete graphics cards (Discrete GPUs)
Historically, many laptops were designed with the graphics processor built in to the system motherboard. Integrated graphics products (UMA) allow a computer to be built without a separate graphics card, which can reduce cost, power consumption and noise. These integrated cards are found on entry-level laptops that do not need high levels of graphics capability. Integrated graphics share system memory for storage, which can impact the system performance when multitasking or during video-intensive activities such as gaming or watching high-definition (HD) videos.

On-processor graphics are integrated into the central processing unit (CPU) of all of 4th and 5th Generation Intel® Core™ processors accelerated processing units (APUs).These CPU and graphics technologies are smart choices for everyday computing and casual gaming since the 4th and 5th Gen Intel on-processor graphics also include support for Microsoft’s DirectX® 11 standard.

But if you play high-demand video games, watch HD movies or use video-intensive applications on your laptop, you might need something a bit more powerful. Discrete graphics processing units (GPUs) are separate from the motherboard and feature dedicated memory of their own, measured in gigabytes (GB). These GPUs greatly accelerate graphics performance so you get less pixilation and more lifelike graphics.
You don't have to choose between on-processor battery life and discrete graphics performance anymore. Most of the newest AMD and NVIDIA® discrete graphics card options support switchable graphics with either NVIDIA’s Optimus™ technology or AMD’s Enduro™ technology designed to save your battery from unnecessary drain, enabling you to work or play longer on a single battery charge.

Whether it’s NVIDIA’s Optimus technology or AMD’s Enduro technology, this intelligent graphics feature automatically switches to high-performance graphics processing unit (GPU) when running graphically intensive applications. The laptop dynamically switches from the discrete GPU to the on-processor graphics solution for less demanding applications, thus reducing your laptop’s graphics power usage, which can help extend battery life.
Intel® HD Graphics (std on Intel® Celeron® and Pentium®)Intel® HD Graphics 4400Intel® HD Graphics 5500Intel® Iris™ Graphics 5100NVIDIA® GeForce® 820MNVIDIA® GeForce® 840MNVIDIA® GeForce® 845M
Systems SupportedInspiron 14 3000 Series (Intel®),
Inspiron 15 3000 Series (Intel®), Inspiron 17 5000 Series (Intel®)
Inspiron 13 7000 Series 2-in-1, Inspiron 15 7000 Series Laptop, Inspiron 17 7000 SeriesInspiron 15 3000 Series (Intel®), Inspiron 15 5000 Series (Intel®), Inspiron 17 5000 Series (Intel®), Inspiron 13 7000 Series 2-in-1, Inspiron 17 7000 SeriesInspiron 15 7000 Series Laptop, Inspiron 17 7000 SeriesInspiron 15 3000 Series (Intel®), Inspiron 17 5000 Series (Intel®)Inspiron 15 3000 Series (Intel®), Inspiron 17 5000 Series (Intel®)Inspiron 17 7000 Series
Graphics TypeOn-processorOn-processorOn-processorOn-processorDiscrete, switchableDiscrete, switchableDiscrete, switchable
MemoryUp to 1.67GB dynamically allocatedUp to 1.7GB dynamically allocatedUp to 1.7GB dynamically allocatedUp to 1.7GB dynamically allocated1 or 2GB2GB2GB
Direct X Version10DX11.1     
Dual-Display Supportyesyesyesyesyesyesyes
AvailabilityStandard w/Celeron® and Pentium®4th Gen CPUs5th Gen CPUs5th Gen CPUsUpsell from baseUpsell from baseUpsell from base