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 2nd and 3rd Generation Intel® Core™ processors and AMD™ accelerated processing units (APUs).These CPU and graphics technologies are smart choices for everyday computing and casual gaming since the AMD and 3rd 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.
With the new Inspiron and Inspiron Special Edition laptop, 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 3000
(std on 2nd Gen Intel® Core™ i3 and above)
Intel® HD Graphics 4000Intel® HD Graphics 4200/4400 NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 630MNVIDIA® GeForce®
 GT 640M
AMD Radeon™ HD 7730M*AMD Radeon HD 7670M*AMD Radeon™ HD 8730M*AMD Radeon™ HD 8210*NVIDIA® GeForce®
 GT 650M
NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 750M
Systems SupportedInspiron 14R-5420
Inspiron 15R-5520
Inspiron 17R-5720
Inspiron 13z-5323
Inspiron 14R
Inspiron 15R
Inspiron 17R
Inspiron 14z
Inspiron 14R-5420
Inspiron 15R-5520
Inspiron 17R-5720
Inspiron 13z-5323
Inspiron 14z-5423
Inspiron 15z

Inspiron 14R-5420 (opt)

Inspiron 17R-5720 (opt)
Inspiron 15z(opt)
Inspiron 14R Special Edition (7420) (std)Inspiron 15R Special Edition (7520) (std)Inspiron 15R-5520 (opt)Inspiron 15-3521, 17-3721 and Inspiron 15R-5521, 17R-5721 (optional)Inspiron 3000 SeriesInspiron 17R Special Edition (7420)Inspiron
Graphics TypeUMAOn-processorIntegratedIntegrated Discrete, switchableDiscrete, switchable Discrete, switchableDiscrete, switchable Discrete, switchableOn-processor Discrete, switchableDiscrete, switchable 
MemoryUp to 1.67GB dynamically allocatedUp to 1.6GB dynamically allocated

Up to 1.7GB dynamically allocated

Up to 1.7GB dynamically allocated2GB Dedicated2GB Dedicated 2GB Dedicated 1GB Dedicated2GB Dedicated Shared 2GB Dedicated 2GB
Memory Type DDR3DDR3DDR3DDR3 DDR3 for the 14R,
GDDR5 for the 17R
DDR3 for the 15z
DirectX Version 10.010.1DX11DX11.1 DX11DX11DX11DX11DX11DX11.1 DX11DX11
Dual-Display Support -yes yesyesyesyes yesyesyes yes yesyes 
AvailabilityStandard w/Celeron® and Pentium® Standard on 2nd Gen Intel® Core™ i5 and aboveStandard on 3rd Gen Intel® Core™ i5 and above 4th Gen CPUsOptionalStandardStandardOptionalStandardStandardStandard Standard