Help me choose: Video card

 

Growing importance of selecting the right video card

Pretty much everything you do on your laptop from using the Windows Vista operating system — making presentations, designing spreadsheets, browsing the internet, editing photos and watching movies is becoming increasingly visually intensive. And with proliferation of more small businesses using video to communicate through videoconferencing and video email, such as Dell Video Chat, selecting the right graphics card is becoming more important to your overall mobile experience.

The quality of the graphics you experience is only as good as your video card (also known as a graphics card). Selecting the right graphics solution can make these visually intensive tasks come alive and enable a rich, lifelike and more pleasing experience. Along with the display, the video card affects the number of colors available, contrast, resolution and overall performance of your system.

What is the difference between integrated and discrete graphics?

Integrated Graphics: An integrated graphics solution shares the system processor (CPU) and memory resources with other programs. While integrated video cards can process some complex graphics such as 3D images, if the CPU and memory are overloaded or busy processing other information, it can sometimes deliver a less-than-optimal video experience, slowing down the graphics and potentially the overall system.

An integrated graphics solution may be adequate for you if you use your notebook for common business tasks that do not require graphic-intensive applications such as word processing, spreadsheets, basic presentations, email and browsing most internet sites.

Discrete Graphics: Discrete graphics utilize a graphics processor that is separate (or discrete) from the system processor and a memory unit that is separate from system memory. Because this solution does not burden the CPU and system memory, overall performance is likely to be significantly better when performing tasks that require complex graphics or visually intensive applications.

Typically, discrete solutions are more powerful than integrated solutions and are the preferred type of solution if you use your notebook for visually demanding tasks such as videoconferencing, creating and delivering video/graphics heavy presentations, viewing, creating and editing videos/photos and browsing visually intensive websites.

 

 

The video card you choose can have a huge impact on the quality of picture, color and motion that you see on the screen. Be sure to choose a video card that's good enough to meet your needs today as well as your future plans.

The system you are configuring may or may not include all of the options listed here.

If you want...Choose...
To tackle complex graphics and visually intensive applications. A discrete video card can handle all the tasks an integrated video card can handle, plus:
  • Videoconferencing
  • Graphic design
  • High-definition video/movies/audio
  • Photo/video editing
Discrete graphics
An entry-level solution for typical office productivity applications, internet use, relatively small digital images, low-resolution video and other relatively undemanding applications. Integrated video cards are generally acceptable for:
  • Word processing
  • Managing finances
  • Instant messaging
  • Presentations without a lot of graphics or videos
  • Spreadsheets
Integrated graphics

 Intel HD Graphics 3000*
(std on 2nd Gen Intel® Core™ i3 and above)
 
Intel HD Graphics 4000* std on 3rd Gen Intel® Core™ i5 and above)  AMD Radeon™ HD 7670M NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 630M NVIDIA GeForce GT 620M 1GB DDR3
Graphics type  On-processorOn-processor  Discrete, switchableDiscrete, switchable  Discrete, switchable
Memory Up to 1.6GB dynamically allocated  

Up to 1.7GB dynamically allocated

1GB Dedicated  1GB Dedicated 1024MB
 Memory type DDR3 DDR3 GDDR5DDR3 DDR3 
 Direct X version 10.1 DX11 DX11DX11  DirectX 11
OpenGL 4.1
 Availability Standard on 2nd Gen Intel Core i5 and above Standard on 3rd Gen Intel Core i5 and aboveOptional Optional Optional