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Should I go for a graphics card with my new system?

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October 23, 2013 2:23:15 PM

Hi there,

I'm looking to finally upgrade to a new laptop, and I have the Sony Vaio Flip 15 in mind. I am a casual/semi-pro video editor, by which I mean I work on HD clips shot from a Handycam or DSLR, for short films, music videos, promos etc, as well as the odd tutorial/screencast video; and I use Sony Vegas (so no After Effects to worry about). Not doing some major Hollywood-style hardcore editing here, but still more than your average Windows Movie Maker user.

I'd appreciate some help on whether I should go for a graphic card on my system or not. I have the following options available:

Intel® HD Graphics 440014
NVIDIA GeForce GT 735M w/ Optimus (1GB) hybrid graphics14
NVIDIA GeForce GT 735M w/ Optimus (2GB) hybrid graphics14

The 1GB card is an additional $30, and the 2GB flavor is just $20 more ($50 in total).

I'm not sure what role a graphic card will play in video editing. I don't do gaming, and from what I've read, a graphic card isn't going to improve render times either; but I've also seen people say that Vegas does utilize the GPU (again, I'm not sure what this means).
My first and foremost priority is to maximize my battery life on the machine, which is fairly average as it is...I realize that integrated graphics would be the way to go for this, but the nVidia options here are hybrid, so it'd be cool if for 90% of the time during my web browsing, word processing tasks I wouldn't have to worry about the graphics card eating away my battery time, and for the other 10% of the time when I'm working on Vegas, it pulls it's weight.
Having said that, if a $30 upgrade to a dedicated card does show significant improvement in my video editing and rendering tasks (note: I say editing and rendering, I don't care about playback as much), then why not?
So I suppose it boils down to this: will a hybrid graphics card offer me about the same battery life as an integrated graphics card (considering I won't be gaming or watching videos for 90% of the time), or is there a significant difference? And what improvement (if any) would the dedicated graphics card bring in my video editing/rendering tasks?

Let me know your thoughts please, would be much appreciated :) 

More about : graphics card system

October 23, 2013 2:35:30 PM

No expert here on video rendering but at 50 bucks and from my little understanding it would help why not?
a b U Graphics card
October 23, 2013 2:37:34 PM

it's better to have a graphics card in your system/laptop as it take off some load from you CPU. So your graphics card will process the media and your CPU can perform rest tasks. It will also keep your Cpu cool:) 

GPU(Graphics Processing Unit) (as far as it's from nvidia geforce) comes with cuda in it and that's parallel computation that work along with your CPU and minimizes the rendering time and in future almost every software is gonna use this technique(even lot of software are using this already). So basically Benefit of GPU is that you have another processor to render/process images and it'll take off load from your CPU resulting the CPU Not getting hot not getting noisy(fan).
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October 23, 2013 2:43:30 PM

I would like to stress that battery time, at this point, is the most important spec for me, so even if having a dedicated card does help *somewhat* in video editing/rendering, I would also like to know the effect that it'll have on the battery time. Will a hybrid give me a similar time to an integrated card?
I should mention that if I decide to settle for integrated graphics, I can also opt for the smaller 14" version of the laptop. I'm assuming (perhaps foolishly) that a 14" laptop would have a longer battery time than the 15.5" equivalent with same specs.
a c 355 U Graphics card
October 23, 2013 2:51:15 PM

I don't do video editing myself, but I do encode ripped movies so that I can stores them on my HTPC's hard drive instead of fumbling around through my collection of discs. I rely solely on the CPU.

Sony Vegas can use the CUDA cores in an nVidia graphics chip to help improve encoding performance, however from what I have read it do not seem to be very efficient. For example, I read a post where someone had a GTX 680 GPU, however, he only experienced a 20% boost in performance. Better than nothing, but I would assume it would be more than that considering the overall performance of the GTX 680. However, it also depends on if the codec used to encode the video also supports CUDA.

In short, to be able to take advantage of nVidia's CUDA cores to improve video editing performance you need a program that can make use of CUDA (like Sony Vegas, but probably not very optimized) and a codec that can also do so as well. For example, I really, really doubt the XviD can make use of CUDA (it barely even uses 2 threads), but I assume h.264 and x.264 are both capable of using CUDA since they are newer video codecs. You will need to verify of course.

I doubt the amount of VRAM affect the performance of CUDA so I don't think it is worth spending the additional $20 for the 2GB on the GT 735m.
October 23, 2013 4:33:12 PM

jaguarskx said:
I don't do video editing myself, but I do encode ripped movies so that I can stores them on my HTPC's hard drive instead of fumbling around through my collection of discs. I rely solely on the CPU.

Sony Vegas can use the CUDA cores in an nVidia graphics chip to help improve encoding performance, however from what I have read it do not seem to be very efficient. For example, I read a post where someone had a GTX 680 GPU, however, he only experienced a 20% boost in performance. Better than nothing, but I would assume it would be more than that considering the overall performance of the GTX 680. However, it also depends on if the codec used to encode the video also supports CUDA.

In short, to be able to take advantage of nVidia's CUDA cores to improve video editing performance you need a program that can make use of CUDA (like Sony Vegas, but probably not very optimized) and a codec that can also do so as well. For example, I really, really doubt the XviD can make use of CUDA (it barely even uses 2 threads), but I assume h.264 and x.264 are both capable of using CUDA since they are newer video codecs. You will need to verify of course.

I doubt the amount of VRAM affect the performance of CUDA so I don't think it is worth spending the additional $20 for the 2GB on the GT 735m.


So by the sound of it, I'm getting some improvement, but not by a great margin. Now to put it into perspective and to decide whether this marginal improvement is worth it, can you let me know your thoughts on battery time in integrated vs hybrid dedicated cards?

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a c 355 U Graphics card
October 23, 2013 4:49:42 PM
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When not doing anything very demanding the integrated Intel HD 4400 technically should give you longer battery life over the GT 735m. In my own tests of the Lenovo Y470 I found no real difference between using the Intel HD 3000 and the GT 550m in terms of battery life when doing non demanding things which includes surfing the web and reading.

If you are going to edit video while relying on the battery I would say using the GT 735m will result in shorter battery life when using CUDA. But the amount of time to finish encoding should also be reduced as well.
October 23, 2013 5:06:31 PM

jaguarskx said:
When not doing anything very demanding the integrated Intel HD 4400 technically should give you longer battery life over the GT 735m. In my own tests of the Lenovo Y470 I found no real difference between using the Intel HD 3000 and the GT 550m in terms of battery life when doing non demanding things which includes surfing the web and reading.

If you are going to edit video while relying on the battery I would say using the GT 735m will result in shorter battery life when using CUDA. But the amount of time to finish encoding should also be reduced as well.


Thanks, that helps a lot in making my decision. This may be a vary vague question, but to keep my options open, am I right in assuming that a 14" laptop would have more battery time than a 15.5" equivalent that would otherwise have identical specs?
a c 355 U Graphics card
October 23, 2013 5:34:44 PM

Yes, assuming the same battery is used on both laptops.

For example, the soon to be released 14" ThinkPad T440p and 15.6" ThinkPad T540p both use the same battery. Using the MobileMark® 2007 benchmark, the T440p is estimated to have a maximum battery life of 10 hours while the T540p is estimated to have a max battery life of 7 hours. MobileMark® 2007 does not replicate "real life" conditions so actual battery life will be less depending on what you are doing.
October 23, 2013 6:04:50 PM

Thanks, all sorted out now!
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