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Selling points: Onboard vs dedicated graphics?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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September 21, 2006 7:23:00 PM

Hi all

I recently attempted raising a discussion concerning whether or not a person not much into gaming ought to invest in a costly graphics card when one of those many onboard solutions probably could do the job just fine...

The persons behind some of the contributions clearly did not understand what I was trying to disclose, and said that, "At TG forumz, we're all gamers", etc.

But what I really wanted to do was to reveal those key selling points! Think of a GeForce Go 7600 GPU in a notebook compared to Intel GMA 950. If I am not much into gaming, which advantages will I get by purchasing the expensive solution from e.g. NVIDIA?

Are there any advantages for the average business man? Or is it the video enthusiast who can draw benefit from a dedicated video card?

To make it short and concise: Why choose dedicated graphics (especially in the business segment, therefore no focus on gaming)

/Kenneth_K
September 21, 2006 7:26:12 PM

Quote:
Hi all

I recently attempted raising a discussion concerning whether or not a person not much into gaming ought to invest in a costly graphics card when one of those many onboard solutions probably could do the job just fine...

The persons behind some of the contributions clearly did not understand what I was trying to disclose, and said that, "At TG forumz, we're all gamers", etc.

But what I really wanted to do was to reveal those key selling points! Think of a GeForce Go 7600 GPU in a notebook compared to Intel GMA 950. If I am not much into gaming, which advantages will I get by purchasing the expensive solution from e.g. NVIDIA?

Are there any advantages for the average business man? Or is it the video enthusiast who can draw benefit from a dedicated video card?

To make it short and concise: Why choose dedicated graphics (especially in the business segment, therefore no focus on gaming)

/Kenneth_K


Two words: DEDICATED MEMORY. :D 
September 21, 2006 7:31:02 PM

Yeah, of course - but how to communicate this to the consumer?

And why should the business segment need dedicated memory?

Aren't there any cool "features" with a dedicated GPU? CPU offloading, anything?
Related resources
September 21, 2006 8:03:26 PM

Quote:
Aren't there any cool "features" with a dedicated GPU? CPU offloading, anything?

Doesn't use system RAM, more powerful. Onboard graphics can barely play movies at decent quality.
September 21, 2006 8:03:26 PM

There are 3 reasons to get dedicated graphics:

1. Gaming
2. Professional 3d apps (like 3dsMAX)
3. Video work (to a lesser extent than the first two because some integrated solutions are getting better at some aspects of this)

If you aren't doing any of these 3 things, an integrated solution will work just as well as anything else.
September 21, 2006 9:07:29 PM

The business segment doesn't need dedicated RAM for graphics... or an add-on card. Any old integrated graphics will be fine for MS Office/internet/e-mail/viewing photos etc.

There are applications where you would want dedicated graphics in a business environment: CAD,GIS,Graphics,and Video editing. I can tell you out of our office a handful need an add on card (10 people out of somehwere around 107).

On a cost vs. benifit analysis it simply isn't worth it as a business to provide this to all employees as integrated works perfectly fine. In fact adding a video card adds another point of failure for the PC and means added downtime (I've had more problems with desktop video cards than mobo's)

As far as my spending decisions I choose to get a system at a pre-determined price (around $1200 without monitor) for our average user. At this price point I choose RAM and processor power over a GPU as it is not needed. In comparison, for graphics users I have a higher price target ($2000 without monitor, + 2 19"LCD's). Of course these are desktop price points... laptops are a bit higher.
September 21, 2006 9:38:32 PM

Onboard doesn't automatically mean shared memory. There are solutions that have dedicated memory for onboard video. I have a laptop that has it's own memory, and I've just recently purchased a desktop for a client that also had it.
September 21, 2006 10:08:38 PM

Quote:
There are 3 reasons to get dedicated graphics:

1. Gaming
2. Professional 3d apps (like 3dsMAX)
3. Video work (to a lesser extent than the first two because some integrated solutions are getting better at some aspects of this)

If you aren't doing any of these 3 things, an integrated solution will work just as well as anything else.


Agreed. Some may insist that a dedicated video card does not use your RAM and this way makes your cpmputer more powerful. It is true, but it is irrelevant for a businessman. Only if you do very heavy multitasking will you need every byte of RAM. But if you do not run 15 things simultaneously you will be fine with integrated graphics.

As a matter of fact, I have two Dells in my office. Both have rather crapy integrated graphics and while I could not play the most demanding games I can still play several of my all-time favorites such as

Diablo 2,
Baldur's Gate 2
Master of Orion 2

and, of course

World of Warcraft which is a recent and good-looking game unlike the three old games above.

So yeah, for a traveling businessman there are VERY few (if any) compelling reasons to spend money on a dedicated video card.
September 21, 2006 11:36:42 PM

Outputting To televisions or projectors, multiple monitor support. These sound like things a traveling business person might be interested in.
September 22, 2006 12:49:06 AM

I'm sorry I thought it was self-evident

Graphics boards offer features like: TV/Projector output as well as multiple monitor support. Most onboard solutions do not, and those that do usually do not to the same level.
September 22, 2006 1:13:55 AM

If you have a projector, and a 7600 laptop card, you can use the multiple monitor support to use a vga out for your projector and enjoy crisp perfect visuals in an excel presentation, or even output in component HD. Even though some onboard gpus provide these features, they do not offer the same support and options. In addition to simply increasing productivity in general, offloading ram etc.

And what are you talking about "projectors don't output very well anyway"
Have you ever used a projector in the last ten years?

I'm not saying that these features are for everyone, I'm saying if you plan on giving presentations with your laptop there are a whole host of benefits inherent in having a real vga card. I don't think most "traveling business men" need one

what the hell are you arguing with me for, I simply provided a single example of something a VGA card can due that onboard can't that business men might be interested in. You can't really disagree, it's just true. Is It worth the money, I don't know, I don't care. Would I buy one, do I think you should? I don't have an opinion.
September 22, 2006 1:25:48 AM

Quote:
I recently attempted raising a discussion concerning whether or not a person not much into gaming ought to invest in a costly graphics card

Simple answer: no. Around here it's sometimes difficult to get an answer that isn't pitched towards high-end gaming but I can tell you from experience that nVidia 6100 or 6150 mobo's are plenty powerful for non-gamers. They'll cope with anything you want to do, including video playback.
September 22, 2006 1:34:14 AM

This topic comes up frequently, and from experience and previous posts:

Onboard graphics do not play games well, period, not ever.

The latest onboard chips are faster than some video cards of just a few
years ago, without the special gaming features, and with a moderate
overall performance penalty. What do you need to display Excel?

Unless it's for the special purposes like external presentations, to add
a card to a laptop will only give you more heat inside, more power draw, etc.
Bottom line, if you want to game get a good rig!
September 22, 2006 1:49:25 AM

If you're getting a laptop, and you're not using it for games/3d apps, then you'll be fine with integrated grahpics.
September 22, 2006 2:08:31 AM

OOOOOOH, I get it you are comparing it to a laptop lcd instead of something relative at all, NOW I SEE why you sound like such an idiot.

I guess since your laptop screen is so great you should use it to give a presentation to a firm you want to do business with.

In general, unless you intend to game, onboard will be adequate.

wtf do you want from me habitat?

for the record I own two laptops my toshiba Aw8 has an intel gma 950, which works great.

My dell (I know it was a gift) has a 7600 gs in it. I give presentations with it. Because it has more display features. FACT

I'm going to go get in my 28 k car, to go home to my paradigms, sit in my leather chair, and listen to charles benson, or maybe turn on my sony wega 50 inch lcd and watch a movie.

Right before I get back to my low standards of living that are coloring my viewpoint and causing me to misinterpret simple facts.
September 22, 2006 3:54:40 AM

Overall I think integrated graphics is better for the masses (as I am a system integrator), and discrete should be an option for the ones who feel like it. In most of the cases, simple people are just overwhelmed by seeing so many devices etc. (these are the old-age, as we them tech-no's). But maybe I'm saying it b/c I'm also advocate of integrated audio, IDE, SATA, LAN, and other things, just to decrease costs, and the pain it is to get things working together.

But the other thing is that some months ago when I was stuck w/ Intel 82815 of my Asus CUSL-L (its an OEM HP board), when I upgraded to Radeon 9600 I saw a positive change in the colour composition too. Means I saw a difference in quality in the 'my computer' window too.

On the other hand I think its not good is that the integrated VGA doesn't get updates (Intel and SiS, VIA). This is not good, IMO its OK to get as much as you need, why buy 256MB GDDR if you're not going to exploit it? However its up to the manufacturers to avoid putting in obsolete technology with new memory controllers (in the north bridge). I am an advocate of Emerson's "make everything new".

Quote:
Think of a GeForce Go 7600 GPU in a notebook compared to Intel GMA 950. If I am not much into gaming, which advantages will I get by purchasing the expensive solution from e.g. NVIDIA?


Better image quality, as per my experience, but if Intel covers up the gap, I don't think there's any need. And definitely the ability to decode WMV etc in hardware, lessening the strain on the CPU, and on the PSU too (the general idea is that it'll consume less since its being done on a special purpose proc, optimized for the task). And the benefit of getting updated drivers every month.
September 22, 2006 7:54:45 AM

I work in the marketing department at a system integrator's, so I really wanted to thank you all for your answers which helped me a great deal.

NVIDIA and ATI will seemingly face a tough time in the years to come, especially in the business segment. If only Intel would up the ante a bit...

More comments are appreciated, but thanks for all your contributions 8)
September 22, 2006 12:45:25 PM

Oops...forgot about this thread :roll:

Yeah, I can say that where I work (a call center), we use nothing but onboard graphics. Even worse, EVERY PC on the floor has a Celery--er, Celeron--processor. Yep, they are all Dells...ranging from GX150's to GX260s and now theres a bunch of GX520's on the floor for that company that requires 18 Windows open at the same time for every call.

Point? Yeah, it sux for me when I try to have 8 IE windows open at once on my PC with only 256MB RAM using onboard video, but the important thing is, it works. More importantly, the latest intg. graphics solutions are almost all DirectX 9.0b/9.0c compatible--just avoid SiS chipsets at all costs if able, just because they use something barely DirectX 7.0 capable for video 8O Heck, even the recently ressurected (well, at least here in the USA) onboard S3 graphics are halfway decent, though Intel, NVIDIA, and ATI's current onboard video solutions are more future-proof as far as capabilities.

By the way, I can't directly say who it is I work for, but if you do just a little homework, and look at where I'm from on my profile, you can find out for yourself. Not that anyone should care.
September 29, 2006 9:33:20 AM

Get the weaker onboard video and your laptop will use less energy giving you more battery life, prolly run cooler too. More time to run off battery will probably always be better for your needs.
a b U Graphics card
September 29, 2006 7:53:24 PM

Quote:
Get the weaker onboard video and your laptop will use less energy giving you more battery life, prolly run cooler too. More time to run off battery will probably always be better for your needs.


Onboard will not save you much power except when you actually NEED more power anyways, and that's when the onboard just doesn't work at all.

Due to power saving designs and the ability to shut down PCIe lanes when not in use, the integrated doesn't save much power in similar situations, when idle both consume minimal amounts of power, only when running full out does the dedidacted graphics chew up battery, but that's to be expected.
September 29, 2006 10:09:52 PM

I got a laptop that I do everthing with, exeped games. its a compaq with a pentium m runing at 1.6 gh, not very impresive but it dose what I need it to. its onbord video is mobil intelR 915GM, 128mb on a psi bus. but you dont only need graphics power for gameing, the colors and quality of your graphics engine helps with other aps as well. but if your not gameing, and I meen not gameing at all! a onbord graphics system should be fine.
September 30, 2006 1:38:36 AM

As noted in other posts, the majority of basic business uses of a computer are served at least adequately or better by even the worst of the Intel graphics chips that are the on-board GPU of choice among MB manufacturers. Tom's had a review of all the available (at the time of review) on-board GPUs about a year and a half ago (maybe longer than that, I can't remember the date). You may want to check it out.

Notebook computers generally have much better GPUs than the ones found on most desktop MBs because they have to, for what should be obvious reasons. Intel is the leading supplier of on-board GPUs for one simple reason - they are the cheapest of the lot in price. But you do get what you pay for.

The most critical limitation of even the mid-range Intel GPUs is the relatively low maximum resolution and refresh rates they support, especially at higher colour depths. This becomes an issue with CRTs larger than 17", especially 19" & 21"+ and LCDs larger than 15". The other valid issue raised earlier is that most on-board GPUs do not support multiple monitors. This can be a significant issue even for some "basic" business apps. Better quality on-board GPUs don't tend to have these limitations, but they cost a lot more, and still don't offer all the capabilities of a stand-alone graphics card.

You will likely be unpleasantly surprised at the price differential between a MB (from the same manufacturer) that uses Intel vs nVidea or ATI on-board graphics. When you look at the price of a "non-graphics" MB + cheap to mid-range stand-alonecard with both noticeably better performance and more features than the on-board GPU, you will not be amused. And it doesn't matter if the system with on-board GPU is leased or bought. More thoughts on this issue later.

Firstly the issue of monitor compatabilty.

The issue with CRTs is that the maximum resolution and refresh rates (at high colour depths) of these chips is well below even the upper middle of the usable range of the display. This means that you lose the capabilities of the expensive device you got to get a bigger picture - 1024 x 768 on a 19" screen is the functional equivalent of 800 x 600 on a 17" screen. And you purchased the 19+" screen for what reason? And the price difference between a good 19" or 21" CRT and a 17" CRT is more than the price of a mid-range stand-alone graphics card that would allow full use of the expensive big screen. Some saving here - more like spending fifty bucks to save fifty cents. Now there's a sound approach to running a business.

WIth LCDs the issue is that they all have a default native resolution for which they are optimized. Yes, they will work at other (both lower and higher) resolutions, but the image quality will be noticeably degraded. And the further away from the default, the worse it gets. If the on-board GPU doesn't support a resolution of say 1280 x 1024 (at 32 bit colour depth), which is the default resolution for both 17" & 19" LCD screens you will have a problem. Again, full value of monitor unavailable, plus lots of eyestrain. Can you say "lost productivity"?

Secondly, the issue of multiimonitor support.

In the business that I am in, it is frequently the case that very wide spreadsheets are generated, which benefit from being viewed accross 2 screens, so that more columns are visible. Other times, it is necessary t ohave both a spread sheet and word processing document open simultaneously for data transfer. In both cases it is useful to have the much larger display capacity of 2 screens (which don't have to be of the same size or type). I suspect that other businesses also generate very wide spreadsheets in which a real-time view of as many columns as possible is useful. Additionaly, there are times when multitasking requirements would make multi-monitor support really useful.

On the issue of price of MB with on-board GPU vs standalone card, the following points are useful to remember.

1) Most MBs with on-baord video are targeted at the "budget" market, where performance is not an issue - hence the preponderance of low-performance Intel GPUs. See "inexpensive" Dell systems for example.

2) the price differential between systems with on-board video better than Intel's vs basic Intel is surprisingly high.

3) on-board video does normally use system RAM. You will suffer performance losses as a result. More RAM to compensate will cost more money.

4) The price differential between a system without on-board graphics + a cheap to mid-range stand-alone card and a system with built in graphics is not as big as one would expect. And cheap to mid-range graphics cards are more than adequate for business applications.

5) a cheap stand-alone card gives you more options for a relatively small increase in cost. Flexibility in business is a good thing.

If you are using the system for applications requiring high resolutions, complex graphics (CAD, GIS, graphical design, etc), sophisticated video playback, very complex presentations and so on, get a mid-range current generation or, even better, an upper end older (1 to 3 generations) card for those systems. Equally important, don't skimp on the RAM and other components. For all other systems, on-board graphics are fine as long as you confirm that the performance of the chip is adequate and compatable with the monitors you are planning to use. Again, don't skimp on the RAM.

One other point that needs to be kept in mind is that the "eye-candy" component of Windows has increased significantly with XP, and Vista is, by all reports, a huge graphics hog. Current on-board GPUs can cope with WP's demands, but they certainly won't be able to cope with Vista's. Unless you are leasing your systems, you will need to either replace the entire systems you have, or upgrade to stand-alone video cards for all your systems when you upgrade to Vista (whwenever it comes out). This assumes that you will upgrade to Vista sooner rather than later. But you will have to eventually.

Summary:

1) For most business applications, even the low-end Intel on-board GPUs are more than adequate. There is no practical need for stand-alone video cards, as long as hardware compatabilty issues are kept in mind and addressed.

2) If you require more sophisticated capabilities and performance than on-board GPUs can provide, approximately 90% of these can be be met with stand-alone video cards 1 to 3 generations (in some cases older) old. With a significant cost savings. It is NOT necessary to have the latest, greatest top-line equipment for the majority staff. It is necessary to keep reasonably current.

3) 5% to 10% of your systems will requiree top-end graphics and therefore systems to do the job required.

4) a long term perspective is crucial, especially if one owns the hardware instead of leasing it. Spending up to $150.00 extra per system, and being able to avoid upgrading entire systm for at least a year is a good investment. Especially if the cost of getting this capability is below $120.00 per system

5) Unless you lease your systems, future hardware capacity demands of new versions of operating systems are an issue that needs to be considered. Even if you lease, the cost of new systems able to meet the requirements of the new version may be (unpleasantly) surprising. If there isn't a hugely radical change in total system requirements, a simple upgrade to a newer stand-alone video card may be all one needs to successfully run the new version (this assumes adequiate RAM, etc), as opposed to getting a whole new system.
October 2, 2006 4:21:14 AM

Hi WizardOZ,

Thanks for your kind reply. Reading your post was a real pleasure!

/Kenneth
October 2, 2006 5:19:27 AM

Quote:
Vista

what he said
!