I was close to buying a new laptop with an Intel GMA 950 graphics card, what i would like to know is whether this card can be changed over for an ATI or NVIDIA card or whether i'm stuck with the integrated one?
I've heard the Intel GMA's performance is pathetic and there's no point buying a new system which cant play anything but football manager. I really dont know if i can open it up in the future and stick in a half decent card?
Probably not. Extremely few laptops have upgradeable graphics. You have to buy one in the first place that has enough zoom-zoom (sorry Mazda) to handle what you expect to run on it.
There were a few, and maybe they still make them, such as Alienware that promised upgrades for video. I suspect that you really need to keep on top of it though because models change fast in the laptop world and the internals may be outdated before a better performing video upgrade arrives for your model. Check the expensive vendors such as Alienware, Falcon, etc., maybe even the highend Dells.