Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Integrated Graphics

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
Share
June 22, 2008 4:40:57 PM

I am thinking of buying my first laptop computer, and I need to decide whether I should buy an integrated or discrete graphics solution.

Since I do not do any 3D gaming (though I do some light photoshop, and video watching), most of what I have read suggests that a discrete graphics solution is unnecessary. But the words I keep hearing, "good enough," scare me. My experience with desktop computers has always been that integrated graphics solutions are characteristic of low-end, sluggish performance even in 2D situations. But then again, that was back in the old days.

I am worried about the integrated graphics hogging main memory, and also sharing the bus to main memory even outside of 3D work. Some of what I do is pretty heavy CPU and memory bandwidth load, and I'm worried this is when the cheaper integrated graphics will assert itself. It just seems awkward for me to get a near top-of-the-line CPU, a ton of memory, a high-speed bus, etc, and then have an integrated solution tank performance

Have I got it wrong? For someone who likes his desktop performance lightning fast, is something like the Intel GMA X3100 GM965 or
System graphics nVIDIA Quadro NVS 140M appropriate? (Maybe I've betrayed I'm looking at ThinkPads) I don't mind spending some extra cash if it makes a difference I could notice. (I'm putting aside battery life here).

I figure if someone can give me sound advice, it's the guys (and gals) here. Thanks in advance!

More about : integrated graphics

June 22, 2008 5:11:14 PM

Gaming aside the X3100 is actually moderately capable, but I'd still far rather have a low end GPU like an 8400GS or HD2400/HD34x0. Their video processing should be far better and they have dedicated video memory so that the graphics aren't leaching main memory (capacity or bandwidth). Also, with Vista being as demanding as it is for 3D horsepower, the X3100 might be a bit sluggish (I have no personal experience). The Quadro series are workstation graphics and add several hundred dollars to the overall price without offering anything to the average user over the low end cards I mentioned above.

I know that Toshiba has several customizable models of varying sizes (13.3", 14", 15.4", and 17") that have graphics options like the HD3470 or the HD3650 that can be well equipped for about $1000. Do some shopping around and you'll probably find something more suitable than a Quadro equipped system, just make sure to get a reasonably fast processor and plenty of RAM.

-mcg
June 22, 2008 6:30:14 PM

Thanks very much for your help!

I would probably dual-boot FreeBSD and Windows Vista, but I don't think this changes much of anything you said.

The NVIDIA Quadro NVS 140M (128MB) is the only discrete graphics offered by Lenovo for ThinkPads (besides a 256MB version, if I'm reading things right). It only costs $80 over a comparable but integrated graphics (Intel GMA X3100 GM965) solution. I do recall that Quadro is really the line of professional graphics processors from nVidia, and I bet you're right that it wouldn't serve me much better than any other discrete card (which, you seem to confirm, would probably do me better than integrated). But unless I'm missing something (and maybe I am), it isn't the hundreds of dollars more that you suggest (and, frankly, I remember from when I used to follow these things). It's only the $80...

I could switch from ThinkPad to another maker to try to get a cheaper discrete graphics processor unit, but for $80, I'd probably stick with Lenovo.

Thoughts?
Related resources
June 22, 2008 6:40:22 PM

Something to keep in mind is workstation cards like that does not support directx, only opengl. So for typical desktop, it's actually worse than the higher onboards that support dx hardware acceleration. Besides, a $50 hd3650 perform far better, support dx10, and is cheaper.
June 22, 2008 6:49:16 PM

dx10? why....
June 22, 2008 6:58:12 PM

I have an 8400M GS in my laptop and it runs all the Source engine games just fine(HL2, TF2, Portal, CS:S, etc...), so and HD 2400 or better on the ATI side would do just as well.

As far as a quadro goes, it is designed for CAD/Rendering work and will not be as good at gaming as a GeForce or Radeon.
June 22, 2008 7:11:05 PM

OP, dude you better keep away from X3100. I bought X3000 with so much expectations, and i have been left tearing my hair off for decent drivers. X3100 isnt more than 10% better than X3000. It will barely run Vista and you will be left frustratated. Better get a very very cheap GPU or get nVidia or ati onboard solution. But please stay away from Intel (Best of Luck)
a b U Graphics card
June 22, 2008 7:35:54 PM

dagger said:
Something to keep in mind is workstation cards like that does not support directx, only opengl. So for typical desktop, it's actually worse than the higher onboards that support dx hardware acceleration. Besides, a $50 hd3650 perform far better, support dx10, and is cheaper.


Not true! :non: 

I have a ThinkPad T43P with a quadro card, and it works with DX 9.0c. The Quadros are optimized for applications like Maya and CAD programs that use OpenGL, but they also work great with DX. :sol: 
June 22, 2008 8:17:03 PM

dagger, Gravemind123: Thanks for your thoughts, but support for DX is not important for me since I'm not doing any gaming, whatsoever. In fact, most of my time will be spent in FreeBSD, not even Windows! If anything, OpenGL probably is the more important in terms of 3D graphics. But the reason I'm asking about cards is not for gaming, but because I'm worried about sharing main memory (and the bus) with an integrated graphics processor.

The question seems to still stand: does anyone think I'm crazy for believing that an integrated graphics solution will affect non-3D performance by using up memory and bus?

wrazor: Did you have drivers issues in Windows Vista (I just remembered they were crippled!)? Supposedly Intel has pretty good (and free) drivers for FreeBSD; nVidia only has proprietary drivers, as I understand. That doesn't say which work better, and nothing about Windows support. This wasn't something I had been thinking about, but it's good that you mention it.

rgsaunders: I'll look into the customizable options on that model. I prefer WSXGA+, memory running at 1:1 with 800MHZ bus, 2.5GHz Duo. That kind of thing. A ThinkPad T61 with those options (and NVIDIA Quadro NVS 140M) runs about $1250.

DXRick: Do you have the 128 or 256MB nVidia Quadro on the T43P? Is it pretty fast for you (what do you use your computer for)? What do you think about this business with integrated vs discrete? (I ask because you own a somewhat similar machine as I'm looking at).

Thanks very much, all. In addition to my earlier questions (and I'm displaying my ignorance here), the NVIDIA Quadro NVS 140M is soldered to the board, right? Are people suggesting add-in cards? I've never owned a laptop, and though I've used many different graphics cards on desktop computers, I don't know even how you add a card in (push it in a slot?).
June 22, 2008 8:50:40 PM

Try to get a laptop with both integrated graphics AND discrete graphics.

I saw one laptop that had an integrated HD3200 and Discrete HD3400 series card.... When the laptop ran only on it's battery, the HD3400 was completely shut off, and the laptop would only use the integrated HD3200. When the laptop was plugged into ta power source, the HD3400 would kick in and it would work with the HD3200 in hybrid crossfire on this specific mobo.
June 22, 2008 9:01:48 PM

Laptops with ATI 3650s and Nvidia 9500 GSs can be had for under $1000. Although the OP didn't mention a price range, I'd assume these are both within his budget... and should he change his mind on gaming or just want to enable some insane Linux GUI effects, he'll have that option.
June 22, 2008 9:15:30 PM

integrated graphics are just fine for 'light' gaming. My old GMA950 ran (low settings of course) farcry, battlefront II, and plows through quakeIII based games. Vista with aero is also smooth even with just 512mb of ram. And of course compiz on *nix and BSD are most excellent.

integrated graphics will also use significantly less power than a discrete solution.
June 22, 2008 9:19:52 PM

skittle said:
integrated graphics are just fine for 'light' gaming. My old GMA950 ran (low settings of course) farcry, battlefront II, and plows through quakeIII based games. Vista with aero is also smooth even with just 512mb of ram. And of course compiz on *nix and BSD are most excellent.

integrated graphics will also use significantly less power than a discrete solution.

Keep in mind, that 512mb for integrated graphics is shared memory cannibalized from main system ram, so it's not the same as 512mb onboard a discrete card. For any kind of gaming, however light, discrete is the way to go.
a b U Graphics card
June 22, 2008 9:39:23 PM

I run a Compaq laptop with integrated 945GM GPU. It runs Photoshop CS2 on XP and Beryl on Ubuntu 8.04 with no issues. However, the laptop rgsaunders is pretty decent.
June 22, 2008 9:55:07 PM

beryl was replaced by the way, it merged with compiz.
June 22, 2008 10:24:59 PM

integrated graphics have been for the most part terrible in recent years. i recently built a new system and decided to leave out the video card and wait for the new cards (i just ordered a 4850). so for the time being i was using my 780G motherboard's integrated graphics chip, a radeon HD3200. for an IGP, it wasn't that far behind my old 7600GT in terms of performance. i was able to play all of the orange box games at 1680x1050 on at least medium graphics settings while keeping a playable framerate.
June 22, 2008 10:31:03 PM

Dagger, do your research before you spread lies.

They can handle DX9.
!