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$100 video card upgrade for a non-gamer?

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April 22, 2009 7:09:27 AM

I apologize if this has already been addressed somewhere (I couldn't find it), or if I'm posting this in the wrong forum (I chose what I thought was best). I'm a newbie.

I'm just a "regular" computer user; I'm not a gamer, I'm not into hardcore computer stuff (obviously), I don't do graphic design. I use the computer for Internet, word processing, DVD burning and video/movie viewing, uploading music and transferring it to my MP3 player (plus burning a CD here and there), as well as occasional (light) photo editing.

I was comparing the HP Pavilion dv7 (AMD Turion X2 RM-72 Dual-Core Mobile Processor) to the Dell Studio 17 (Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T6400) - both have 4 GB RAM and 320GB SATA hard drive. (Honestly, I don't know what other features are important anymore - if you need to know something, please ask me! I've been researching and researching and I feel like my head is going to explode.) Anyway, when comparing the two, I liked the HP b/c - and don't cringe too much here, computer people - the guy at Best Buy made it sound like watching videos/editing photos on the HP would be so much better. However, long story not-so-short, I decided I should probably go for the Dell Studio 17 b/c it sounds like it has more of what I'm looking for (better processor, better battery life, faster wireless connectivity).

I asked a "computer whiz" friend if I should do any upgrades and he said I should bump the video card up from an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD to an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650. (I asked him to keep in mind that I don't use the computer like he does, but I'm not sure he did so.) It sounds like this would solve the discrepancy between the HP and the Dell, but is it worth it for an average computer user like me to spend the extra money on a better video card? Can someone try to explain to me (in layman's terms) what the difference between the two is? Furthermore, if I don't want to spend the money now (I'm on a budget), is that something I can upgrade later?
a b U Graphics card
April 22, 2009 7:52:58 AM

The Intel GMA 4500 can do some light 3D gaming at lower resolutions. If you aren't into games built for wonderful 3D worlds, extreme 3D gaming action (Crysis, Call of Duty 4, Grid, World In Conflict) then IMO I don't think the upgrade is worth it. It won't make a difference to yor photo/video editing as the horsepower for those tasks all come from the CPU.

If you just want to spend $100 to cherry your PC I'd get another hard drive or a faster CPU.

April 22, 2009 7:55:13 AM

You will not be able to upgrade the video card later...albeit you don't need it... :ange:  ...word to the wise when your whiz friends recommend something as youv done this time double check and ask...smart move ;) 

Im not saying either of those laptops are the best buy but you are probably going to want to go with the dell

Related resources
a c 130 U Graphics card
April 22, 2009 9:16:30 AM

Well it really comes down to Price vs Specs, As we dont even know what graphics option is in the HP and what the price differance is then its a bit dificult to give advice.
You cant as has been said change the GPU after you buy the machine so just be sure that you understand the limitations of what you are getting vs the benefits.
For what you want the Intel 4500MHD should be more than adequate, bumping up the graphics will only reduce the battery life anyway.

Mactronix
a c 259 U Graphics card
April 22, 2009 2:19:52 PM

The value of a better graphics processor is that it can display moving images faster so that the action looks smooth. I think this would only be applicable to your movie viewing application.

I would suggest that you take a favorite action dvd to the store, and ask for a demo. If it looks good to you, then no upgrade is necessary.
a c 130 U Graphics card
April 22, 2009 2:36:55 PM

Thats a good idea but i think most stotes would be worried about letting you put a disc in the machine.

Mactronix
April 22, 2009 2:54:21 PM

WTF? I just posted something, edited and then wham! The post is gone!

Anyway, get a 500GB HDD if you need it. And you really don't need to worry about access times and latencies. Get a large screen as you want to watch movies. Possibly 17" And you can't go wrong with the Radeon. Non-intel GPUs are always better than Intels. It should also provide a smoother Vista experience.
April 22, 2009 6:21:13 PM

Thanks to everyone for all your advice. Can't say I understand it all, but I appreciate it. Sorry for the long post here, but I want to respond to some of you individually:
rewindlabs said:
Im not saying either of those laptops are the best buy but you are probably going to want to go with the dell
I know those two are probably not what computer people would recommend, but from what I can tell and what I can afford (budget is about $850, though I'm trying to spend less than that b/c I'm cheap!), it seems like the Dell will be the best buy for me.
mactronix said:
As we dont even know what graphics option is in the HP and what the price differance is then its a bit dificult to give advice.
Sorry, must have forgotten to include that. The graphics card in the HP is an ATI RADEON HD 3200 graphics RS780M. The price difference is a bit more complicated, as it depends on how I customize them. At Best Buy, the Dell w/ a bumped up 9-cell battery (rather than a 6-cell standard battery and NO video card upgrade) is $730 (a video card upgrade would probably add $100) and the HP is $700. I would've included a link in my OP, but I wasn't sure it would work. Basically, here are the two computers that I'm comparing: Dell Studio 17 vs. HP Pavilion dv7
geofelt said:
The value of a better graphics processor is that it can display moving images faster so that the action looks smooth. I think this would only be applicable to your movie viewing application.
Thanks for the plain English!
rags_20 said:
Anyway, get a 500GB HDD if you need it. And you really don't need to worry about access times and latencies. Get a large screen as you want to watch movies. Possibly 17" And you can't go wrong with the Radeon. Non-intel GPUs are always better than Intels. It should also provide a smoother Vista experience.
Uhh...sorry, but I didn't understand most of that. (I am getting a 17" screen, though!) Would a 500 GB HDD be the Hard Drive size? What about what Mactronix said: "bumping up the graphics will only reduce the battery life anyway"?
April 22, 2009 6:27:56 PM

Have you thought about getting a netbook? if you copied your dvds to the harddrive and played them that way....just about everything you want to do will be covered by a netbook and cost around 400$ less than these machines your looking at....

Not to mention the long battery life....really you should take a look...

http://msiwind.net/

You can click the forum button and read up a bit...the msi wind has quite the established community and there isn't one problem you could have that hasn't been debunked and fixed it is definitely worth checking out.....

I recommend the already released Msi Wind U100 or the new Msi Wind U123 that is about to be released these netbooks are rock solid and will be more then enough to do any word processing/music/dvds you could ask for

You will save so much by going with a netbook :non:  and about the only thing extra you would need would be a good slim external cd/dvd burner to play your movies and burn your cds

I should know im an expert :p 

http://forums.msiwind.net/member6996/
April 22, 2009 6:29:32 PM

anything running in dx10 should be good for running blu-ray(since you don't do anything on your computer and you watch movies on it).
The 4670 at $65. If you want one at $100 go with 4830.
April 22, 2009 6:37:41 PM

bustapr said:
anything running in dx10 should be good for running blu-ray(since you don't do anything on your computer and you watch movies on it).
The 4670 at $65. If you want one at $100 go with 4830.


Why do you people give advice? why do you even come into the topic if your not going to take the time to read atleast the first few replies to the thread? to even asses wth they are asking? but post blindly and recommend a desktop graphics card....JACK...

frakin.. :fou: 
April 22, 2009 6:38:18 PM

rewindlabs said:
Have you thought about getting a netbook?
I briefly looked into getting a netbook, and then I tried to type on one and laughed at the passing thought of considering one. I want a full-sized laptop for lots of reasons, size being the major one... I can't think of the others right now. :??: 
bustapr said:
anything running in dx10 should be good for running blu-ray(since you don't do anything on your computer and you watch movies on it). The 4670 at $65. If you want one at $100 go with 4830.
Huh? I don't have blu-rays yet, so I'm not concerned about that...and that's pretty much the extent of what I understood. Sorry! You guys are going to pretty much have to talk to me like I'm in (computer) elementary school.

April 22, 2009 6:39:23 PM

rewindlabs said:
Why do you people give advice? why do you even come into the topic if your not going to take the time to read atleast the first few replies to the thread? to even asses wth they are asking? but post blindly and recommend a desktop graphics card....JACK... frakin.. :fou: 
Ha! You mean, I can disregard this? Good, 'cuz I didn't understand it anyway...
April 22, 2009 6:47:28 PM

Honestly, I don't know. It was a friend of a friend's. I'll definitely check it out (even though the thought of more researching is making my head spin.)

I'll probably answer my own question here, but what about screen size? I was so looking forward to that 17" display (and number pad on the keyboard! It's the small things that please me...)
a c 259 U Graphics card
April 22, 2009 6:55:30 PM

rachelly said:
Honestly, I don't know. It was a friend of a friend's. I'll definitely check it out (even though the thought of more researching is making my head spin.)

I'll probably answer my own question here, but what about screen size? I was so looking forward to that 17" display (and number pad on the keyboard! It's the small things that please me...)


To complicate your search a bit more, look at Lenovo. The IBM laptop division was sold to lenovo, and they still make one of the best laptops. There is an incredible array of types, and you can customize you order.

http://www.lenovo.com/us/en/
April 22, 2009 6:58:58 PM

geofelt said:
To complicate your search a bit more, look at Lenovo. The IBM laptop division was sold to lenovo, and they still make one of the best laptops. There is an incredible array of types, and you can customize you order.
:o  :pt1cable:  All right, looks like I won't be buying as soon as I thought I would. :pfff: 
April 22, 2009 7:00:37 PM

Lenovo does there own netbook as well...great company indeed...running a lenovo desktop and using a lenovo monitor...i love em

You most likely typed on one of the ridiculous eee's now those are a joke...i believe the netbook is a pretty good cash saver...have yourself a desktop monitor to plug in and watch movies on as well with the cash you save :) 
April 22, 2009 7:07:14 PM

So, buy a netbook + a desktop monitor + an external CD/DVD burner and I'll still save money? The problem w/ that, other than sounding complicated ((keep in mind I'm pretty much a computer retard compared to you): it doesn't sound like it'll be very portable, which is another factor I'm looking for.
April 22, 2009 7:47:15 PM

Based on what you have said in your replies to others (I like the 17" screen, not a real gamer, etc.) and in order to keep it simple I would suggest staying with your original options. You don't need the added graphics that was suggested by your friend, and a netbook simply has too small of a screen and keyboard for what you want, even if it would save you money. As long as you are comfortable with your current price range, you will have no problem at all finding a 17" notebook that will meet your needs. Either the Dell or the HP work for you. :D 

-Walter
April 22, 2009 7:52:27 PM

Thanks, Walter. That's what I needed to hear! I'll still look up the netbook and the Lenovo, but I think a mainstream computer might be OK for my needs. Although I wouldn't mind being all cool and having some techie computer, I'm not sure I need one, or can afford what I'm looking for if I don't get a more common laptop. The (re)search continues!
April 22, 2009 8:17:55 PM

The only limiting factor with the netbook would be the screen size...as iv got large/med hands and the winds keyboard is more then enough by far...
April 22, 2009 10:34:45 PM

Rachelly make sure to check out the pm response...

I believe that will be your best bet ;) 
April 23, 2009 12:42:40 AM

bustapr said:
anything running in dx10 should be good for running blu-ray(since you don't do anything on your computer and you watch movies on it).
The 4670 at $65. If you want one at $100 go with 4830.
We're talking notebooks.
April 23, 2009 12:50:36 AM

And there was this guy who said a graphics card displays moving pictures better and he's totally right. I guess there are some external blu-rays available. Anyway, like I said, Windows Vista's Aero interface - that is all the graphics stuff in Vista will be a lot smoother if you get the Radeon. Overall, I'd say you will benefit from getting the GPU.
April 23, 2009 12:50:59 AM

rags_20 said:
We're talking notebooks.

What is the point in two responses to the stupid response :sarcastic: 
April 23, 2009 1:55:17 AM

Sorry, but I didn't exactly read all of the posts.
April 23, 2009 3:00:13 AM

Gah...I seem to have some people who say I should upgrade the graphics card, and some saying I shouldn't?
April 23, 2009 4:59:59 AM

Its obvious in forums. There are opposing views. You have to choose the best after reading all of them. GAH!
April 23, 2009 5:33:39 AM

I know. I didn't mean to state the obvious. I guess what I was trying to say is that people are saying conflicting things, but not everyone is giving reasons why or why not. I was just expressing my frustration at feeling like I'm not necessarily getting a lot of good answers that I can understand (though I did get some.)
a b U Graphics card
April 23, 2009 5:40:09 AM

Oh noes! It's the mighty, "what I need" vs "what I desire" debate!

Seriously though, what's the real disadvantage of having better graphics on a platform that will never be capable of having it's graphics capabilities increased later? None, period. Well, other than an initial price increase.

Edit: Also, isn't ATI's integrated HD and video processing a grade above everyone else's?
April 23, 2009 5:53:18 AM

The disadvantage is paying $100 for something is not necessary for my computer needs when I could use that money for something else...like food.
April 23, 2009 6:01:30 AM

rachelly said:
The disadvantage is paying $100 for something is not necessary for my computer needs when I could use that money for something else...like food.

Thats a hell of alot of fat greasy unhealthy american cheese burgers....I :love:  burgers...so tasty..so unhealthy

Seriously you don't need the gpu..
April 23, 2009 6:04:27 AM

Ha! Who says I eat meat? (Kidding) Dammit, not I want a cheeseburger... :pfff: 

Now, whose advice to trust? Yours? Hmmm... ;)  (As much as I'd love better graphics, I'll probably listen to you.)

The powers that be can close this thread if they'd like. (I forgot to click the "allow thread to be closed if issue is solved" box when I made it.)
April 23, 2009 6:11:54 AM

Do what you want. This is not Yahoo Answers. This is discussion, not Question and Answer. And why don't you take off that picture?
April 23, 2009 6:14:25 AM

There are cheese burgers in the bowl of my avatar :D 


The latest pm should clear some things up as well...
April 23, 2009 6:21:09 AM

You mean, I can do what I want? Wow... My world has opened up! I'm freeee!

I'm fine w/ a discussion, but it did initially start w/ my question, so "question and answer" isn't out of the...well, question. I'm not expecting it to be Yahoo Answers. I know how an online forum works.

What the hell is wrong w/ my picture besides the fact that you apparently don't like it?
a c 130 U Graphics card
April 23, 2009 7:51:15 AM

Hi again rachelly,
Sorry i havent got back to you untill now, i worked a night shift last night :sleep: 
Thanks for the link to the two machines it has made things much easier.
Long story short you want to get the Dell.
Both Graphics options are suitable, indeed designed to playback high def content, ie Blu Ray.
The Graphics chip on the HP is faster than the dell but we are not gaming so we wont let that concern us.
The main reason for recomending the Dell is the CPU which given your list of uses for your laptop is the important thing for you. It is significantly better than the HP CPU at crunching calculations which is basically what these operations you posted, "word processing, DVD burning and video/movie viewing, uploading music and transferring it to my MP3 player (plus burning a CD here and there), as well as occasional (light) photo editing. " Are all about.
Oh and as far as the faster GPU giving better HD playback well i can see where geofelt is coming from but thats not how it works as far as movie playback is concerned, games yes, movies no.
The fact that its a HD Graphics chip means it has dedicated hardware to help the CPU with its decoding(the 3200 does as well) but its more the CPU that matters in this case which is again why the Dell with its faster CPU comes out on top.
Hope that helps
Mactronix
April 23, 2009 8:18:26 AM

I recommend the T4200 as the T6400 is exactly the same cpu with just a bump in l1 cache for 50$ and since he/she is doing mundane hardly pressing activitys i find its best to save that bit of cash...for more cheese burgers
a c 376 U Graphics card
April 23, 2009 10:24:41 AM

You aren't a gamer = you don't need a graphics upgrade.
Why is everyone acting like this is a difficult question?
April 23, 2009 10:42:06 AM

jyjjy said:
You aren't a gamer = you don't need a graphics upgrade.
Why is everyone acting like this is a difficult question?

I know right :sweat: 
April 23, 2009 11:58:33 AM

Wow so they found another thing to stick that lousy 9300gm into....asus needs a new ion platform before they get the market pulled from under em...wait what market :lol: 

The Asus wouldn't be too bad...its portable as well...not by much....and it has a lower resolution by a couple hundred pixels but nothing too hindering

The processor is that one i mentioned with the increased l1 cache....although you wouldn't make much use of it that is a pretty sweet price....if it isn't built like shet it wouldn't be half bad alternative...

You would of course need to get an extended battery like you where with the dell...its screen is only 3" below the dells
April 23, 2009 12:05:49 PM

only problem is it's a 14.1 in screen. I'm pretty sure he want's a 17 in screen.

The HP is pretty well priced IMO compared to newegg (very similar model) which is surprisingly more expensive. I would go with the HP if I were you. The ATI HD3200 is FAR superior to the GMA4500. The processing power would similar in both machines. The only benefit I see with the DELL is longer battery life due to the 9 cell battery.
April 23, 2009 12:12:17 PM

A dedicated hi-end graphics card in a laptop should be avoided unless you really - really need it. Most of the time they just sit there and drain the battery.
Best upgrade for a laptop is an SSD, unless you really really need a lot of storage space and don't want to carry an external harddrive around with you. A good SSD like the OCZ Vertex will make your applications and operating system start almost instantaneously - fortunately this is an upgrade you can easily do later, so just go ahead and pick a laptop you like - size, screen quality, color etc. is probably most important for "just a regular computer user" since all laptops are quite powerful these days.
April 23, 2009 12:23:52 PM

Quote:
A dedicated hi-end graphics card in a laptop should be avoided
The 3650 is not high-end, the 280M is
April 23, 2009 8:28:49 PM

Thank you to all for your advice. I think I've gotten my answer. Unfortunately, thanks to Rewindlabs, I think I've come up with more questions! :pt1cable:  Maybe I'll start a new thread for those, unless you all don't mind me going off-topic. (I know some forums are more strict about that than others.)

The Asus? Hmm...I don't know. I'll check it out, but I'm wary. (I accidentally typed "ASSus" at first. Is that a coincidence, or...?)

sepayne21 said:
only problem is it's a 14.1 in screen. I'm pretty sure he want's a 17 in screen.

The HP is pretty well priced IMO compared to newegg (very similar model) which is surprisingly more expensive. I would go with the HP if I were you. The ATI HD3200 is FAR superior to the GMA4500. The processing power would similar in both machines. The only benefit I see with the DELL is longer battery life due to the 9 cell battery.


Yes, SHE would like a 17" screen. What can I say, sometimes bigger is better? :D 

I don't know what a "newegg" is. I think I can uprgrade the battery on the HP if I really wanted it, but I was under the impression that the HP would be slower (according to my dad and CNET). Plus, the HP has B + G for wireless networking, whereas the Dell has B + G + N, which I have been told is the fastest.
April 24, 2009 12:14:22 AM

Newegg.com is an online electronics store. The computer hardware prices there are comparatively low.
April 24, 2009 3:35:40 PM

Don't expect to much "upgrade ability" with an HP, there notorious for having BS ways of physically blocking upgrades. Its for this reason alone I will never buy another HP product. It's just one big pain in the ass if something goes wrong with your equipment.

One more thing, while a 17" screen sounds nice on paper, try lugging one of those things around. Your in for quite a surprise if think dragging that boat anchor to Starbucks to check your email will be easy. Just a warning.....


April 25, 2009 1:17:35 AM

espslyxerx2 said:
Don't expect to much "upgrade ability" with an HP, there notorious for having BS ways of physically blocking upgrades. Its for this reason alone I will never buy another HP product. It's just one big pain in the ass if something goes wrong with your equipment.

One more thing, while a 17" screen sounds nice on paper, try lugging one of those things around. Your in for quite a surprise if think dragging that boat anchor to Starbucks to check your email will be easy. Just a warning.....

Oh yes...that is another reason to jump on the netbook craze in my opinion as you won't ever have to second guess...will i have enough room to set it up :??:  should i lug that heavy thing around all day :(  will i have enough battery life to get through the day/my classes etc

Oh hell no...just drop it in your purse/man bag and hit the road :)  ....
!