Discrete vs Dedicated confusion


I've been looking around for a new laptop, mainly for gaming, and been running into some roadblocks. Currently, I can understand what the difference is between discrete and dedicated video cards.

I've searched through many sites and forums and found mixed answers. Some say they are the same, others say that dedicated is better because discrete will still use some of the systems RAM. At this point I am hopelessly confused. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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More about discrete dedicated confusion
  1. In my experience, discrete and dedicated are the same thing. I think you might be confusing dedicated with integrated. Someone correct me if I am wrong.

    Integrated Graphics Processor (you reference as dedicated) borrows memory from your system, and is built into the motherboard. Newer ones can often play HD video fine, as well as basic 2d functionality, like surfing, spreadsheats, word etc. Where they fall down hard is in 3d applications like gaming.

    A Discrete GPU, or a videocard you add to your system, have all of their own resources on the card and can be powered seperately from the PSU, or recieve all the power they need from the PCI-E slot it is plugged into. The more powerful the card, the more likely it requires a direct power connection to the PSU. New videocards, even some of the cheapest ones, will be better in almost everyway than an IGP.

    If you are planning on gaming or any 3d intense application, you need to get a seperate videocard, as the IGP will only be dissappointing. What Videocard you can use, or even run, depends on the rest of your system, including PSU, CPU, and operating system, as well as your intended uses and budget.

    With that information we may be able to make specific recommendations, but I hope I have cleared that up for you a little.
  2. Jofa - I think you missed the part about the OP looking for a new laptop.

    Sotesko - Jofa's information is essentially correct (for desktops) and mostly holds true for laptops as well. Laptops with dedicated graphics cards will perform much better in 3D applications such as gaming. There isn't much concern for power, however as the laptop manufacturer will have taken that into consideration for you when designing it with a dedicated GPU in mind. Some dedicated GPUs WILL borrow memory from the system (be it in a laptop or a desktop) and Vista/Windows 7 does this automatically regardless.

    In short, if you intend to game on this laptop, get one with a dedicated graphics card. When deciding which one to get, make sure the second numeral of the graphics card model is a "5" or higher and from either ATI/AMD or NVidia.

    Some examples:

    Radeon HD4200 <-- Bad for gaming
    Geforce 9300 <-- Bad for gaming
    Geforce 260m <-- Good for gaming
    Radeon HD3870 <-- Good for gaming

    Hope this helps.

    -Wolf sends
  3. Yes, i did confuse the concepts, but I think the message is sound, heh. Is a laptop videocard still called a discrete card? My laptop language is innefficient, but my PC lingo is current!
  4. Hmm interesting. Thank you both very much for the information. I was just making sure that "Discrete" would be basically the same performance as "Dedicated". I know integrated is terrible, thats what I'm running now and it makes me want to throw my laptop against a wall trying to get anything done on it gaming wise, as fun as watch a slideshow is ha.

    Well thanks again guys, everybody on here is always so helpful!

  5. Well, if you know some of the cards in the laptops you are considering you could post them and we'll have a look at which would be best.
  6. Well, I have been looking at different laptops. However, the one I think I have decided on is the Toshiba Qosmio X505-Q870.

    The video card is NVIDIA GeForce GTS 360M. The confusing part is that it says

    1GB GDDR5 discrete graphics memory
    Plus up to 1274MB dynamically allocated shared graphics memory using NVIDIA® TurboCache™ technology.
    Total Available Graphics memory 2298MB

    Its a pricey item so I want to make sure that the video card, along with the rest of the laptop, will be able to maintain playable game performance for years to come before I put that much cash into it.
  7. The part about the card means that it has 1gb memory on the card, but can borrow from the system memory if needed.
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