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Intel Integrated + Discrete Card?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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October 20, 2011 11:01:27 PM

Hello, everyone. I have recently discovered some problems with my computer. I'm currently suspecting the CPU and/or Motherboard. Memory tests "stall out" but return no errors, CPU burn-in tests cause a reboot, and the PSU tests clean.

I currently use an nVidia GT 470 for my primary and secondary monitors and an nVidia 6600GT to run my third monitor. Assuming I will end up having to replace my core components, I will probably be getting a Sandy Bridge CPU and a new motherboard and memory set to go with it. I'm wondering if I can get the same or better performance by replacing the 6600GT with integrated graphics. That's assuming it is even possible to run the Core i5/i7 integrated graphics alongside a discrete GPU. Is it a terrible sacrifice to CPU power to do this? (I'm upgrading from a Core 2 Quad, so it will probably be a huge boost in performance for me either way.) Any thoughts, opinions, corrections, and recommendations are very welcome. Thank you in advance for taking the time to help me. :) 
a b U Graphics card
a b à CPUs
October 21, 2011 1:33:11 AM

Intel HD 3000 is pretty low on the scale and hybrid SLI is only for AMD. So you'd have to get a GPU anyways. Sorry
a c 251 U Graphics card
a c 214 à CPUs
October 21, 2011 1:45:32 AM

Intergrated graphics is only intended for low end use , game play would suffer terribly for it.
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October 21, 2011 1:51:11 AM

@samuelspark - There are at least a few H67 motherboards which support using the integrated graphics and a discrete card at the same time without being hybrid SLI (or rather Crossfire). Gigabyte makes a few.

@inzone - I wouldn't be playing any games on the monitor hooked up to the integrated graphics. I realize it's still "low end", but I'm wondering if it would actually be better than a seven year old 6600 GT.

FYI - The reason I'm trying to figure this out is because boards with multiple PCI Express x16 spots which can run simultaneously at x16 tend to be considerably more expensive than otherwise nearly-identical boards which lack this feature.
a c 139 U Graphics card
a c 84 à CPUs
October 21, 2011 1:51:53 AM

I'm pretty sure that you can't use integrated graphics along side a discrete card anyway. Some of the AMD IGPs can do hybrid crossfire with the lower end AMD cards, but you can't use intel's IGP with any discrete card. If you are using the 6600GT to run a third monitor, and you are not using the third monitor for gaming, just keep the 6600GT, it will be enough to drive a basic display. If you want to game across all three monitors, you have to look at SLI if you want to go with nvidia cards. Only AMD cards can run three monitors off a single card.

Edit: PCI-E bandwidth will not effect performance on a 6600GT. The card simply isn't powerful enough to saturate PCI-E 2.0 bandwidth. Even the GTX 470 you have probably wouldn't saturate PCI-E 2.0 x8, let alone x16.
October 21, 2011 1:59:46 AM

Well, I've seen reports elsewhere on the internet of many people getting integrated/discrete working side-by-side, but you can't believe everything you read on the internet. So unless someone here says definitively otherwise, I'll take everyone's word for it that it's still not possible.

The 6600GT has issues with some 2D apps, unfortunately. My Zune software lags like crazy when it's on that display because it uses fancy animations. Even HD video seems a bit poor. If I'm stuck with a card I will probably just buy another newer card, I suppose.

Thanks all for the help, especially the last comment about the PCI-E bandwidth.
a c 156 U Graphics card
a c 126 à CPUs
October 21, 2011 2:58:58 AM

The 6600 is about equal to the hd 3000, and yes some mobos can use the igpu and discrete at the same time with monitors on each. It won't game together but it's useful for multitasking. This is only possible on SB afaik, but getting a mobo with 2 pcie slots isn't too expensive. This is my usual suggestion for a budget build. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... You do not lose cpu performance as the igpu is separate but since it is integrated on the cpu, the cpu creates more heat; but nothing the stock heatsink can't handle. Though I would recommend a k for overclocking and an aftermarket heatsink, even if you use the auto oc function, it'll help to "prolong" its useful gaming life.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-graphics-card-...
October 21, 2011 3:27:23 AM

Thanks, k! That link could be incredibly helpful in the future.

And that motherboard looks incredible, almost too good to be true at that price. I was looking at two ASUS boards with very similar specs (minus a SATA III and USB 3.0 port here and there but otherwise mostly the same) and they were 2 - 3x the price. I think it would be worth saving the $$ and spending the savings on a new SSD.

Anyway, I can't make it crash and die today and it's running fine, but all of this information will help me as I prepare for what feels like the inevitable. Maybe unplugging and reconnecting my power supply somehow fixed a voltage problem caused by some tiny piece of dust or something, I have no idea. Thanks again for the help.
a b U Graphics card
October 21, 2011 3:39:19 AM

Why not just go with an AMD HD 6870/6950/6970 - > you'll get eyefinity and can run three monitors right off the single card.
a c 156 U Graphics card
a c 126 à CPUs
October 21, 2011 3:44:22 AM

It sounds like you may or may not buy something but before you actually buy parts, I'd recommend posting in the build section to help pick all your parts. The hierarchy chart is updated monthly in the "best gpu for the money" articles, so in the future, you'll have to look at latest article for an updated chart. There is also a "best cpu for the money" article. Just a fyi.
October 21, 2011 4:14:34 AM

For that reason and current performance, I may consider going AMD if I do get a new video card in the future, but for now the GTX 470 runs everything I play (which is basically just TF2, Orcs Must Die, and Portal 2) at full settings very smoothly.

Sure, I'd be happy to get some feedback on the build once I get there. Now that things aren't failing tests, I'm secretly hoping this box will hold up at least until Windows 8 is released. Thank you for the suggestions!
a b U Graphics card
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October 21, 2011 4:47:46 AM

Wait, how do you know the PSU tests clean? Because it's usually the PSU.
a c 376 U Graphics card
a b à CPUs
October 21, 2011 4:54:37 AM

Aren't Z68 motherboards all capable of using the on-chip Sandy Bridge GPU along with a discrete card?
a b U Graphics card
a b à CPUs
October 21, 2011 4:54:43 AM

Okay...there are A LOT of people here spreading misinformation about stuff they don't know about.

You CAN absolutely use Sandy Bridge IGP graphics output at the same time as discrete output. I am currently doing it right now.
a b U Graphics card
a b à CPUs
October 21, 2011 4:56:14 AM

You just leave the integrated enabled and then install Lucid Virtu and you can output to whatever monitors you want. Your primary gaming monitor should use the discrete graphics or you will take a 3% fps hit though. This requires a Z68 1155 motherboard that's Virtu capable.

EDIT: As far as the 6600GT v. IGP for the third monitor. You'll use less power using IGP. Since neither is involved in the gaming, it won't make any difference what their capabilities are. Coincidentally, they're both at about the same level: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-performance-...

I agree that there's no reason to upgrade from a GTX 470. I really want a GTX 560Ti or Radeon 6950 2GB, but there's nothing I can't play on high w/ AA right now so why waste the money?
October 21, 2011 6:15:16 AM

Thank you for clarifying/confirming that, guys. Really appreciate it.

As far as the PSU goes, I hooked up a tester (Dr. Power II) and the voltages were steady. The voltages also appear fine in the Intel Desktop Control Center during testing. I'm using a Corsair HX1000W (used to run two EVGA 9800GX2 SSC's in SLI along with 8 HDDs), and it's a pretty darn good power supply and is more than enough for the current build - so I guess I shouldn't be surprised about that.

Thank you for the thoughts on using less power with the IGP. I say this after admitting to using a completely unnecessary 1000W PSU, but every little bit counts? The info on Lucid Virtu is also very helpful.

a b U Graphics card
a b à CPUs
October 21, 2011 6:36:32 AM

Corsair HX1000 is fine. I was worried you had a Raidmax or something terrible, which is usually the case.

This review is very helpful for explaining the various setups you can have with Virtu: http://benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_conten...

You'll need to hookup to your discrete AND your IGP though to use three screens. So the power savings will just be what you get between the 6600 GT and that--probably 35W idle.

Back to your memory: Memory tests "stall out"? I'm pretty sure if they freeze, that indicates a memory error. Boot to Memtest86+ from a flashstick and run it twice or so (overnight if you want). If you pass that, your memory is fine. If you don't--then it's your memory. You might still be able to pass it after you've failed if you loosen timings, speed (MHz), or up the voltage.
a c 376 U Graphics card
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October 21, 2011 2:05:14 PM

I thought the point of Virtu was for the system to switch between the IGP and discrete cards as necessary. I could be wrong I guess I don't think it should be necessary just to run both at once.
a b U Graphics card
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October 21, 2011 3:24:24 PM

Virtu: I can't verify yet that it allows 3 monitors with 2 on GPU + 1 on IGP. I'll try to check that tomorrow. I'm certain it allows output from both at once though. I just don't want you relying on me assuming that is the case before I can double check it.
a c 156 U Graphics card
a c 126 à CPUs
October 21, 2011 4:53:50 PM

Virtu is used for virtualizing the igpu or discrete. It is for using the igpu through the discrete card output or the discrete card through the mobo output. If a monitor is plugged into the output there's no need to virtualize it, it's on like if the other gpu wasn't there, they act independently from one another. For this reason, h67/h61 have been able to use both without virtu, virtu is not needed on z68 either in this case. Hd3000 can support 2 monitors, and 470 can support 2 monitors, so you can actually have 4 monitors.
October 21, 2011 4:58:44 PM

It's unlikely that all four DIMMs are bad, and they were "stalling out" no matter which one was left in and tested. To me, that could indicate a problem with the CPU or MB. Unfortunately, they can both cause errors and stalls in memtest86.

I used to work in desktop support and we would occasionally find that CPU's / motherboards were failing by testing memory that we knew was good on a computer that failed all memory. For example you could run 8 DIMMs on 8 different PCs, have them all pass on those PCs, then put that RAM in the PC with the bad CPU/MB and it will fail them all. Then you replace the MB or CPU (trial and error) and find that all sets pass. We actually had to get the RAM to fail in multiple systems to have it replaced under our warranty agreement, otherwise we knew it would probably pass once it got back to Gateway and we'd be charged for it.

Sadly, I don't have the luxury of extra systems, RAM, CPUs, or MBs sitting on a shelf here at home. Fortunately, my plan is to replace all three if any one is bad and can no longer be used, so it really doesn't matter which is the problem as long as it's not the power supply. :) 

Thanks for the further info on virtu!
a b U Graphics card
a b à CPUs
October 23, 2011 11:27:38 PM

Well, let me know if you're selling your Core 2 Quad. Although it sounds like it'd be worth more if you could verify that it's not causing memory problems.
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