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Choice of cheap laptops for gaming

hi, i plan to buy a laptop at costco for around $625 there are dells n hp's with i5 or i7 with 6 or 8G ramm. my question regards the graphics cards.
they offer 2 graphics cards:
intel HD Graphics 3000, 1696mb memory
Radeon HD Discrete class using 3061 Mb memory.

my thinking is the higher the memory the better the card or am i wrong? however based upon what i've read there doesn't seem to be much support for the intel graphics cards for gaming. or should i avoid both these choices.
i am a CIVFANATIC, (civilization4&5), total war series etc.
a few gamers have suggested buying used sony vaio i5 for $6 or 700 for gaming, but ikinda like the idea of 2yr warranty.
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  1. The graphics memory has very little to do with how powerful the card is. That would be determined by which graphics chipset is being used. The one is intel HD 3000, the other is some radeon..but which one?
    There really is no such thing as a cheap gaming laptop. Even the mid called "gaming laptops" leave a lot to be desired when compared to even a low end true gaming desktop

    You need to find more about the "discrete class". That's integrated graphics (the intel is too), but the amd on board graphics blow away anything Intel puts out. There are several laptops in that price range with discrete graphics, like the dell 14r. Take your time, narrow them down to the features you want, then get the one with the best graphics card AND screen. Get some time looking at it before deciding. Loved my dell at first, but the track pad grew to annoy me. It was offset left of center, and the heal of my thumb would constantly move the cursor if I didnt turn the sensitivity down to less than I liked it.
  3. Well, I must say that you should not overlook what AMD is offering for laptop gaming. JohnA is right.

    Anything with Llano written on its case should do just fine with any output screen laptop provides.

    Plus, they're cheaper, and more efficient.

    However, if you insist on using Intel's offering you should choose the one with Radeon on it. Intel's GPU will going to be your headache on the moment you buy the one's with it.
  4. Best answer
    nizanthor said:

    Radeon HD Discrete class using 3061 Mb memory.

    That generally means a laptop with one of the AMD Llano A series APUs (accelerated processing unit). Llano APUs have graphics cores that are faster than the Intel HD 3000. However, the CPU core in Llano is weaker than the Intel CPU. The Intel HD 3000 is basically equal to a Radeon hD 5450. The graphics core in a Llano APU are roughly equal to a Radeon HD 5550 for a Llano A4 APU and a Radeon HD 5570 in a Llano A8 APU. The graphics core in a Llano A6 would be somewhere in between.

    Most games are dependent on the graphics core rather than on the CPU, however, Civ 5 is one of those games that benefits from both a strong CPU and strong graphics core; Skyrim is another example. The CPU core in a Llano APU is roughly between 15% - 20% slower than the CPU core in an Intel Sandy Bridge Core i3/i5/i7 CPU assume they have the same clock speed.

    If you go with Intel you will have a strong CPU but a weak graphics core. If you go with Llano you will have a weak CPU, but a strong graphics core. For gaming purposes, between these you want to opt for the laptop with the Llano APU because the stronger graphics core with a weaker CPU core will still provide better performance than the reverse situation.
  5. Best answer selected by nizanthor.
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