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Ssd vs graphics card

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June 20, 2012 2:34:57 AM


pls help me with this,


I am debating between an ultrabook with dual-core i7/i5 processors with ssd but no dedicated graphics adapter (with 4G of RAM max, onboard)

against

regular laptops with quad-core i7/i5 processors with traditional hard drive (HDD) running 5400-7200 rpm (up to 8G of RAM, two slots)


Which one is better in general? I use it mostly Office, the Internet and some games (and some basic Photoshop manipulation and stat packages like STATA for school)

I heard that since ultrabook has only built-in graphics, it slows down the processor and RAM since it's shared also for video.

I understand that SSD beats HDD hands down but I need capacity and currently for laptops it maxed out at 1TB and only Alienware and Mac Book Pro offers similar configurations. What I am asking is, for my use, is it better to buy an ultrabook or a regular laptop, as configured above?


Thanks,

Jeff

More about : ssd graphics card

a c 147 U Graphics card
June 20, 2012 7:38:35 PM

If you play games, get a real laptop with a dedicated video card.
June 20, 2012 11:19:14 PM

Unless you're going to go the whole 9 yards and get a truly gaming-capable laptop (and commit to the expensive price tag), then you're always better off getting the SSD. I would say 95% of the frustrations of laptops are traceable to the slow hard drives that are usually installed.

And just to clarify, having an integrated GPU will not "slow down" the CPU in CPU tasks.

Without you telling us what the specific laptops are that you're choosing between, it's tough to decide solely on SSD vs. no SSD.
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June 21, 2012 3:17:34 AM


You are right teh_chem. Here are the 3 models I am seriously considering getting, all Ivy-bridge (I am looking for one to replace my current laptop, i5-430M, 2.27 Gz with turbo boost to 2.53 Gz, 8 G of 1333 Mhz RAM, 500G HDD running at 7200 RPM, and ATI Radeon HD 5145)

(1)
Asus Zenbook Prime UX 31A, i7-3517U,[ultra-low voltage dual-core] 4G of RAM (MAX) at 1333 Mhz, integrated graphics (Intel HD Graphics 4000), 256 G SSD (which some reviews claim to be somewhat slower in comparsion to others), and IPS display.

(2)
Asus N56VM, i7-3610 QM [quad-core, 2.3 Gz with turbo boost to 3.3 Gz], 8G of RAM (MAX, 1333 or 1600 Mhz I am unsure, as I heard there is little difference except in gaming), Nvidia Geforce GT 630M with 2G DDR3, 1 TB HDD running at 5400 RPM, full HD display.

or
(3)
Macbook Pro, i7 (quad-core at 2.3 Gz with turb boost to 3.3 Gz, unsure of the exact i7 processor number, as it's unavailable from Apple's website), 8G of RAM running at 1600 Mhz, 256G of SSD, Nvidia Geforce GT 650M with 1G GDDR5, with retina display.

btw (1) is 13.3" and (2)(3) are 15" models.

I don't know enough to install my own SSD on a laptop so basically I get what I buy, except adding more or replacing the RAM.

My impression is

(1) ASUS UX31A is an i7, but it's ultra-low voltage and only dual core, so its performance won't really outshine an i5 too much, except having a larger level 3 cache. The lack of dedicated graphics card is also somewhat a concern as I sometimes watch 1080p movies [which requires decoding] and some basic editing in Photoshop CS4. Cheaper than MBP but more than Asus N56VM.

(2) Asus N56VM has a quad-core i7, but the graphics card is low-end and the hhd is slow (5400 RPM), but it's the most inexpensive of the pack but also the heaviest (can't really compare Asus Ux31A to MBP since one is 13.3" and the other is 15" but still, both lighter)

(3) MBP with Retina display is the same as Asus N56VM but it replaces its slow hhd with SSD, with much-lauded display, but I don't know Apple and if I get it, I will have to uninstall Mac OX or make it dual boot, and it really is the most expensive of all.


With that said, all 3 is ok for me to carry around, since my current one weights around the same as the heaviest of them.


Thanks,

Jeff
June 22, 2012 4:36:26 PM

The macbook pro is $2200, plus the extra for OS. The Intel HD 4000 is ok, and can play mw3 at medium settings (That game isn't that computer intensive BTW.) The laptop that I have (Asus G75-RS72) is great for gaming and can play most games at max settings, however it is 17 inch and weighs 8.7 pounds. The batter only lasts 2+ hours. They recently dropped the price on xoticpc.com and the starting price is $1459. There is a G55, with a 15 inch screen, that still weighs about the same and has the same battery life. The G55-RS71 starts at $1309 and has the same processor and ram as the MBP, but the battery lasts 5 hours less, but has a better graphics card. You can add a SSD if you customize on xoticpc.com. The cooling is much better on the Asus than the macbook pro, as it cools through the back and not a slit in between the keyboard and screen.
Here are links to the G75 and G55 (There are different models of the G55 and G75, and there is even a G75 with 3D capabilities (The G75VW-DS73-3D))
www.xoticpc.com/asus-g55vwrs71-p-4474.html
www.xoticpc.com/asus-g75vwrs72-eta-midjune-p-4475.html
July 2, 2012 2:06:24 PM

Any I5 or I7 ivy bridge laptop will do what you are looking for. The HD 4000 integrated video is fairly robust. I'd recommend you look more into other features like a larger or higher density screen, SSD or expansion slots before you look for a dedicated graphics card that jacks up the price fast. Newer laptops can be configured with a larger HDD and an Msata SSD boot drive or enhancement drive(HDD cache).


As for installing Windows on the Mac...except for games that isn't necessary. OSX works quite well with minimal learning curve.
July 12, 2012 3:13:56 AM

teh_chem,


Can I ask why the CPU isn't slowed down if there is not dedicated graphics card?

Would it be more correct to say that the system is slowed down then?

What I heard sounded logical, since there is no dedicated graphics card, RAM must be shared between CPU usage and video usage, and since there is less memory for CPU usage, more access to the pagefile, which means slower response time.

Except for games, what benefits can I reap from a decent graphics card?


Thanks,

Jeff
July 12, 2012 3:15:44 AM

Yes Jimmy, but the Asus G series are simply too heavy for on the road, but thanks.

Jeff
July 12, 2012 3:45:52 AM

On-chip graphics do have a graphics processor, it's just on die with the processor. They do increase heat but unless one of the other is maxed they won't effect the other.
July 12, 2012 4:01:59 AM


Can you please elaborate? I am a little confused.

Thanks,


Jeff
July 12, 2012 4:36:59 AM

The cpu has compartments; integer computing, floating point computing, memory subsystems, IO systems, and graphics. The graphics has it's own drivers and own pathways although it shares system memory (which slows it down some). None of them directly effect each other, like the multiple cores of the CPU, unless they need something from the others. At some point in the future, there probably won't be much left on the motherboard besides the connections to the hard drives and keyboard/mouse.
July 13, 2012 12:33:47 AM


Understood, so having a dedicated graphics card (hence processor) can (perhaps not always, depending on my uses) relieve the CPU to other tasks, which can effectively improve the system's performance, right?

Jeff
July 13, 2012 2:20:54 AM

Not necessarily. The graphics core inside a current CPU is a complete graphics processor separate from the CPU. While they share memory, their clock cycles aren't directly linked and their functionality almost completely independent. These aren't the on board graphics from 15 years ago that used main CPU cycles to process graphics.
July 13, 2012 8:10:34 AM


Ok, I am a little confused now. Maybe my computer science professor didn't make it clear, but let's hypothesize 2 scenarios, based on uses.

Scenario 1, word processing, net surfing, mp3 decoding, video playback up to 1080p or blue ray (not necessarily 1080p), Adobe Captivate 4, basic cropping & macro automation in Photoshop CS6, Acrobat 8 Pro, and Cyberlink PowerDirector 10 (basically a scaled down Adobe Premiere). Would I realize much benefit from the use of a dedicated graphics adapter versus one that's on-board, and a brief explanation will be much appreciated.

Scenario 2, including all uses in Scenario 1, plus Adobe Premiere Pro CS 6, which is quite memory and processor intensive in my opinion. Would this scenario justify having a dedicated graphics adapter then, and again, a brief explanation would be wonderful.

My assumption is that, in both cases, a SSD would makes the greatest difference (since my current drive runs at 7200rpm, fairly fast for a laptop I guess), followed by a dedicated graphics adapter since Photoshop and Premiere and possibly even 720p/1080p/blueray playback are video-intensive, followed by more ram (I just upped my 2G on the laptop to 8G and realize a "huge" difference), followed by a faster processor, since among all the things I do, only Photoshop is programmed to utilize the dual core i5. Am I fairly correct in my guesses?




Jeff
July 13, 2012 12:58:44 PM

apisorder said:
Ok, I am a little confused now. Maybe my computer science professor didn't make it clear, but let's hypothesize 2 scenarios, based on uses.

Scenario 1, word processing, net surfing, mp3 decoding, video playback up to 1080p or blue ray (not necessarily 1080p), Adobe Captivate 4, basic cropping & macro automation in Photoshop CS6, Acrobat 8 Pro, and Cyberlink PowerDirector 10 (basically a scaled down Adobe Premiere). Would I realize much benefit from the use of a dedicated graphics adapter versus one that's on-board, and a brief explanation will be much appreciated.

Scenario 2, including all uses in Scenario 1, plus Adobe Premiere Pro CS 6, which is quite memory and processor intensive in my opinion. Would this scenario justify having a dedicated graphics adapter then, and again, a brief explanation would be wonderful.

My assumption is that, in both cases, a SSD would makes the greatest difference (since my current drive runs at 7200rpm, fairly fast for a laptop I guess), followed by a dedicated graphics adapter since Photoshop and Premiere and possibly even 720p/1080p/blueray playback are video-intensive, followed by more ram (I just upped my 2G on the laptop to 8G and realize a "huge" difference), followed by a faster processor, since among all the things I do, only Photoshop is programmed to utilize the dual core i5. Am I fairly correct in my guesses?

Jeff


Most of those programs are coded to take advantage of multiple CPU cores. But at the same time, a lot of Adobe video and photo-editing software is coded to allow for GPU-assisted processing. Keep in mind that intel has done a bit of work supporting gpu-acceleration with their HD3000 (and higher) chipsets via driver updates. One thing is called "quicksync" that's used in video-conversion/transcoding on intel HD3K/4K. This is supported in Cyberlink products, so you can see a boost in video-processing just via the HD4K chipset. However, I don't think that the intel HD4K chipset is yet supported by Adobe for gpu-accelerated tasks (IIRC, they dropped open-GL support since it was buggy and problematic, and have started supported open-CL for AMD video cards. Nvidia cards still support CUDA-acceleration in adobe products. open-CL is not yet supported by adobe for HD4K).

What were the graphics cards available to you?

July 13, 2012 5:53:09 PM

Scenario 1 any ultrabook would be barely tolerable. I am not sure I'd classify that as basic Photoshop use. No ultrabook has a 1080p screen so I assume you mean exporting to a TV or other device.

Scenario 2 would be intolerable on any but the most expensive laptops but if you already have a laptop, a desktop would achieve the same performance for much less. If cost isn't a big issue, an i7 laptop with 8G ram, an SSD, a discreet video adapter and a 1080p screen are available. Look for a laptop with a 7200RPM drive and an MSata slot for SSD.

Getting an SSD large enough to do video editing is probably something you will have to customize into a new laptop.
July 16, 2012 8:23:45 AM


Hi teh-chem, it's just one of those entry-level cards from ATI (mobile Radeon series). Which ATI/Nvidia graphics cards do you recommend for my uses, scenario 1 & 2?

Thanks,

Jeff
July 16, 2012 8:32:49 AM


If that's the case, with the graphics core inside a modern CPU being a complete graphics processor, would advantage would I get from a dedicated graphics card then? To my understanding, the dedicated graphics card usually have multi-core, and sometimes a huge array of them, so a performance boost will be realized if fast rendering is required, as in modern games. Is my understanding correct?

I am still a little confused, or perhaps I am misunderstanding something: Isn't it true that buses on motherboards usually run much faster than DDR3 RAM (which are installed on my laptop), so wouldn't a dedicated graphics card that use DDR3 memory actually run "slower" than the integrated graphics processor within the CPU, since the later uses the system bus directly? I also don't understand why you would need 2, even 3G or more video memory, commonly available on graphics card adapters using DDR3 or GDDR5 memory, for anything, unless it's extremely 3D-intensive games. Are there other uses? (perhaps Blueray?)

Jeff
July 16, 2012 8:39:24 AM



Silvermink,

May I ask why you recommend getting a 7200RPM drive in conjunction with a Msata slot for SSD, as opposed to just having a Sata3 SSD? Is there an advantage? (I do understand that current SSD drives, besides the cost factor, simply provide smaller storage options i.e HDD still are larger when it comes to capacity, but of course, their performance pales if compared to SSD)

Is Msata necessarily slower than Sata3 when it comes to SSD?



Jeff
July 16, 2012 12:32:25 PM

SSD drives (at least consumer versions) are currently limited to 512GB and those are quite expensive. If you are using more than just a couple programs plus video and picture files, this will quickly fill up. Another option is to run a laptop with a dual drive configuration but I don't know if they still make those. Msata is capable of running Sata3 if the laptop supports it. If you have a USB3 or networked storage that you use for your files, you might get away with a smaller drive configuration on the laptop.
July 16, 2012 1:31:10 PM


Hi Silvermink,

You are right: they still make laptops with dual drives (Dell's Alienware series and Gigabyte's P-series, for example), but they are usually a bit too heavy for on-the-road.

It's nice to know that Msata can run at Sata3 speed if the laptop supports, although to my understanding Msata offerings also tend to be limited.

I think your suggestion is wonderful, to use a laptop with a smaller drive config and use external storage. But consider that USB3 runs slower than Sata3 (right?) and that portable SSD drives are neither common nor inexpensive, wouldn't it be better to get a SSD drive as large as possible (256G or 512G), then if necessary, supplemented with 7200RPM Hdd via USB3 connection? (as opposed to buying only 128G SSD, say?)

Jeff
July 16, 2012 2:56:21 PM

I don't know of any laptop configurations with e-sata maybe you can get an add-on card. USB 3 (or for the more exotic Thunderbolt) external drive should suit you fine. 256GB drives have gotten a lot more reasonable in price. I wouldn't try to customize a laptop with one (they screw you) so you'd have to be willing to install the OS yourself. If the laptop comes with a restore DVD this shouldn't be too hard. If you're only using the external in one place a network version would work too, or USB connected router would give multiple computers access to it.

Best solution

July 16, 2012 5:25:12 PM
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apisorder said:
Hi teh-chem, it's just one of those entry-level cards from ATI (mobile Radeon series). Which ATI/Nvidia graphics cards do you recommend for my uses, scenario 1 & 2?

Thanks,

Jeff

The problem is, only one or perhaps two different discrete cards are usually offered by a particular laptop manufacturer--you'd have to let us know which ones they are, so we can make a good suggestion as to whether it's worth it. For example, see this thread for someone asking about the discrete GT520 vs. the integrated HD4000: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/353960-33-4000-gt520 Even though the GT520 is a "discrete" card, it's still slower than the IGP in higher-end Ivy Bridge processors.

apisorder said:
If that's the case, with the graphics core inside a modern CPU being a complete graphics processor, would advantage would I get from a dedicated graphics card then? To my understanding, the dedicated graphics card usually have multi-core, and sometimes a huge array of them, so a performance boost will be realized if fast rendering is required, as in modern games. Is my understanding correct?

I am still a little confused, or perhaps I am misunderstanding something: Isn't it true that buses on motherboards usually run much faster than DDR3 RAM (which are installed on my laptop), so wouldn't a dedicated graphics card that use DDR3 memory actually run "slower" than the integrated graphics processor within the CPU, since the later uses the system bus directly? I also don't understand why you would need 2, even 3G or more video memory, commonly available on graphics card adapters using DDR3 or GDDR5 memory, for anything, unless it's extremely 3D-intensive games. Are there other uses? (perhaps Blueray?)

Jeff

The dedicated card would only benefit you if it's faster than the integrated HD4000. If it's not faster, then it gets you no benefit. Integreated GPUs also have many processing "cores." The number doesn't matter, it's about how well it utilizes them.

DDR3 is currently the fastest "system" RAM. GDDR is faster--GDDR5 is the fastest right now, but only on graphics cards (hence the "G"). The thing is, as you go down in terms of graphical processing capability, you don't need as fast of RAM--because the cores can't process the data fast enough, you're not limited by the speed of the RAM, you're limited by the speed of the cores. Like if you're in heavy traffic, you can only go as fast as the slowest car. In this case, it's the graphical cores. So having a 1000-horsepower car wouldn't let you go any faster than the slowest car in front of you.

Also, the reason you'd want more graphical memory is if you're working with higher and higher monitor resolutions. The more pixels you need to support, the more memory you need to hold all of the pixel info. No native laptop monitor will need 2GB or 3GB of memory--and you're right, it's really only for gaming.

apisorder said:
Hi Silvermink,

You are right: they still make laptops with dual drives (Dell's Alienware series and Gigabyte's P-series, for example), but they are usually a bit too heavy for on-the-road.

It's nice to know that Msata can run at Sata3 speed if the laptop supports, although to my understanding Msata offerings also tend to be limited.

I think your suggestion is wonderful, to use a laptop with a smaller drive config and use external storage. But consider that USB3 runs slower than Sata3 (right?) and that portable SSD drives are neither common nor inexpensive, wouldn't it be better to get a SSD drive as large as possible (256G or 512G), then if necessary, supplemented with 7200RPM Hdd via USB3 connection? (as opposed to buying only 128G SSD, say?)

Jeff

USB 3.0 supports speeds up to ~4.8Gbps. If it can do full-speed, that is 600 megaBYTES/s. Even with the overheads associated with USB, it's still faster than what any current single drive can support, so you'd be fine speed-wise with USB 3.0. Keep in mind, USB 2.0 WILL bottleneck current hard drives, even "slower" 5400 rpm platter drives.

IMHO, if you want portability, then you don't want to lug around another hard drive. You can easily get away with USB sticks (or even SD cards) if you don't need to constantly transfer massive files to/from it, and use a moderate sized SSD as your main system drive. If it were me, I'd go with a 256GB drive, and rely on either a USB stick or SD card for my "storage" (i.e., media files I want to play, or stuff like that--not for files that I'd be constantly "working" on).
July 17, 2012 12:32:33 AM


Thanks teh_chem, for your detailed, useful explanations.

When I am more certain about which laptops I am really into buying, and know which graphic cards offerings are available, I will probably add to the thread for additional expert advice such as yours.

Jeff
July 17, 2012 12:32:55 AM

Best answer selected by apisorder.
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