Question on switchable graphics


I am shopping for my first laptop purchase ever. I've got a good idea of what I want, but find myself stuck on a graphics question.

For the most part, my laptop will be plugged into the wall, and I would like a discrete graphics card for gaming. However, when I go on vacation or what not, I won't be gaming at all, and would prefer the longer battery life of integrated graphics.

Now, from what I understand, Intel's Arrandale processors have integrated graphics built in. So my question is, if I get a laptop with one of these processors and a discrete GPU, will I be able to turn off the discrete GPU when I need battery life?

Before I go any further, the laptop I'm looking at is a Toshiba A500-ST6644 that would have:

HM55 Express chipset
Intel Core i5-520m processor
Nvidia GeForce 310M GPU

From what I have managed to find on the net, this setup should support switchable graphics, but I also saw some info that some OEMs disable the IGP if you have a discrete GPU? I am getting very confused! I'm hoping this is an easy question for those that already own laptops. :p

I am NOT looking for switchable graphics that switch on the fly, like Nvidia's Optimus technology. Just simply being able to disable the GPU in the BIOS or Device Manager when I go on vacation is all I need. Is this common, to be able to disable the discrete GPU and use the i5s IGP?

I hope this question isn't too dumb.. Hopefully I won't have to decide between an integrated or discrete GPU!
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More about question switchable graphics
  1. Hello and welcome to the forums :)
    About the discrete GPU,the answer is yes,you can disable it when you need more battery life and use the integrated one.
    Fill the FAQ first,so we can help you finding a good laptop
  2. Thanks for the replies :)

    When I'm on vacation, I will be able to plug it in at the destination. However, I would like to be able to use it in airports for browsing the internet, and maybe watch a movie on the plane, without it dieing on me. The reason I started this thread is because I often see buyers debating between the power of discrete graphics, or longer battery life. But if the discrete graphics can be turned off, even if it requires a reboot, my decision of whether to get a discrete GPU, or not, is easy.

    I do have a laptop I'm interested in, a Toshiba A500-ST6644 that I would customize. Any comments on that laptop? I will post the FAQ though, if anyone could recommend another.

    1_What is your budget? Around $1000

    2_What is the size of the notebook that you are considering? 15" - 17"

    3_What screen resolution do you want? Not to picky on this, won't be watching blue ray; color, brightness, and contrast matter more

    4_Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop? Something in between. I have a desktop, but would like a decent computer while away from home.

    5_How much battery life do you need? The longer the better :kaola: 3 hours would be the minimum.

    6_Do you want to play games with your laptop? If so then please list the games that you want to with the settings that you want for these games. (Low,Medium or High)? Yes. Mostly older games like Call of Duty, GTA4 etc. When Final Fantasy XIV comes out, I will probably want to play that, but its an MMORPG so I wouldn't mind playing it at low settings while away from home.

    7_What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo / Video editing,watching movies, Etc.) Watching movies, internet video.

    8_How much storage (H.D.D Capacity) do you need? 200 gig+. I know, thats small :p

    9_If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.

    10_How long do you want to keep your laptop? 4-5 years

    11_What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ? CD + DVD ROM

    12_Please tell us about the brands that you prefer to buy from them and the brands that you don't like and explain the reasons. Prefer Toshiba and Asus since they seem to have some of the best reliability from what I've read. Don't like Dell or HP because of what friends who own them have said.

    13_What country do you live in? USA

    14_Please tell us any additional information if needed. The laptop I'm buying is going to be used in my house in addition to two desktops I own. Most high end tasks like playing the newest games and photo/video editing will be done on my desktop. I would still like a decent laptop that I can take with me from room to room to do less intensive tasks, or when I go over to other peoples houses. When on longer trips, I would like to be able to browse the internet at airports, and maybe watch a movie on a plane ride.
    Would be good,and its much better than the Toshiba one(which has an Intel VGA as default)
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