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Discrete Graphics Card vs. integrated graphics card

Jul 17, 2006 8:25AM PDT

Hi all,

So been looking at anything and everything for laptops and have managed to narrow down my choices to the following:
Dell XPS1210
Dell 1405
Toshiba Satellite U200
Toshiba Satellite M100

To be honest, the best price for the most features is the 1405, coming in with all the upgrades I want at just below $1300. The only negative I see in my brain is the 1405 is much heavier than the XPS1210, but you get a bigger screen.

BUT, lots of people have been talking to me about integrated versus discreet graphics cards and that is where I have a question, as the 1405 does not have an option to upgrade to a discreet card. Many people have told me I don't want an integrated graphics card and that it will be miserable once Vista comes out and I wanted to get some opinions. I am not a gamer and do mostly email/internet/documents. I do view photos on my computer, but am not a photoshop editing junkie. So the question is, do I really need a discreet graphics card?

Advice? Thanks!!

Discussion is locked

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No games?
Jul 17, 2006 8:34AM PDT

Then the remaining item is Vista's EYE CANDY. Must you have this?

It is optional and you trade off power, battery time if you get the dedicated GPU.


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I never recommend an integrated graphics solution

Even if the person isn't a gamer.

The Intel GMA 950 can handle AERO Glass Interface of Vista, but because it steals 224 MB of the system RAM to make its own VRAM, it slows down the computer a lot !

For Vista, I always recommend at least an ATi Mobility Radeon X1400 ( or the nVIDIA GeForce Go 6400 ) to have more fun when AERO Glass will be on the computer.

The M1210 looks very nice.

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Thanks, food for thought
Jul 17, 2006 2:22PM PDT


I hear ya, but with the 1405, it comes at such a bargain, that I can get 2gigs of RAM and will probably not care if the graphics card steals 224 MB RAM.

And yes the 1210 looks very nice, but the pricetag is quiate a bit higher, why I was leaning toward the 1405.

Thanks for the advice. I'll sleep on this one.

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E1405, not so good
Jul 18, 2006 1:36AM PDT

I felt the same way and got

2ghz dual core
2gb ram
100gb hd @7200rpm
and more

It loads up pretty fast. Much faster than my vaio which has centrino. The GMA 950 is not that good when I saw my cousins GMA 900 which seemed much clearer. The ultrasharp screen has a bad glaring problem. The screen is pretty crappy. This screen sucks but other than that I get about 5 hours of battery life almost everytime I use it.

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Thanks for the tips
Jul 18, 2006 4:37AM PDT

Thanks for the tip. Interesting that the GMA 900 clearer than 950, will have to look into that. As to ultrasharp screen, yeah, heard a lot of bad stuff about glare, but heard can get around that, by not getting the true life screen, and instead getting standard one.

Curious what kind of virus stuff do you run? I ask because I'll prob be running McAffee suite, and while I hear its reliable, is a RAM hog.

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Jul 18, 2006 5:33AM PDT

I have that. Standard with the dell. The rest are junk.

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McAfee !

Ark !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Terrible antivirus in the bad sens.

I installed Kaspersky one day ... To boot my system, it takes me the 1/4 of the time ! McAfee is heavy, isn't as good as Kaspersky, F-Secure or BitDefender. It takes a lot of memory, running processes and services that ALL starts at the same time when Windows starts.

Uninstall it !

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Thanks Food for thought
Jul 24, 2006 1:33AM PDT are NOT playing games you do not need a graphics card. You are right the extra RAM will more than compensate for RAM shared by the intergrated graphics chip.

My son played games on my Emachines 3 years ago with the intergrated chip with little problems. When he wanted to play one of the newer games, it would not play well so after 6 months I brought a cheap card. I am SOLD on intergrated graphics after my Emachines and Acer Laptop. Unless of are a gamer.

As for is not out yet so if you buy a machine now you will get XP. And from what I hear, you may not want to upgrade from XP to Vista based on, more RAM requirements, cost for upgrade to Vista, what are the benfits......the jury is still out.

And don't extra slot for graphics means bigger, heavier machine and additional waste of power.

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I will reccomend because...
Jul 17, 2006 9:53PM PDT

Dedicated GPUs eat battery time and make more heat.

We now see laptops with 1 and 2GB RAM which is overkill for non-gamers. I ran a test awhile back where we had 2 identical machines with 512MB and 1GB. For what we were doing (a DVD render) the machine (we would swap RAM) with the 1GB memory finished in 6 hours. The 512MB machine would finish 5 minutes later. Today, with XP, 1GB is more than enough.


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Jul 24, 2006 10:23AM PDT

Hey everyone

What's the difference between an integrated GPU and a discrete GPU, besides sucking battery life, and stealing memory from the RAM? For example, if I had two EXACT video cards from the same company both offering 128MB of VRAM, what would be the difference in performance?

- Nick

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3D Performances

The big difference is in the 3D performances. Performances will be better in a dedicated GPU because it doesn't steal RAM from the system. The RAM is much faster when it is on-board ( on the PCI-E card ). When the GPU must steal RAM from the system RAM, this RAM must pass from the bus to go on the GPU while the on-board VRAM is directly on the GPU.

An integrated will slow the computer because it steals the RAM to make its own VRAM.

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Power/battery time?
Jul 17, 2006 2:20PM PDT


Do you mean I get more power/battery time with the dedicated GPU? And as to Vista's eye candy..hard to know. May want it, may not care. It sucks cause the 1405 is everything I want in a system, and aside from the graphics card, I'd be all over it. Maybe I'll call Dell and see if there's a way to customize and upgrade the graphics card.


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Dedicated GPUs are great for performace but do have
Jul 17, 2006 9:31PM PDT

downsides as well. First they generally use more power than integrated graphics solutions. This results in shorter operating time on batteries and higher operating temperatures....much higher temperatures in the computer. If you don't need the extra graphics horsepower you may want to save a few bucks and reap the efficiency rewards that integrated graphics offer.

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Given the same size battery,
Jul 17, 2006 9:56PM PDT

You get more power (in graphics) and less battery time with the dedicated GPU.

It's a simple tradeoff. Gamers should always get the dedicated GPU. Those that want all possible future Vista EYE CANDY want the GPU.

If you want a cool (temperature) laptop that will give longer times on battery, the integrated video wins.


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Integrated vs Discrete
Dec 27, 2009 1:43PM PST

First, there is no point of this comparison because integrated graphics lose to discrete graphics 75%.
Integrated graphics aren't built for gaming and they are embedded into the motherboard in which they allocate memory from the system ram to use it as vram(video ram). In this case, it takes longer for a integrated graphic card to process. Although, some integrated, specifically some INTEL integrated graphic cards, have mods, tweaks and overclocks(safe)to increase some performance. Cards like Intel GMA 900 and GMA 950 have a overclocker called GMAbooster and is a safe way to overclock. The mobile Intel GMA 950 have 166MHz core clock when the desktop ones have 400MHz and the overclocker brings the core clock speed back to 400MHz since Intel GMA 950 is underclocked to save battery life. Integrated graphics are designed for corporate/business users for any 3D programs. Some games WILL work with integrated graphic cards like Intel GMA 950 and Intel 9xx google group that have released programs to tweak games to be able to run on GMA 950.
Discrete graphics have better performance although they do spend a lot of battery life and also sometimes overheat. It also depends on what discrete graphic card you are going to talk about. Discrete graphics cards have a higher risk rate for overclocking since if you mess up with the overclocking process, you will ruin your card forever. Also, when overclocking discrete graphics, you HAVE to have a cooler for the graphic card or else your card will overheat.
All round, integrated graphics are recommended for LIGHT gamers/corporate or business users and discrete graphics for high end gamers. Both graphic cards are made for multimedia and most of the new graphic cards can support aero interface of Windows Vista and Windows 7.
Integrated graphics:
Corporate users
Business users
Light gamers

Discrete graphics:
High end gamers

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If you haven't purchased a computer already
Jul 17, 2006 11:20PM PDT

I would recommend looking for a dual graphics solution like some models from Sony and others, it will switch from integrated to descrite when needed to conserve battery. I think most manufacturers may head in this direction. There are only a few models out there that offer this option. If you only plan on E-mail and Internet then integrated graphics will someone pointed out BUT, the shelf-life of laptops with integrated graphics will be short in relation to newer operating systems with loads of "widgets" if you plan on selling it in the future to upgrade. I would recommend a integrated solution for someone who doesn't plan to upgrade the operating system or install loads of programs which make use of graphics, then you can use the computer for as long as it lasts. Then you need to decide only on cost, asthetics, size, screen size, weight, and cost. I would recommend a Intel 950GMA chipset which is a bit newer that say 915GMA. The newer chipset will allow you to play some games, watch movies more fluidly and uses faster memory giving you a little more shelf-life. Go with a WXGA+ UltraSharp display or better, SATA hard drive, 1gb memory, and a 7200RPM drive for the longest shelf life.

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Thanks, a few more questions
Jul 18, 2006 2:57AM PDT

You make a good point. Do you happen to know the models, manufacturers that offer this dual option. Sony from what I've seen is just out of my price range. To get the features I want on a Sony system will involve a price tag of probably 2K or higher. Any options like these on Dell/Toshiba? Staying away from Acer because read too many bad things about their service and products and Lenovo a bit wary of too. Not a huge HP fan, but would consider for the right system and price.

Also, quick question, you mention ultra sharp display. I was staying away from the Dell true life displays and sticking to standards because I read a lot of user reviews that the true life actually is worse and offers a ton of glare. Your thoughts?


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You might want to consider the HP DV5000
Jul 18, 2006 8:33AM PDT

They offer similar features as the Dell and should be in ruffly the same price range. You can also find it at Costco for a really good deal...

I know you said you aren't sure about HP. But they are compairable to Dell.

They also have systems that will be lighter and such for cheaper than the 5000.

My suggestion is to keep shopping around and don't rule anything out till your sure.

P.S. Good call on the Acer. Happy

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HP Support
Jul 21, 2006 6:45AM PDT

The HP website is fantastic. Technology tips, online diagnostics, you name it. I own an HP zd8080us media center laptop and i'm very happy with it.

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Thanks a few more questions
Jul 24, 2006 1:45AM PDT

I have not had any problems with Acer Tech them twice. Acer saves you money by shipping with a 4 cell battery. Ande from what I read last year...I will assume HP and Dell and Toshiba ship with 6 cells.

For what you want to do, you need not spend alot on a laptop. And $ 1400 nowadays is alot!!!!!!!

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Thanks for the input
Jul 24, 2006 5:07AM PDT

Thanks for the feedback, still going with Dell over Acer and actually I want a 9-cell battery. 4-cell just doesn't have the battery life I need. I will be working remotely enough. As for cost, yes I don't have to spend $1400 and probably won't be once I get done with the various discounts I have, but I need something that will last more than just a year or two, its gotta be something in 3-4 years I'm still using wtih no problems, so need higher quality and there is the old adage, you get what you pay for. Thanks for all the tips. I appreciate it. Probably going to end up with the Dell Inspiron 1505. Though I prefer the XPS 1210M, its pricetag is just a bit too high and though I'd rather something smaller and more portable, the 1505 really gives you your bang for your buck. Its bigger and weighs more, but so be it.

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Some good thoughts, my questions are?
Jul 18, 2006 1:33AM PDT

Thanks all for the opinions. Sounds like overall for performance and needs the integrated graphics (for me) is the way to go. The heat factor is also something to consider, as I am the kind of person that likes to literally put the system on her lap (no pun intended).

That said, I have no idea about Vista and it would be bad if in a year, I wanted to upgrade to Vista and couldn't appreciate the functionality of it because my graphics card couldn't handle it. I'm assuming that upgrading from integrated to discreet is impossible or super pricey.

So hard decision. Any thoughts from this group on the models I'm considering:

Dell Inspiron 1505 (essentially everything in a laptop for a good price) disadvantage - bigger and heavier, almost desktop replacement size.

Dell Inspiron 1405 (smaller and lighter than 1505, but no option to upgrade to discrete graphics)

Dell XPS1210 (smaller and lighter than both Inspiron models, some wouldn't like because 12.1 in. screen, but super versatile and unbelievable functionality for price, could get either discrete or integrated graphics card on here. Negative is pricetag.)

Toshiba Satellite U200 (very nice system, similar to XPS1210 from Dell, so also the 12 in. screen, question about the RAM, as it lists the upgrade from 512 mb as 1024mb vs. 1GB, not sure what that means, but this has all the pluses, but once you do the upgrades, somewhat pricey)

Toshiba Satellite M100 (nice machine, but also a price issue once you get done with add-ons. Also Toshiba doesn't offer any support standard, so have to do lots of upgrades for that)

The Toshiba Satellite A105 also looks nice but a much heavier machine.

So any thoughts folks.

Thanks for your help.

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Toshiba RAM + M105
Jul 18, 2006 9:35AM PDT


1024 MB = 1 GB; was that your question?

Often times a preconfigured model can be had for much less than a customized machine - see this Satellite M105 at (or search for M105-S3004 at

Has a Core Duo 1.66 GHz, 1 GB RAM, 100 GB/5400 rpm HDD, Intel 950 integrated graphics, DVD writer, 14.1" TruBrite WXGA, Windows Media Center. $1099, free shipping, no tax outside NYC. says this laptop weighs 6.5 lb, but Toshiba's website says 5.4+ lb, and I doubt with options the weight can go to 6.5 lb for a 14" notebook... I'd hope not!!

Hope that helps,

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Thanks and yes
Jul 18, 2006 11:26AM PDT

Yes, preconfigured is cheaper, but I like being able to choose my features. On the weight, yes, it actually can go that high, probaly has the upgraded battery, which is about 1 lb., which would drive the 5.4 up to almost 6.5. This is pretty similar to the M100 I'm looking at, but with a few less features, cause pre-configured. Thanks though, will keep in mind.

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Dell 1505
Jul 21, 2006 6:08AM PDT

If you want to get a discrete card go with this model from Dell. It has a bigger screen and weights a little more than the 1405 but you can get it with either a 128MB or 256MB video card which will handle games and Vista pretty well, plus it has the Intel dual core processor which will help too.

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Thank ya, been eyeing that model
Jul 21, 2006 3:12PM PDT

Yeah, been looking at this one, but the weight is what got me. Been actually thinking of reversing modes and getting an XPS M1210 which is much smaller and very portable. Thanks for the tips.

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I have an HP that has a 15.4 inch screen. I love it, but
Jul 21, 2006 11:00PM PDT

I can't even count the number of times I've wished I'd bought a smaller machine. If I were buying now the biggest I'd get would be a 14.1. I mover around a lot with my machine and find it too large, particularly on airplanes. I really like the 13 inch models from Fujitsu

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What's the difference??
Jul 25, 2006 2:44AM PDT

Hey everyone

What's the difference between an integrated GPU and a discrete GPU, besides sucking battery life, and stealing memory from the RAM? For example, if I had two EXACT video cards from the same company both offering 128MB of VRAM, what would be the difference in performance?

- Nick

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a link
Jul 25, 2006 3:17PM PDT
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(NT) (NT) Ok thank you
Jul 26, 2006 4:02AM PDT