Laptop Buying Guide – The difference between discrete and integrated graphics?

Laptops offer less space for graphics cards in their thin and light cases than in the cases of larger desktops. With the introduction of the NVIDIA GTX 10x series of chips and its new Pascal architecture, the graphics performance gap between desktops and laptops has narrowed considerably for the same level of hardware specifications. This article focuses on how you should choose a graphics card configuration when shopping for a new laptop.

What is a graphics card?

A graphics card is a printed circuit board that contains a CPU processor and RAM for processing and executing graphics data. It provides a better display of color and clarity.

4 main components of a graphics card:

  1. The motherboard connects data and power to the graphics card, allowing it to communicate with the CPU, which decides what to do with each pixel that is completed.
  2. Memory holds each pixel of the completed screen and temporarily stores the information for display.
    Additional power is usually required, as newer graphics cards require more power.
  3. The graphics card acts like a converter, converting the binary data from the CPU into millions of pixels arranged into an image that you can see. the CPU, along with the software application, sends the information about the image to the graphics card. The graphics card decides how to create the image using the pixels on the screen and eventually sends the information to the display via a cable.
  4. To create a three-dimensional image from binary data, the graphics card first uses straight lines to create the image’s wireframe. Next, it rasterizes or fills the image with pixels. Then, it adds lighting, text, and color. In fast-paced games, laptops perform this process 60 times per second (learn more after a minute) at what is called the frame rate (per second). Without a graphics card, this workload can be very demanding on the motherboard.

What is a GPU?

A graphics processing unit (GPU) is similar to a CPU. it is designed to perform the complex mathematical and geometric calculations required to render graphics. Some of the fastest GPUs have more transistors than a regular CPU. Like CPUs, GPUs generate a lot of heat. Therefore, a heat sink or fan is needed to cool it and, like a CPU, it helps dissipate the excess heat.

FPS is an overall indicator of graphics card performance

Frames per second (FPS) (or “frame rate”) is the number of times a graphics card can render an image per second. Also, the number of times an image is refreshed on the screen per second. In both cases, the greater the FPS, the smoother the video motion.

The more powerful the GPU and CPU, the more frames per second will be generated. 30 FPS is considered the minimum requirement for playable games. 60 FPS is ideal for smooth transitions, but requires some tweaking of the laptop’s settings (especially for large games with 3A graphics quality). The human eye can see 1000 frames per second. 120 FPS is significantly smoother than 60 FPS, and high-end gaming laptops will come with high-end components such as 144Hz displays.

Laptop graphics card options – dedicated vs. integrated graphics

Portable computers can run with dedicated or integrated graphics solutions. However, which laptop you should choose depends on the activities you intend to perform on the laptop.

Integrated graphics

This means that the GPU is built into the CPU. For general everyday computing, anything other than an integrated graphics card may be considered too large and a waste of money.

Dedicated graphics cards

Also known as a discrete graphics card, the magic of this graphics solution is that the graphics card is its own separate entity. It doesn’t need to share any resources with the CPU. This makes it bigger and more powerful.

Note: Despite the increasing power of integrated graphics cards. For activities such as gaming or using heavyweight graphics rendering programs, you will need a separate graphics card.

NVIDIA Geforce Laptop Graphics Cards

NVIDIA helps you unleash your gaming edge with gaming laptops that feature GeForce GTX 10 series graphics cards.

Today, you can plug a full GeForce GTX 1080 chip into your laptop and get nearly the same performance as a gaming desktop. Best of all, you get a huge pixel boost to handle AAA titles at higher resolutions and frame rates.

NVIDIA’s entry-level lineup is the GTX 1080 cards. Since these are rugged cards, the tradeoff is an equivalent stubby laptop with a heavier overall mass and less portability.

The mid-range solution you can find on cheaper gaming laptops is the MX450 graphics card in the GeForce series. It is capable of running many popular new games in full HD resolution. Admittedly, depending on the game, you will have different feelings.

The best graphics card for gaming – MAX-Q

The Max-Q variant of the GTX graphics card mentioned above is optimized for power consumption. They run cooler and quieter thanks to advanced thermal and electrical design. They add a whole new look to the gaming experience on laptops, but are not as powerful as the full-aperture mobile cards.

While competition is not as fierce at the high end of the market, Nvidia’s rival AMD does offer its own line of large dedicated graphics cards for laptops.

Currently, the Radeon RX series is AMD’s top portable graphics card configuration. However, it is only equivalent to the NVIDIA GTX 1060, near the bottom of NVIDIA’s product line. However, there are examples of mid-range products such as the Radeon R9 series.

AMD’s focus seems to be on integrated graphics, which is where the company is making a big splash with its Vega technology. A good example of this is the Radeon Vega M GL graphics card, which is slightly more powerful than the NVIDIA GTX 1050.

Here, Intel uses its own line of powerful GPUs built into the CPU. Graphics solutions from Intel and AMD will run your everyday applications without problems and keep your games in good shape.

Note: While all of this information is great, we think the best way to find out the best graphics solution for your new laptop is to compare the benchmarks for graphics cards.


Top of the line graphics cards have a lot of memory and fast CPUs. but it is surprising to see how fast integrated graphics cards are evolving. As mentioned earlier, for email, word processing, or web surfing, the graphics support on a motherboard with an integrated graphics card is more than adequate. Mid-range graphics cards like NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1070 and 1060 are perfect for most casual gamers. If you’re a gaming junkie or use 3D graphics heavily, you’ll need the power of a high-end card. High performance graphics cards usually need to be equipped with fans or coolers.

Thank you for reading and have more fun with your laptop purchase!

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