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Low-end GPU vs. integrated - worth it?

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#1
Once upon a time Humberto was trying to choose a laptop.

The sky was singing and the birds were blue, or something. He had decided to go mid-range - i5, 8gb, that sort of thing - but his mind dwelt on GPUs.

He wondered how noticeable the benefits would be from a low-end GPU as compared with dull old integrated graphics. Low-end as in, say, a Radeon 8670K or 8650G or (slightly better) a GeForce GT 740M.

Would even low-end GPUs afford a considerable benefit over integrated, or were the low-end GPUs not really worth the bother, when considered against older games such as HL2 or Doom 3?

"If you're going to have a GPU, get a mid-to-high-end one," offered his pet tortoise, Alan.

Humberto noted the advice but wondered as to its validity. He deferred to the expertise of the good people at TechPowerUp in order to arrive, he hoped, at a conclusive answer.

So decided, he continued humming - a theme from Rimsky Korsakov's Arabian Nights, in fact - and waited for replies.
 
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#2
GT 740M is pretty much mid-range for laptop specifications, especially if it's equipped with GDDR5 and not GDDR3/DDR3.

If you'll be playing HL2 and Doom 3 on an Intel HD 4600, you'll still experience some lag (and sometimes graphical anomalies) on crowded areas due to memory bandwidth. If you're planning on gaming, do get a laptop with a dedicated GPU.

If you're able to save $100+ by going iGPU however...
 
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#3
Tell Humberto to build a PC if he wants to game.
 
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#4
Thanks, Cheeseball. You mention likely lag with integrated graphics even on older games, but would low-end cards like those mentioned alleviate this? Not sure what an iGPU is (or whether I'd find a laptop in my range with one) but I'll look into that.

Crap Daddy - Humberto's after a work laptop, for which gaming is way down the list of priorities but nonetheless it would be good to fire up some of the old classics. Nothing cutting edge. I've been looking at building one at PCSpecialist, along with pre-built, branded ones.

Current top candidate is this Lenovo: http://shop.lenovo.com/gb/en/laptops/thinkpad/s-series/s440/?sb=:000000F0:000003B0:

...but a low-end GPU, as I say.
 

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#5
HD 8670M should be able to handle most games at lower resolution and settings. It isn't going to blow your mind or anything but that's definitely better than integrated.
 
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#6
So Humberto wants an Ultrabook. A different animal since these are not meant in the slightest for gaming. BUT... in the meantime Humberto can check notebookcheck.net, a very good source for everything laptop including benchmarks for GPUs. To cut the story short, that particular Lenovo come with an AMD 8670 which is about 18% faster than the Intel 4400 on the mobile i5 and on par with a Ge Force 710m. For that low resolution of the Lenovo screen it should be quite suitable for much demanding games than HL2. Again, check notebookcheck for details. It all boils down to Humberto's budget and what particular games he might play during a boring business trip.
 
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#7
Apologies for an obvious statement, and I ain't no marketing bot, but have you considered going amd?

I only ask because while I agree that if you want something that will game, even realistically for a non-gaming laptop, you'd likely want something with (even on a low-end discrete gpu) gddr5 memory....anything else really isn't worth the additional price beyond integrated, which will be pretty gnarly even for older games. Intel's integrated gpu in the mid-range still doesn't pass muster, and anything with iris pro 5200 is pretty darn expensive. No real way to win there in a decent all-around notebook/ultrabook.

OTOH, Kaveri laptops/ultrabooks may not completely suck, and be a nice compromise. We still have no idea what will come of those embedded solutions, but there is hope. Even if they don't pull out the ace everyone is hoping for this go-round (the apu supports 128-bit gddr5 and/or 256-bit ddr3, which may or may not be used), there is a possibility 1366x768 may still be quite playable regardless, and conceivably even competative with Iris solutions if laptop makers use decently-fast ddr3 (2133). Those solutions will likely cost a heck of a lot less money than an Iris Pro from Intel, and still do fine at basic productivity required in a notebook. In your case the added benefit of good-enough (better than mid-level intel) gpu to their good-enough (but slower than intel) cpu in a cheaper package might be a perfect fit.
 
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#8
AMD A 10 6800K has a 8670D integrated or Kaveri with its Radeon R7
 
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#9
Thanks for the replies, everyone - very helpful as always.

@alwayssts - I must concede much of your post was over my head a little but I am happy to consider AMD. In fact I started out looking at this Acer with an A10 5757M:

http://www.acer.co.uk/ac/en/GB/content/model-datasheet/NX.MD2EK.001

Something of a steal at £430, I feel.

@Jetster, not seen any laptops with the A10 6800K in but I'll have a look.

Thanks for the benchmark percentile difference, @Crap Daddy - that was precisely the sort of thing I was after.

My budget - that is to say, Humberto's budget - is £600 tops.
 
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#10
Thanks for the replies, everyone - very helpful as always.

@alwayssts - I must concede much of your post was over my head a little but I am happy to consider AMD. In fact I started out looking at this Acer with an A10 5757M.
My apologies.

In my opinion, the a10 4600-5757m (4000 is called trinity, 5000 is called richland...same chip) are decent options, but in truth I would put it right on the very edge between good-enough and not quite there, and I know it's irritating as I would have bought one myself if it were not the case. If you need something now and can't afford/justify something with a gddr5 gpu, you will probably be happy considering the prices they are available for...it is probably the best bang-for-buck for your situation.

Kaveri is the next amd 'apu' (cpu with integrated graphics, just like trinity and richland) that is launching on desktop in the next few weeks; it was just reviewed all around the web. It will come to laptops very shortly, and odds are it will both be cheap while giving you acceptable graphics performance (20-30% faster than Richland, similarish to Iris Pro) for a smaller-size laptop/ultrabook.

No one likes to be told to wait, and I get that, but I feel this coming cpu gen from both amd and intel will finally make the 1366x768 (and in some cases 1600x900) crowd mostly content with integrated. Intel is already there with their 5200 graphics, but they are expensive. AMD will be there with Kaveri. Intel may bring the price down on their next gen (coming later in the year) by incorporating a faster solution into their more mid-range products...

...and that's pretty much how we sit.
 

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#12
Thanks, @alwayssts. Perhaps I'll hang on, then. Interesting you rate Intel's 5200; in my naiivity I had thought Intel integrated was always a terrible idea for running any games of any description!
Well hello again.

Intel's iGPU will run half life fine. It will even run LoL and such fine at laptop resolutions. (You're looking at 13inch screens so not that big)

Mid to high end GPU's will cost you close to the thousands in terms of laptop gaming GPU's. It's either iGPU, or a terribly low end dedicated gpu like a 7650 or a 710m. Both of which will cost you a fair amount more.
 
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#13
Thanks mate as always. I'll get one eventually... probably.

A guy in PCWorld even insisted to me yesterday that Intel's latest integrated (4600) were good for gaming. Surely there isn't a single gamer out there playing on that, without discrete...
 
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#14
Thanks mate as always. I'll get one eventually... probably.

A guy in PCWorld even insisted to me yesterday that Intel's latest integrated (4600) were good for gaming. Surely there isn't a single gamer out there playing on that, without discrete...
There are... many. Check Steam hardware survey and you will be amazed how many are playing with Intel iGPU
 

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#16
Wow, this is something of a revelation. I thought Intel iGPU === "don't even think about it".
Intel iGPU on desktops is far better than that on laptops. You'll find most intel iGPU's on that survey are from desktops. But yeah, a lot of both laptop and desktop gamers on steam just play little indie games, for which an iGPU is more than enough power. Games like LoL aren't that demanding, I'm fairly certain it can handle Half Life and such. Somebody on TeamSpeak even managed to play BF3 on an iGPU, with all of 15 FPS.
 
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#17
OK I may have missed a few posts here - there is a lot to read - but I recently built a new i7 4770K system - and have to wait a few months for cash to re-spawn for a GFX card.

I have never used the new generation of integrated GPU's but the last time I even looked at on board graphics they where COMPLETELY USELESS.

Anyway - with a month or 2 to wait before I can afford a GFX card I figured I would see how far this on chip GPU can go - and I have to say my mind was utterly blown - this thing is not just good its BLOODY FANTASTIC.

Its still nowhere near as good as a GOOD gfx card but I'd say it VERY EASLY beats most low to even mid range cards depending on what you are doing with it.

It scores roughly 10 000 in 3DMark 06 - Yes its an old test now but my 8800GTS only got around 12 000 overclocked!

I am playing Borderlands 2 on it a the moment - and YES I have turned a few settings down but it still runs VERY well considering I have no GFX card at all (Technically Speaking)

I would say if you are on a tight budget, and looking at a low end GFX card - rather put that extra money to buying a CPU one click higher up the ladder - because integrated GPU's are a LOT better now than they ever where - and at very least in my case WAY better than an actual low end gfx card.

Yes, I will still be getting a proper High end card eventually - but these few months using the integrated chip have really opened my eyes - I had no idea they had gotten this good.
 
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#18

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#19
Intel iGPU on desktops is far better than that on laptops. You'll find most intel iGPU's on that survey are from desktops. But yeah, a lot of both laptop and desktop gamers on steam just play little indie games, for which an iGPU is more than enough power. Games like LoL aren't that demanding, I'm fairly certain it can handle Half Life and such. Somebody on TeamSpeak even managed to play BF3 on an iGPU, with all of 15 FPS.
AFAIK they are the same, generally, the difference being clocks.

http://ark.intel.com/compare/75122,76348

i5 4200 vs 4770.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_Intel_graphics_processing_units
 

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#20
the difference being clocks
Precisely, and changing the clocks on intel iGPU on a laptop to match their desktop counterparts isn't going to happen without some issues.
 

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#21
Precisely, and changing the clocks on intel iGPU on a laptop to match their desktop counterparts isn't going to happen without some issues.
The lists say most of the mobile versions go up to 1150Mhz.
 

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#22
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#23
I think no matter how you look at it - mobile versions ARE scaled down and DO perform less. I'm afraid something simply does not magically half in size and power consumption without effectively doing less work at the end of the day - For sure my desktop i7 gets a LOT hotter when I'm using the iGPU - I'm sure the same is true for a mobile implementation, and many mobile chips eat into their performance to regulate heat when the tiny internal blower cant keep up.

Now there is the real kicker - can the tiny little internal blower keep up.

If there was an argument for a dedicated mid range GPU on a laptop it may well be that dedicated cooling would let it work harder than the potentially capable iGPU might.

If the system only uses a single cooling loop either way, then I'd say rather go for the bigger CPU and iGPU.

It will probably run games more or less as well either way - and you will have more CPU grunt for those moments when you aren't playing games.

Just remember an iGPU eats into your ram a bit and the more you can give it the happier it will be - So be sure there's some to spare on your system spec if you go for intergrated.
 

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#25
Great info - thanks, guys. I hadn't realised iGPUs had gotten decent, either. Good points re: the cooling, too.
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