Integrated vs. dedicated graphics

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Pluckie, May 5, 2006.

  1. macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 7, 2005
    #1
    With all this MacBook speculation, I've been seeing a lot of talk about integrated versus dedicated graphics.

    Can anybody explain the difference and the benefits/disadvantages of each type to help my n00b soul understand...

    Thanks, folks.
     
  2. Administrator/Editor

    WildCowboy

    Staff Member

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    Jan 20, 2005
    #2
    With integrated graphics (ie. no separate graphics card), the system has to dedicate some of its memory to graphics generation. Dedicated graphics cards have their own memory to drive the graphics, leaving the system memory to handle the computation.

    The only real advantage to integrated graphics is cost. And a little bit of space, too.
     
  3. Moderator emeritus

    grapes911

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    #3
    Dedicated graphics cards are superior in almost every aspect. They are a must for any real gaming. They take much of the graphics work off the CPU, leaving the CPU to do other things.

    Integrated graphics are fine for pretty much everything but gaming and software such as Motion. They cost less and usually generate less heat. All graphics work is done on the CPU, possibly taking away valuable cycles from the processor.
     
  4. thread starter macrumors member

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    May 7, 2005
    #4
    Got it!

    Thanks everyone for the quick responses.
     
  5. macrumors 6502a

    mmmcheese

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    Feb 17, 2006
    #5
    The integrated graphics will allow for smaller machines, and less power consumptions since they are integrated into the northbridge.

    The needs of 90% of consumers are covered with integrated graphics...
     
  6. macrumors 6502

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    #6
    If you don't do gaming, 3D design, GMA950 is fine. But I'm not sure about Photoshop, but I heard it depends on CPU.
     
  7. macrumors 6502a

    mmmcheese

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    #7
    I wouldn't say all...many of the functions are accelerated in hardware, but some functions (ones that are a little more exotic, and used less) are done in software (to save die space/cost). The critical functions, such as MPEG decoding, 2D and basic 3D functions are done in hardware.
     
  8. Moderator emeritus

    grapes911

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    #8
    While this is a common place, it is not always the case.

    Good point. Still compared to dedicated graphics, integrated graphics can be very taxing on the CPU when doing graphic intensive operations
     
  9. macrumors 6502a

    slackersonly

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    #9
    i believe that a good bit of integrated graphics dont offer the high end resolution capability that some people need for external monitors/tvs.
     
  10. Moderator emeritus

    grapes911

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    #10
    More often than not, integrated graphics can power relatively large resolutions. My parents' mac mini power's a 20-inch widescreen monitor. It may even power something larger. It does not handle the 30-inch though.
     
  11. macrumors 6502a

    Brize

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    #11
    Yep, the mini can handle the 23-inch cinema display with no problem.
     
  12. macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

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    #12
    Bullsmuk, pure bullsmuk. Integrated graphics do not cover 90% of users, maybe 50% at best. Integrated graphics are cheap dont even get me started.
     
  13. macrumors 68030

    AlBDamned

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    #13
    Qualify your statement and continue..
     
  14. macrumors 6502a

    Brize

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    #14
    Consumers, not users. That's a significant distinction.
     
  15. macrumors 68040

    miniConvert

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    #15
    In the highest resolution, too. Mine even plays WoW, but it's pretty crappy.
     
  16. jsw
    Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    #16
    I have an Intel mini connected to a 1920x1080 display, which it runs full res, no issues. I do Java development on it, and, again, no problems. Runs emulated software fine. I can run Skype and WarCraft III, both emulated, and it's playable with only 1GB of RAM. iChat? Great full-screen images.

    Are dedicated graphics better? Of course! But I think it's crazy to say integrated graphics are terrible or insufficient for most. Unlike what many gamers and graphics pros might think, integrated graphics are more than enough for most users, including professionals - the code I develop is for work, and the mini is fine. Do I prefer the MBP? Yes, because it's portable. But, from a usability point of view, the mini is fine.
     
  17. macrumors 68020

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    #17
    To put things in perspective: it's my understanding that the current crop of integrated graphics chipsets outperform yesterday's dedicated chips. The current mini's graphics chip outperforms that of the G4's dedicated Radeon 9200, yet nobody ever complained about the 9200. And not only does it outperform the old, it also supports Core Image. So why are people so upset? Who cares what's inside the box, as long as it's faster and more capable than the old, right?
     
  18. Moderator emeritus

    grapes911

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    #18
    Because as hardware specs increase, so do software requirements. Four years ago, top of the line games required top of the line graphics cards. Today, top of the line games still require top of the line graphics cards. Just because a so-so graphics card of today is faster than a great card of 4 years ago, doesn't mean it can handle all games of today.
     
  19. macrumors 6502a

    mmmcheese

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    #19

    Well, there's 1 less chip to place on the board, so the motherboard can be smaller, and dedicated graphics usually run at a higher clock speed, so they consume much more power than the extra functions built into an already powered northbridge (although it will consume more power than a non-graphics version of the northbridge).


    As for someone's comment about high resolutions, people are having no problems with HDTV resolutions and their mac minis.
     
  20. macrumors 6502a

    fowler.

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    #20
    I find it funny that as soon as Apple offers the integrated graphics solution, it automatically becaomes ok. Before the Mac Mini, you'd be skewered if you tried to convince anyone that integrated graphics was "all they really needed".
     
  21. macrumors G3

    QCassidy352

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    #21
    the problem is that integrated graphics take away RAM and processor cycles that could be used elsewhere.

    also, from what I've seen, the GMA950 performs worse than the 9200 in 3d gaming. And the 9200 is an ancient, horrible card. I shudder at the thought of this integrated crap replacing the Radeon 9550 in the current ibooks...

    edit: well said, fowler. I'm as much an apply fanboy as the next guy, but even I'm not entering this reality distortion field.
     
  22. macrumors 6502a

    mmmcheese

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    #22
    The average consumer doesn't play intensive games though...most use it for email, chatting and web surfing with a bit of word processing on the side. Even people who are into CPU intensive tasks such as audio editing/creation wouldn't notice the difference between a low end dedicated chip and integrated graphics.

    Even so, if today's low-end graphics can be achieved without the need of extra chips and power, why not take advantage of that? the GMA950 is placed in todays market where the Radeon Mobility 9200 was placed previously...so yes, it is faster than the 9200, but it's still in the same general price/performance range that the 9200 was when it was current.

    Let's also not forget that Intel (not ATI or Nvidia) is the biggest supplier of graphics chipsets on the planet....that says a lot for what the average consumer has in their computer.
     
  23. macrumors 68020

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    #23
    You missed my point. Within the market of low-cost video card solutions, the GMA950 fits neatly into the same market that the 9200 did in years past. The fact that the GMA950 uses "inferior" shared memory technology is irrelevant. It still serves the same purpose at a higher performance level in order to meet the demands of current technology trends.
     
  24. macrumors G3

    QCassidy352

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    #24
    yeah, but it's not even superior to the 9200 for 3d apps. And it's quite a bit worse than the 9550.

    And please don't tell me that the average consumer doesn't care about games. I'm no "gamer," but I may still want to be able to play the occasional game. You don't have to dedicate your life to 3d games to appreciate the ability to play one once in a while. A lot of users won't notice or care about integrated graphics, but a lot of users will. The ibook/macbook is aimed at students and other young people - a notorious gaming market.

    And once again, integrated drains other system resources. That's the real problem. So your 512 base RAM is really 432 (16 for the system, 64 for graphics), and your processor suffers too.
     
  25. Moderator emeritus

    grapes911

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    #25
    You must have missed my earlier posts. I even said that dedicated graphics cards are only needed for games and apps like motion. My post you were quoting only referred to games. I never mentioned "email, chatting, and web surfing", etc.

    I guess I did, because those two cards do not fill the same role. The GMA950 in the Mac Mini is not designed for games. I'm not saying you can't play games with it, but it was only designed to drive a monitor for everyday use. On the other hand, the 9200 was designed as a low end gaming card. I wouldn't be surprised if the 9200 out preformed the GMA950.
     

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