Graphics Card Decisions

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Graphics Card Decisions

Postby AngelOfTheDark » Sun Mar 04, 2012 12:57 pm

I'm in the market for a new computer, in particular a laptop. I found a really good price on a customizable HP Pavilion dv6z Quad Edition Entertainment PC, with specs options better than my current desktop. While I haven't edited recently as much as I used to (I'd mostly be using this computer for day-to-day checking email, surfing the web, maybe streaming a few movies, etc.), I still want to keep it an option, especially since I do have one or two projects coming up that I'd like to do for a special occasion.

That said, price is certainly a concern with me. The only thing I'm not sure about this computer is the graphics card. They give me two options, but I can't find much information on exactly what their specs are or if it's REALLY worth it to get the pricier option. Here are my choices, as presented to me by the website:

Option 1: AMD Radeon(TM) Discrete-Class Graphics [HDMI, VGA]
Option 2: 1GB AMD Radeon(TM) HD 7690M GDDR5 Discrete Graphics(TM) [HDMI, VGA]

When I click on "help me decide" this is the information I'm presented with:


AMD Radeon(TM) Discrete-Class Graphics [HDMI, VGA]
The new A6/8 delivers intense visuals, stunning power, and improved battery life***. Multi-tasking and content creation shift into overdrive with HP Pavilion dv powered by the AMD A6/8 APU.***Battery life will vary depending on the product model, configuration, loaded applications, features, use, wireless functionality and power management settings. The maximum capacity of the battery will naturally decrease with time and usage. See MobileMark07 battery benchmark http://www.bapco.com /products/mobilemark2007 for additional details. AMD's numbering is not a measurement of clock speed. Quad-core is a new technology designed to improve performance of certain software products. Not all customers or software applications will necessarily benefit from use of this technology. A/C Power required to enable Perfect Picture HD and HD content is required for HD display



1GB GDDR5 Radeon(TM) HD Dual Graphics [HDMI, VGA]
AMD RadeonTM notebook discrete graphics series offer enormous performance for powering DirectX(R)11 games and applications. It offers HD entertainment technology, such as MPEC-4 part 2 formats (DivX7, Xvid) and MVC decode, which delivers stunning video playback quality. With the new GPU accelerated features in Microsoft(R) Office(R) 2010 and Internet Explorer(R) 9, experience improved graphics performance, visual effects and video rendering for outstanding visual computing. DISCLAIMERS: Battery life will vary depending on the product model, configuration, loaded applications, features, use, wireless functionality and power management settings. The maximum capacity of the battery will naturally decrease with time and usage. See MobileMark07 battery benchmark http://www.bapco.com/products/mobilemark2007 for additional details. High definition (HD) content is required to view high-definition images.


This is all the information they seem to have on the site and Googling it hasn't been much more help. Mind you, I'm not going for super-expensive-top-of-the-line as a requirement. Option 2 costs $77 more than Option 1. Basically, I want to know if either of these are any good and, if so, can I get away with the cheaper option without too many problems?
"They say that there is no medicine that can cure a fool... I guess that's true." (Potion shop's old woman- LoZ OoT)
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Re: Graphics Card Decisions

Postby NeoQuixotic » Mon Mar 05, 2012 3:32 pm

Well that laptop uses AMD's new APU processor. The APU is a CPU with a GPU built into the processor die. The APUs aren't the fastest CPUs out there, but are decent and power efficient. The built in GPU is also decent enough for most uses and gaming on low to medium settings at low resolutions. As long as your not planning on gaming I would think it would be just fine. The APU uses system ram for it's integrated GPU, so that might be a reason to grab the GPU with 1GB of RAM. I could only see the better GPU being useful for gaming or applications that actually make good use out of GPU acceleration.

Another thing to take into account is the screen. At 15.6" the stock 1366x768 resolution is pretty low. The upgrade to 1920x1080 would make it much more pleasant to use, but is the $150 upgrade worth it to you. Also, do you think you'll need to play/rip Blu-rays at anytime? If yes, then that's another $75. And if watching/editing HD content the 1920x1080 screen would be prefered. I'd also upgrade from the stock battery if you want to use it unplugged frequently.

Overall I'd say it should be fine with it's minimum stock configuration. It does start to get pricey once you start tacking on upgrades. It should be fine for average computer use, light editing, and light gaming. I'd probably just get the best CPU (A8-3550MX) and call it fine.
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Re: Graphics Card Decisions

Postby AngelOfTheDark » Mon Mar 05, 2012 6:56 pm

Thanks, that helps a bit.

Follow up question:

Assuming a similar price range and similar features, which combination is preferred?:

2nd generation Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-2430M Processor (2.4 GHz, 3MB L3 Cache) Turbo Boost to 3.0 GHz
with
1GB AMD Radeon(TM) HD 7470M GDDR5 Discrete Graphics(TM) [HDMI, VGA]

OR

AMD Quad-Core A8-3550MX Accelerated Processor (2.7GHz/2.0GHz, 4MB L2 Cache)
with
1GB AMD Radeon(TM) HD 7690M GDDR5 Discrete Graphics(TM) [HDMI, VGA]



Last night my dreams were spent contemplating spec vs. cost tradeoffs. Probably a sign I should end my search and buy one soon...
"They say that there is no medicine that can cure a fool... I guess that's true." (Potion shop's old woman- LoZ OoT)
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Re: Graphics Card Decisions

Postby NeoQuixotic » Mon Mar 05, 2012 9:49 pm

The Intel i5 is faster, but is only a dual core with hyper threading. Also the 7450M GPU is much less powerful than the 7690M. From these benchmark scores LINK (from a different laptop review) the i5-2430m performs much better overall. But these benchmarks only lists the A8-3500M, not the A8-3550MX. I'd like to see more specific benchmarks, but they are hard to find. I still think the i5 will be faster in general even as a dual core. The quad core APU would probably only shine when 100% maxing all 4 cores.

I would either stick to the A8-3550MX with no extra GPU or go with the i5 with the 1GB 7690M upgrade (not the 7450M). Although, if you aren't going to do anything GPU accelerated maxing the i5 out with it's integrated graphics could be the best deal. I can't really say for sure without solid benchmarks and having no experience using those integrated graphics for editing/3D stuff.
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