I'm looking to buy a Dell laptop in the next couple of months for daughter's university use, and a bit of game playing, but not the latest high powered games. The choice is either a XPS 17 or Vostro 3750, depending on which seems the best value at the time of purchase.
Not really being very familiar with modern laptops, how much added value is a graphics card over Intel GMA HD? The XPS comes with 1GB Nvidia Geforce GT 550M and the Vostro with 1GB Nvidia GeForce N12P-GE if a graphics card is selected. Any practical observations appreciated.
I think I'm right in saying that the Sandy Bridge processors - like the Core i5 - have powerful graphics capability built in which in many applications renders (sic) a separate graphics card superfluous. However, that may depend on the specific model number of the i5. If the i5 you're looking at does have the graphics capability, I'd venture to suggest that, given the kind of games you describe, you may well not need to spend the extra £90.
I personally would go for the best (i.e. most powerful)graphics card that is offered with the laptop, it may be £100 or so more but the thing with laptops is that you can't upgrade later if you find that the basic one isn't good enough. You can add system RAm usually but that's about the limit of upgrades.
Either 1GB Nvidia card you mention above when matched with a decent processor would be ok to play most games and give you a decent display resolution for photos and movies, which I am sure your daughter will want to watch at some time on her laptop!
OK, a bit of random post, but may offer some help.
I have a Dell Vostro 3500 with i5-430m and Intel HD Graphics. I can play games such as Left 4 Dead one and two and any source games on very high settings. I have tried demos such as Call of Duty Modern Warfare 1 which is very choppy and stuttery and Crysis which is also stuttery. Programs such as photoshop CS5 and 720p vids (youtube) work/play perfectly with no stutter or slowdowns.
Hope this may of helped but my advice is, if you can afford it, get the best graphics for a laptop as possible and, as other posters have said, they are impossible to upgrade. This will also give you a better experience if you decide to upgrade to Windows 8 (which is my idea)(if it ever comes out)
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