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Do I need a graphics card or will Intel's integrated HD Graphics 4000 suffice?

Advice on Intel's integrated HD Graphics 4000

Graphics card

Our Helproom Editor explains what to expect from Intel Graphics 4000 - the integrated graphical processing unit of Ivy Bridge processors. Do you need a separate graphics card?

QUESTION I'm currently running a fairly old Dell Dimension desktop PC with a pair of 256MB ATI Radeon X1300 Pro graphics cards. This provided plenty of performance for playing Ultima Online.

I have also been looking at getting a modern laptop for some time, but I will be using my PlayStation 3 for gaming. I will be using my laptop mainly for watching HD movies, streaming from YouTube, playing Flash games on Facebook and maybe some modelling in Blender. I can still switch to my desktop PC for rendering in Blender 3D, but what I want to know is can I make do with Intel's integrated HD Graphics 4000 or should I get a discrete graphics chip?

HELPROOM ANSWER A From what you've described, Intel's integrated graphics would be more than ample for your needs.  The HD Graphics 4000 will accelerate video playback and enable you to watch HD video content smoothly. Most Flash-based games will also run fine on integrated graphics which only start to struggle when faced with more complex 3D-modelled environments.

You can run Blender on an HD 4000-based system too, although it obviously won't be as fast as a system with a dedicated GPU. However, your Radeon X1300 cards are now so old that you'll find Intel HD graphics 4000 considerably faster than these.

Be aware that not all Intel processors incorporate HD Graphics 4000. You will need to buy a laptop with an Intel third-generation Core processor (Ivy Bridge) although, unlike their desktop counterparts, the mobile Core i3, i5 and i7 chips all include HD Graphics 4000.

 Graphics card

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Visit Windows 7 Advisor and Windows 8 Advisor for more Windows advice. Or email our Helproom Editor for bespoke advice.

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