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According to Device Manager, my HP ProBook 6550b laptop is equipped with a ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4300/4500 Series video card. CPU-Z says that it holds 512MB VRAM. Sometimes I do some video editing on it with Adobe Premiere Elements 10 or play Guild Wars 2. The former is a little laggy even with Aero disabled and the latter only runs smoothly on low quality. I already tried updating my drivers to no avail.

(version info)

I was wondering if I could expand my VRAM and if it would make sense to do so. I have an empty PCI Express slot, but I don't know if it's any use. I don't have a desktop and I don't want one because I don't need to have the best graphics performance. I just want those graphically intensive programs to not run like they're constantly being choked.

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No. You have a dedecated mobile graphics card. They are not sold to normal customers. – Ramhound Sep 17 '12 at 12:31
up vote 4 down vote accepted

I don't think you will be able to upgrade the GPU (graphics chip) on your laptop. The only laptops where it is even vaguely practical to upgrade the GPU are some top of the range models that use the MXM standard (which includes HP Elitebooks but not ProBooks). The vast majority of notebooks have the GPU soldered to the main board.

On some systems you can supplement the dedicated graphics RAM with some system RAM using 'shared memory', but it will not be as fast as dedicated video memory and the feature is more common with Nvidia chipsets. If your laptop does have this option then you may be able to activate it in the BIOS, but be careful with the settings you change.

The empty PCI Express slot you mentioned is probably a mini PCIe normally used for WiFi adapters.

I am not surprised that you cannot run Guild Wars 2 properly because you are close to the minimum system requirements.

I would suggest you try to find out more information about the exact hardware you have, and then post your Windows Experience Index scores so that we can determine if your system is performing as well as it should.

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I've uploaded my Experience Index score and the Graphics tab in dxdiag. The exact card I have is called ATI Mobility Radeon HD540v. Now that I think about it, I get a "Windows has rebooted your video card driver" about once a day. I will now try to download the most recent graphic card driver from HP, as opposed to the most recent driver from AMD. Perhaps it has been optimized for my laptop? – Pieter Sep 18 '12 at 6:56
@Pieter: those scores look normal to me. Did you have any luck with the new drivers? – James Sep 19 '12 at 10:44
I haven't seen the "Windows has rebooted the driver" tooltip since then. I don't think the performance has improved in Guild Wars 2. I get this warning message when starting Premiere Elements 10, it is laggy on non-HD video with Aero off and some "Adobe XYZ has crashed" messages pop up during its startup. I've captured my driver info. – Pieter Sep 19 '12 at 16:04
@Pieter: you are definitely using version 10 of Premiere Elements? I have seen lots of threads about people having problems with version 9 but not version 10. Are you sure that you fully uninstalled the old driver before you installed the new one? Are you sure that you are not missing the separate "chipset" driver on your laptop? Have you checked Control Panel -> Action Centre -> Maintenance to see if an issue have been detected? – James Sep 19 '12 at 16:41
I could be wrong, but I do think I'm using version 10 (screenshot). I don't have any messages in the Action Center, but I'll check if I can find a chipset driver on the HP site. – Pieter Sep 20 '12 at 8:56

The good news is that "yes you can - but only be completely replacing it via an external graphics card via an 3rd party housing".

You'll need to purchase a housing for an express card -> PCI slot - see here : - I have one manufactured by ViDock and it works well enough - in fact I am writing this currently using two additional screens as well as the laptop internal screen.

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Unfortunately you can't. Maybe, if the graphics card is not a fixed unit on the motherboard, you could try and replace it with a more powerfull one, but doing this in a laptop is often a lot of work and could introduce other problems (heat, insufficient power, etc.).

The PCI-E you're talking about is probably a mini PCI-E which can not be used for graphics. This is often used for Wi-Fi or Bluetooth cards.

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