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I have read that having a dedicated video card (GPU) improves performance if you use your computer to play video games. I guess to make this happen, video games or apps must be using especial libraries designed to share the workload with the GPU, maybe Direct X or OpenGL, I don't know. Am I wrong?

So, can HTML5 websites, Adobe Illustrator, Flash games (Zynga games), Skype or Netflix benefit from a dedicated video card? I usually do the previous activities simultaneously. Should I consider changing from an integrated video card to a dedicated card if I want to improve performance?

Thanks.

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First things first: What GPU are you using right now? –  sudo Nov 3 '12 at 21:30
    
Hi @Dennis Right now I have an Intel(R) HD Graphics adapter. –  kiewic Nov 3 '12 at 21:45

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Long story short, there will be little or no difference by using a dedicated video card when using most programs (non-games). However! There will be a difference in some. Some Shockwave/Flash games do use the video card for acceleration, but not in all cases. Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop and other video/photo editing software often use the GPU for accelerating tasks. Programs like Skype and Netflix will probably not benefit from a dedicated GPU at all.

Cheers, Leo

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You are not right, nor are you wrong.

Your computers needs 'something' to generate the image which is send to your monitor(s). That something is the GPU. Which means that you already have at least one GPU in your computer. It is either already on a dedicated card, or it is build into the chipset, or it is part of the CPU/APU.

If it is already on a dedicated card you can replace that with a faster model.

If it is in the chipset or in the APU/CPU then you can add more GPUs by adding more cards. You then can then disable or not use the old GPU part and use the faster card.

As a result 3D games will run faster. Programs which use the Open Computing Language (OpenCL) will run their openCL code on the GPU instead of the CPU and will run faster. (Or they will use both GPU and CPU and run even faster).

However not everything will be faster. If something is not limited by the graphical card then improving that will not help.

(In non computer term, think of it as writing a letter and getting it mailed once per day. Getting a faster pen will not help if the post if still delivered once per day).

In praxis however:

  • Modern 3D games can update their screen faster, or update fast enough with extra feaures (fog, anti aliassing etc) enabled.
  • A few programs will leverage the power of the GPU and run faster. There are not many program out there which do that yet, but their number is steadily increasing. Flash is once of these.
  • 2D stuff (office, skype, surfing the net) usually does not have an advantage.
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Short answer: it's probably not worth it.

I'm not sure exactly what generation of Intel integrated graphics you're on, but things like Skype, Netflix and HTML5 sites are more likely to be bottlenecked by your network connection than your GPU. It's more than adequate for what you're doing. The last couple of generations (Intel HD3000 and HD4000) which you'll find on Sandy and Ivy Bridge machines are even capable of doing some gaming.

Illustrator, like a lot of Adobe's Creative Suite, is actually more CPU, RAM and drive-bound than GPU-bound. And unlike programs like Photoshop, there isn't a list of supported GPUs to boost Illustrator performance substantially.

You'd probably get more of a performance boost from an SSD if you haven't got one already.

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