Assuming I am using the following equipment...

  • motherboard with HDMI/DVI & no embedded graphics
  • discrete graphics card (nVidia or ATI) on PCI-E slot
  • Intel CPU with integrated graphics

...where should I plug my monitor into the computer?

Presumably, I'll get the fastest speed on games connected directly to the graphics card. But there is also power savings when connecting to the motherboard and accessing the Intel on-board graphics.

I've read that some motherboards can switch automatically between the Intel graphics and discrete graphics. Is that something that works well, and where do I connect the monitor to enable that?

  • The CPU has onboard graphics? o.O – Synetech Feb 24 '12 at 7:10
  • Yes, quite a few of them do now. I meant to use the word "integrated", not "onboard". newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115072 – Jeremy White Feb 24 '12 at 7:20
  • Well, other than the Sandy Bridge E, most current intel processors have their graphics built into the processor. I've not actually used a desktop sandy bridge part, but they're pretty efficient on laptops. – Journeyman Geek Feb 24 '12 at 7:30
  • Great, why not just build everything into a single component. That way nobody can upgrade anything anymore and has to throw the whole system in the trash and buy a complete one to upgrade. And of course there’s no picking and choosing your own parts (not since Intel and AMD went their own ways). I guess modularization and standardization/compatibility are things of the past. :-| – Synetech Feb 24 '12 at 17:04
  • The only bad part about using the integrated graphics (in my opinion) is that it uses a portion of system memory. I'm not a huge fan of that. – Jeremy White Feb 24 '12 at 21:29

It depends on what family of motherboard you have.

If you have a a P series (which disables the onboard graphics totally) plug it into the discrete graphics card.

If you have a Z68, H 61 or H68) series, its a bit more complicated - you need to install a piece of software called virtu which lets you use both at once, and switch off the discrete graphics as needed.There's a small performance drop when this is done, apparently. You should be able to get virtu off your motherboard's driver website.

If you're using virtu, you'll need to plug your monitor into your onboard video card.I'd suggest confirming this with your motherboard and software documentation however, since i've gone off reviews in writing this answer - i wasn't aware that virtu worked on H series motherboards.

There's a little more information on virtu here which confirms were you plug in the display out on the motherboard, and it goes into some detail on the install process, and has some benchmarks

  • Ah ha! That's exactly the answer I was looking for. I'm considering this MB btw. newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128507 Thanks! – Jeremy White Feb 24 '12 at 7:23
  • Wow... never knew there was graphics switching for desktops. Very cool @JourneymanGeek. – nhinkle Feb 24 '12 at 8:40
  • I didn't know the H series supported it either. Thats the nice thing about SU, I learn new stuff all the time. Virtu isn't just switchable graphics though, not in the same way as AMD Hybrid and Optimus - its closer to the approach that SoftTH takes - rendering stuff on the discrete card, and handing it over to the integrated video processor – Journeyman Geek Feb 24 '12 at 8:48
  • Interesting. According to that link, it's not really worth it to use virtu. The benchmarks mostly suggest it doesn't work faster or draw less power. – Jeremy White Feb 24 '12 at 21:43

You read it wrong about switching graphics cards - just there was some Atom graphics from Nvidia which could switch off and on while system worked. If you plug external graphics card internal card switches off.

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