Do I need a laptop with dedicated graphics?

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Most folks don’t put a ton of thought into the graphical capabilities of their laptop: as long as the graphics chip is drawing those pixels on the screen, it’s doing its job. But no matter how you use your device, there’s good reason to consider a more powerful, dedicated graphics chip in your next machine.

Graphics processing units, or GPUs, come in two flavors. Integrated GPUs reside on the laptop’s CPU, or central processing unit–the “brain” of your machine. These little chips are power efficient and capable of basic tasks, like drawing windows on your screen and even some light gaming. Dedicated GPUs, on the other hand–that is, separate chips dedicated to graphics and graphics alone–are much more powerful, making them useful for a wider range of tasks. You might not have needed a dedicated GPU in the past, but there are some compelling reasons to include one on your next machine.

Dedicated graphics power up video editing, photography, and other creative endeavors

Whether you’re tackling video, graphic design, 3D rendering, or other creative pursuits, you probably know a more powerful laptop allows you to get more done. The more powerful chips at your computer’s disposal, the faster you can render out that 4K video, or adjust a series of high-res photos. Simple, right?

Well, sort of. It’s not just about how much power you put behind those tasks: the type of chip bearing the load can make a difference, too. GPUs are more efficient than CPUs when it comes to handling multiple tasks in parallel, like the kind of computation done in exporting a video or rendering a 3D model.

Some GPUs are particularly suited to creative work, like the NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 3050 Ti Laptop GPU in the ASUS Vivobook Pro 16X OLED. These RTX cards are super optimized for AI-intensive tasks, like the “select sky” or “select subject” features in Adobe Lightroom. That means editing will feel snappier and projects will render in less time with a powerful, dedicated GPU helping the process along, even if you’re just editing the occasional batch of photos. If you’re really serious, check out the ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED with its even more powerful GPU, up to the NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 3080. It offers a second screen alongside its 4K OLED display that allows you to optimize even the most complex workflows.

Dedicated graphics allow you to join your friends for popular games

Even if you aren’t a hardcore gamer, there’s a good chance your friends have invited you to a pickup game of Rocket League or Call of Duty, or to an online event in the ever-expanding digital world of Fortnite. And while even low-powered laptops can handle casual games these days, you’ll find the experience a lot smoother with a hassle-free dedicated graphics chip—especially if your laptop has a high-resolution display. No need to mess with the game settings or frustrate yourself with choppy movement and game crashes–just fire it up and have a good time with your pals.

Of course, if you know gaming will be a top priority for your laptop, you’ll want something designed with today’s top titles in mind. Check out our TUF Gaming and Republic of Gamers series of laptops. Not only will they contain even more powerful graphics chips for top-tier gaming performance, but they come with high-refresh displays, dedicated hotkeys, and other features built for gaming first.

Integrated graphics handle the basics; dedicated graphics set you up for anything

All that said, most of your daily tasks won’t require a dedicated GPU. When you’re using your device for light, everyday tasks like browsing the web, writing up a project, or listening to music, your laptop will rely on the integrated graphics chip. If this is all you plan on using your laptop for, integrated graphics may be enough.

But there’s little downside to going with a more powerful graphics processor. Laptop GPUs are rather power efficient, and your computer will disable it when not in use, only kicking in when you load up games or creative apps that need them. And since many people tend to run these applications when they’re working at their desk or near a power outlet, you can get the extra power when you need it and keep the long battery life when you’re away from the wall.

So even if you only need integrated graphics right now, it may be worth futureproofing your machine with a more powerful dedicated graphics chip. Whether you’re an aspiring hobbyist or a college student still exploring your options, that GPU may come in more handy than you’d think down the line. Maybe you end up in a class or job that makes more use of it than you expected. Modern dance students, for example, often need to record, edit, and export videos—which would be much faster with a dedicated GPU in tow. Or maybe your life goes in a new direction—you wouldn’t be the first person to make a sudden career change and become a game developer. If you’re on the fence, a dedicated GPU ensures that your machine can handle far more of whatever you throw at it—now and well into the future.

 ModelGPUAvailability
Zenbook 14X OLEDUX5400EGGeForce MX450Newegg
Amazon
Vivobook Pro 16X OLEDN7600PCGeForce RTX 3050Newegg
Office Depot
Vivobook Pro 14 OLEDM3401QCGeForce RTX 3050Newegg
Amazon
Vivobook Pro 15 OLEDM3500QCGeForce RTX 3050Newegg
Adorama
Amazon
Best Buy
Micro Center
Walmart
Vivobook Pro 16X OLEDM7600QEGeForce RTX 3050 TiNewegg
Adorama
Amazon
Best Buy
B&H
Michael Electronics 2
Office Depot
Zenbook Pro Duo 15 OLEDUX582HMGeForce RTX 3060Amazon
Microsoft
UX582LRGeForce RTX 3070Newegg
Amazon
UX582HSGeForce RTX 3080Newegg
Amazon
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