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In search of ... opinions on AMD vs Intel graphics cards

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* Dell Inspiron - AMD Radeon HD 8730M with 2G DDR3 VRAM - $860
* Toshiba Satellite - Mobile Intel - no VRAM specified - $880
Those are the basic differences 'tween two (2) laptops, one (1) of which I'm about to order.  The price difference is insignificant, as the Toshiba ships free, but the Dell has shipping costs, so they'll come within a couple-two-t'ree bucks of each other.  Both are large screen (17.3"), but I'm more interested in visual space than weight - I'm accustomed to lugging around a similar beast at the moment.

Both with i7 processors, 8G RAM, terabyte 5400 RPM drives.  Not wild about the speed, but I can live with it  :-\?  The Dell i7 is 2GHz, the Toshiba is 2.4GHz.

Problem is, I have virtually no knowledge of graphics cards  :huh:.  Not a [frequent] gamer, but I do engage in graphics work from time to time ... mostly CAD, SVG, or similar.

So, given the listed specs, which box would be the better value?  Which is likely to be more versatile?

AMD all the way...I am not an Intel fan at all.

Haven't compared specs (you didn't give much info on the Intel system anyway :)), but the AMD one will likely have the fastest graphics - Intel has come a long way with their HDxxxx graphics, but still lag behind... AMD bought up ATi, so, yeah...

If you don't need fancy 3D graphics, you might want to look at power consumption instead - Intel is likely going to have the upper hand here, as well as on CPU grunt, depending on which Intel CPU is in the Toshiba laptop. AMD just haven't been able to keep up since core2 was introduced, which is a shame (and quite a few yeas ago now).

Carol Haynes:
+1 for AMD
Intel mobile graphics suck  :down:

I'd give the edge to the Dell for what you're doing. The Radeon is definitely the better graphics choice. And unless you're doing something processor intensive (like heavy video transcoding or CGI) the differences in performance between an i7 running at 2.0Ghz and 2.4Ghz won't be material. Probably wouldn't be material even if you were. The i7 is a beast! Especially with 8Gb of RAM at its disposal.

+1 w/f0dder's note about power consumption. And don't forget about heat. Maybe they've since fixed it, but in the past. some Inspirons seemed to run very hot. So if you go with Dell please be aware of it. FWIW, if heat buildup is going to be a problem for your laptop,  my experience has always been it happens very early on. If it doesn't manifest in the first two or three months of use it usually won't happen.

re: 5400rpm  drive speed. It's fine. Faster drives just run hotter and use more battery power. Not worth it for the small amount of increased performance you'd get. If you need really fast disk access, bite the bullet and get an SSD. Don't bother installing a faster standard disk drive. I have a WD Scorpio Black 750 (WD7500BPKT-6) running at 7200 in the laptop I'm using right now. It runs noticeably hotter than the failed 5400rpm Hitachi it replaced. And its real world performance isn't that much better that I'd buy this same drive again if I were shopping for a replacement disk today.

Also, one other thing to consider is where and how any warranty service will get done.

I've generally been unimpressed with Toshi's service options. YMMV. Dell is a lot easier (at least where I am) to get repaired. Something to think about since fixing a laptop usually involves more trouble and expense than fixing a desktop would.



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