Getting more from your laptop video card can involve..
- Drivers - Make sure you have the latest drivers installed
- Application Suites – Get more from your graphics card
- Hardware acceleration settings – Make sure hardware acceleration is up to the max
- Minor Tweaks – what else can we do to eek out a bit more performance?
The laptop video card is perhaps the weakest link in most laptops, as such we get asked many times if video cards in laptop can be upgraded, 99% of the time the answer is no unfortunately, this is due to laptop video cards either being part of the motherboard or the shape has been specifically designed and there simply is nothing around that will physically fit.
But that is not the end of it; there is however a number of tweak and tips can give a performance boost to most types of laptop graphics card.
Always make sure you are using the latest laptop video card drivers, manufacturers and developers tweak their software drivers making the code more efficient with each software revision.
Do not just install the driver on its own, one of the biggest mistakes people make when upgrading video card drivers is just upgrading the laptop video card driver. Most manufacturers provide complete management suites too which should also be upgraded, these provide extra settings for features for Open GL or other hardware throttling
Laptop graphics card memory
If you laptop has dedicated memory then the chances are you will probably not be able to increase it, but saying that its worth checking as some do accept plug-in type modules.
The other type of laptop video card memory is the shared memory type, which generally offers less in the way of graphics ability than the dedicated type, with shared memory types you can increase and decrease the amount of video card RAM as it is shared with the main system RAM, so if you allocated 512mb to the video then thats 512mb that the system will lose, the best option here is to upgrade the laptops RAM so you can allocate the maximum amount of RAM to the laptop graphics card with minimal impact to the overall system RAM, this is either done though the graphic card/manufacturers software or the BIOS.
Many later laptops have dynamic video memory allocation which allocates memory on demand depending on video usage; even in this case increasing system RAM will give performance gains as more memory can be allocated to the video with lower cost to the systems resources.
Within Windows, right click on the Desktop and select Properties Settings Troubleshoot this will present the Hardware acceleration section the slider should be set to Full unless & Enable write combining should be ticked if you encounter any issues you can switch this off and trim back the Hardware acceleration slider.
Note just enabling write combining can in effect double the graphics performance by combining multiple writes to single operations which most modern video cards support.
More minor tweaks
To increase the performance further free up as many system resources as possible, this means only run applications that you are using.
Lower the color depth from Highest 32 bit, to Medium 16 bit check the difference in the look of images differences will be small if any. To do this right click on the desktop Properties Settings Color Quality
All the extra flashy Windows display options come at a price, disable these and setting your system to performance is another easy tweak. Start menu Control Panel System -Advanced tab under Performance choose Settings now you have 4 options
- Let Windows Choose – This will generally switch everything on.
- Adjust for best appearance – but lowest performance as it switches everything on.
- Adjust for best performance – No messing disables all unnecessary graphic options for maximum graphic performance
- Custom If you want to keep some of the XP look select the bottom 2, Use drop shadows and Use visual styles.