If you’re looking to buy a new laptop, you might want to pay attention to its GPU or if it even has a dedicated one in the first place. Most laptops, especially the more affordable ones, have integrated graphics instead of a dedicated graphics card. While this might make sense if you’re a casual user, it certainly won’t do if you’re expecting more from your laptop. But before we get to know which one would be the right one for you, let’s understand what a GPU is and if you even need one in the first place.



GPU stands for Graphics Processing Unit and is a programmable logic chip that is specialized for display functions. In layman terms, the GPU is responsible for rendering images, animations and video on the screen. Hence, if your work revolves around intensive graphics usages, such as video editing or gaming, it’s imperative for you to have a GPU that is capable of handling your workload. Conversely, if your work consists of only casual browsing or document & spreadsheet editing, you might be able to do without a dedicated GPU.

Recommendations on the basis of your usage

Unlike with PCs, you won’t have the liberty to swap out the graphics card of a laptop. While there are some laptops that allow you to swap cards, they’re very expensive. So when you buy a laptop, make sure that the graphics card it has is perfectly suitable for your needs. To help you start, given below are a few recommendations on the basis of different scenarios.

Casual Usage

If you’re not going to subject your computer to high loads, but will only need it once in a while for some light editing or gaming, integrated graphics along with a mid-range processor should do just fine.

4K Video Editing

As a content creator, your life probably revolves around editing hours & hours of footage.  In such cases, having a capable graphics card can speed up processing to a great extent. The NVIDIA RTX 2080 and the Quadro RTX5000 are great options if you’re looking to edit 4K videos, with NVIDIA's recently launched mobile versions of its Quadro series. If you’re not looking at intensive editing tasks, you could also get something with a cheaper graphics card like the AMD Radeon RX 580 or NVIDIA GTX 1070.



CAD Software

For use cases in Computer-Aided Design, you are looking at very specific GPUs that work well with CAD software. The same graphics card might not be suitable for both CAD and gaming. So if you’re looking to buy a graphics card for CAD purposes, we’d suggest you hold out for laptops with mobile versions of the NVIDIA Quadro series. Multiple brands have announced models recently, that include the Quadro RTX 3000, RTX 4000 as well as RTX 5000 with complimentary hardware very well suited for this usage.



Gaming

If you’re looking to game on your rig, you would want to buy a laptop with a better graphics card that is capable of handling life-like visuals. If you’re looking to game in 1080p, an AMD Radeon RX 570 or an NVIDIA GTX 1050 should be sufficient. For 4K gaming or VR headsets, you might want to go with a high-end graphics card like the NVIDIA RTX 2060 or the AMD Radeon RX Vega 56.



Deep Learning & AI

New fields like Deep Learning and Artificial Intelligence require intense computational requirements. Hence, selecting the right GPU is essentially important. The NVIDIA RTX 2070 and the NVIDIA RTX 2060 are great choices for the required task at hand. By now, you should have a fair idea on how to select the right graphics card for your particular usage. But before you buy the laptop, make sure you cross-check every small detail to make sure you don’t land with a GPU that doesn’t suit your needs.

Like this story? Also read: How to buy your kid's first laptop
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