eGPUs and general GPU questions

gregofficial

Prominent
Dec 3, 2017
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510
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First, please excuse me for my lack of knowledge, I am just starting to get the hang of computer hardware after buying a new laptop.

I just bought a Dell XPS 15 and it states it has a Nvidia GTX 1050 and also Intel HD Graphics 630. From my limited understanding, they are both graphics cards, so why is there two?

Also...
I use the computer primarily for work (ie video editing, animation, 3d modeling, etc) and it works great. But recently I have got more into gaming. I was looking into spending another couple thousand dollars on a desktop, but recently read about external GPUs. Does anyone have any experience/advice/recommendations that would help me out in making a decision?

For example: Are they worth it? Do you get the same performance out of them as you would from a desktop? Can you easily switch back to the 'internal' graphics easily for when I'm working and traveling? Etc.

I know these are probably very newbie questions, but this forum has been alot of help in the past.

Thank you!
 

GreyCatz

Admirable
Hello, Greg:

1. The Intel HD 630 is an 'Integrated Graphics Processor' and it's built into the CPU. Typically, this unit is referred to as 'onboard graphics' in the specifications. The nVidia GTX 1050 is an added graphics unit, and it's typically referred to as 'dedicated' or 'discreet' graphics. The IGP will allow you to use the computer for basic tasks while the dedicated card provides extra graphics output for more demanding operations, e.g. complex games and graphical software.

2. The IGP in your Dell has enough power to run games like League of Legends and CS:GO and use software like Adobe PhotoShop. The 1050 card will allow you to play games like Tomb Raider and similar complex 3D games. Before spending money on a new machine, visit Steam and check the recommended hardware specifications. I'm pretty sure your particular CPU/GPU combo will go a long way.

3. You can switch between the IGP and the nVidia card via the nVidia Control Panel (Windows Control Panel>Hardware and sound).

4. eGPUs or external GPUs come in 2 varieties:
(a) Very basic do-it-yourself kits with prices ranging from $50 to $150. They are primarily aimed at older machines with very limited graphics output.
PRO: Offers significant graphics improvement and extends your laptop's life-cycle with a modest investment.
CON: You have to be rather tech-savvy to find your way around ExpressCard slots and PCMCIA interfaces, and the setup is rather a mess to look at. On that note, your laptop is no longer a portable device because (1) you often have to remove the bottom panel to access the required slot, and (2) often this setup only works on an external monitor, i.e. your laptop effectively becomes a desktop. And note: The list of supported graphics cards is limited to cards that are 2-3 years old and older, and the setup also only works on a limited number of laptops.
Here's a YouTube user showing such a DIY kit with a 9-year-old Toshiba:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_3AJ8-2GUc&t=215s

And here's a link to an eGPU resource offering tips and advice as well as a list of supported machines:
https://egpu.io/expresscard-2-0-egpu-interface-pros-cons-candidate-notebook-list/

(b) Out-of-the-box ready units with sleek design and little to no effort required. Prices starting from $300. These can be used with new machines and typically use Thunderbolt 3 ports.
PRO: Easy to implement and you can use the laptop screen as well as an external monitor. The units may be large and bulky, but the design is rather more purposeful and discreet. They also support newer and more powerful graphics cards.
CON: Quite expensive and they require a 'real' Thunderbolt port - not the charging variety - and not all manufacturers provide this feature.
Here's a YouTube user demonstrating such a unit with a brand-new Lenovo Yoga 720:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CqyLtXaYf8&t=835s

Not knowing what games you want to play, I have to say that your Dell is a very powerful machine as it is and I can't see any need to spend more money on an external GPU.

Cheers,
GreyCatz.
 

GreyCatz

Admirable
Hello, Greg:

1. The Intel HD 630 is an 'Integrated Graphics Processor' and it's built into the CPU. Typically, this unit is referred to as 'onboard graphics' in the specifications. The nVidia GTX 1050 is an added graphics unit, and it's typically referred to as 'dedicated' or 'discreet' graphics. The IGP will allow you to use the computer for basic tasks while the dedicated card provides extra graphics output for more demanding operations, e.g. complex games and graphical software.

2. The IGP in your Dell has enough power to run games like League of Legends and CS:GO and use software like Adobe PhotoShop. The 1050 card will allow you to play games like Tomb Raider and similar complex 3D games. Before spending money on a new machine, visit Steam and check the recommended hardware specifications. I'm pretty sure your particular CPU/GPU combo will go a long way.

3. You can switch between the IGP and the nVidia card via the nVidia Control Panel (Windows Control Panel>Hardware and sound).

4. eGPUs or external GPUs come in 2 varieties:
(a) Very basic do-it-yourself kits with prices ranging from $50 to $150. They are primarily aimed at older machines with very limited graphics output.
PRO: Offers significant graphics improvement and extends your laptop's life-cycle with a modest investment.
CON: You have to be rather tech-savvy to find your way around ExpressCard slots and PCMCIA interfaces, and the setup is rather a mess to look at. On that note, your laptop is no longer a portable device because (1) you often have to remove the bottom panel to access the required slot, and (2) often this setup only works on an external monitor, i.e. your laptop effectively becomes a desktop. And note: The list of supported graphics cards is limited to cards that are 2-3 years old and older, and the setup also only works on a limited number of laptops.
Here's a YouTube user showing such a DIY kit with a 9-year-old Toshiba:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_3AJ8-2GUc&t=215s

And here's a link to an eGPU resource offering tips and advice as well as a list of supported machines:
https://egpu.io/expresscard-2-0-egpu-interface-pros-cons-candidate-notebook-list/

(b) Out-of-the-box ready units with sleek design and little to no effort required. Prices starting from $300. These can be used with new machines and typically use Thunderbolt 3 ports.
PRO: Easy to implement and you can use the laptop screen as well as an external monitor. The units may be large and bulky, but the design is rather more purposeful and discreet. They also support newer and more powerful graphics cards.
CON: Quite expensive and they require a 'real' Thunderbolt port - not the charging variety - and not all manufacturers provide this feature.
Here's a YouTube user demonstrating such a unit with a brand-new Lenovo Yoga 720:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CqyLtXaYf8&t=835s

Not knowing what games you want to play, I have to say that your Dell is a very powerful machine as it is and I can't see any need to spend more money on an external GPU.

Cheers,
GreyCatz.
 

gregofficial

Prominent
Dec 3, 2017
5
0
510
0
Wow again in impressed! Very quick but very very detailed response! Thank you!

I have been trying to play much more graphics intense games, specifically DCS World. It's works pretty well except when I get into combat with lots of enemies and missiles/bombs/guns/rockets are flying everywhere.

I think I'll go with one of the out of the box models. I don't want to be taking apart the laptop. Thank you again.
 
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