if i were to buy a laptop to mainly use for my Steam games (casual, nothing too serious), would i need a model with a dedicated graphics card (820M, 745M, etc) or would the CPU's own graphics be sufficient? is a game bought via Steam somehow less graphically demanding than the same game bought direct?
price point would be $600 Canadian or thereabouts.
question1. dedicated GPU is always necessary for 3 dimentional games.
Most games are too demanding for a CPU.
GPU's work differently than CPU's !
Online (Steam) games are best with a Desktop cause they have better power, more cooling etc... Other players are always better, faster, les lag, better graphics settings (=more details) cause they work with desktops !
Question2. Games bought via Steam are the same than bought directly. Sometimes there is a modification in some menu's but graphically the same !
The dedicated graphics solutions found on mobile CPUs are already underwhelming relative to their desktop counterparts. Heck, the mobile CPU itself is already underwhelming vs. it's desktop big brothers. As others have said, the power consumption levels will be lower, and their heat levels will be higher in the small enclosure.
Not being able to draw as much power, heating up faster, and lower performance vs. desktop counterparts (which is often the result of the first two), means that to play any modern 3D games, even on the lowest settings, would call for a dedicated mobile GPU... even one that's not powerful.
That being said, if all you're playing is, say, World of Goo, or Bastion, or Osmos, or And Yet it Moves. If your 'casual' games are games on that caliber, then I think the build-in graphics on the processor would be OK, pending the processor is a fairly modern one.
so if these two (links below) were about as much as i could justify for a gaming laptop, would they not be worth the effort? one of my fav games is Assassin's Creed, which i got into on my X360. i'm not into online play or shooters like BF4 / COD since i'd probably frag EVERYONE in sight even if they're on my side (though i did enjoy the Halo stuff on X360, senselessly killing EVERYTHING that moved).