Laptops are rapidly conquering user desks. The advantages provided by such a device are obvious. First of all, it is mobility. After all, you can work with a laptop almost everywhere, both sitting at your desktop, and being in almost any place. Moreover, the range of tasks is by no means limited to work activities. Watching videos and listening to your favorite music, and of course, computer games – all this is available on laptops.
It would seem that the solution is obvious: just change the video card in a laptop to a more powerful model. Indeed, in desktop computers it takes literally a couple of minutes, if you count directly the opening of the case and replacing the board. With laptops, everything turns out to be more complicated. The fact is that in attempts to provide their products with a sufficient level of mobility, manufacturers were forced to make certain compromises.
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Integrated Mobile Graphics
First of all, traditional graphics cards for a desktop computer were too bulky. Their installation inside the laptop significantly increased the size of the device. Indeed, to ensure high-quality heat dissipation, the graphics card must be well cooled. And this means that you need either a radiator or a fan. But in both cases, additional space is required, which is not much inside the mobile computer.
As a result, a fairly simple solution was found. Instead of using a full-fledged discrete graphics card, laptops began to be equipped with integrated video processing subsystems. In the simplest case, such a system does not have a specialized processor responsible for working with graphic information. Moreover, she does not even have her own dedicated video memory. As a result, it turns out that a part of the resources of a conventional processor and a certain percentage of RAM are used to display the picture. Naturally, such a system is weaker than a separate video card with a full-fledged graphics processor (GPU) and memory (GDDR).
However, such solutions have a significant minus: video card replacement becomes impossible. Indeed, in the modern version the graphics subsystem is integrated into the central processor itself. It is impossible to change part of the processor, since it is a solid crystal. The only way out is to replace the entire CPU with a more advanced model. However, in this case, you need to make sure that the installed processor is supported by the motherboard. First of all, you should check the slot, because it is he who is responsible for the fastening and operation of this component. In addition, you need to make sure that the BIOS of the motherboard correctly recognizes the processor. Otherwise, there is a risk that the system simply turns out to be inoperable, even if the processor module and slot fit together.
In addition, there are systems with a graphics module as part of the chipset. It is also problematic for them to dismantle and replace part of the structure. Therefore, the option with integrated graphics, by and large, does not imply the possibility of improvement or replacement.
Discrete Graphics Cards
However, there are laptop models that use discrete graphics adapter. The word "discrete", that is, a separate one, hints at the possibility of replacement if necessary. But in reality, the improvement process can be very complex and expensive.
The reason is that many “discrete” video cards are not really separate. Rather, they are not separable from the motherboard, because they are simply soldered to it. In this case, to increase the performance of the graphics subsystem, you will first need to carefully remove the old card module (aka a graphics chip), and then connect the contacts to the legs of the new one. Naturally, it is rather difficult to cope with such work for a layman, and even without the appropriate equipment. It is no coincidence that replacing such a video card in a service center can cost a round sum.
Truly Discrete Cards: MXM
Of course, consumer inquiries did not go unnoticed. The growing demand for models with full-fledged productive graphics cards has led to the emergence of even gaming laptops. They mount such graphic solutions that are practically not inferior in their indicators to analogs from desktop computers.
Use in mobile devices has led to the emergence of separate form factors and special connectors. Of the most popular systems can be called MXM standard, which is the mobile edition of PCI Express. There are a number of other solutions that were promoted by individual firms (for example, Axion from ATI or some DELL products), but they currently have no serious weight.
And exactly MXM compatible graphics cards can be changed quite easily. The fact is that existing varieties of the standard (MXM-I, MXM-II, MXM-III, MXM-HE) allow the installation of modules with a lower version number. In other words, even an MXM-I card can be inserted in the MXM-HE slot, while inserting the MXM-III into the MXM-II slot will not work even physically. The dimensions of the standard are designed to support previous revisions: previously released graphics cards in most cases will work in the new connector.
So if the laptop has an MXM slot, replacing a video card in a laptop It becomes quite simple. It is only necessary to carefully disassemble the device and not to confuse the order of unscrewing the fixing screws. In addition, it may be necessary to remove various structural elements (for example, a cooling system). Before carrying out such a procedure, it is strongly recommended that you familiarize yourself with the disassembly of the laptop. Better yet, contact a service center where specialists with sufficient experience working with mobile devices work. In this case, all that is required is provide the necessary graphics card. However, in many cases, even this is not necessary, since the center’s employees themselves will be able to choose the appropriate option.
Graphics Card Replacement Algorithm
To summarize, we can confidently say: in some cases replace or upgrade a graphics card quite possible. At the same time, several stages of this procedure are distinguished. First you need to figure out exactly which graphics adapter is installed in the laptop (this can be done, for example, using CPU-Z). If it is integrated into the processor, then replacement is possible only with the installation of a new CPU. If the system has a graphic chip that is soldered to the motherboard, then in some cases replacement is possible. However, this is a rather time-consuming procedure, which only a qualified specialist can do if the necessary equipment is available. So the price can be a bite. And finally, if a fully-fledged discrete video card is installed in the laptop (for example, that complies with the MXM standard), then the replacement in its simplicity comes close to a similar operation with a desktop computer. You just need to make sure that the laptop slot is compatible with the new card, and strictly follow the disassembly-assembly procedure.