Intel HD Graphics is one of the most commonly used graphics processing units (GPU) today. Millions of desktops, laptops and ultrabooks rely on it for graphics processing tasks, so if you are not a hardcore gamer, chances are that you own a device equipped with it. Intel HD Graphics is integrated into the processor, which provides much greater performance than previous generations of integrated GPUs. What's common with the previous generations of integrated graphics is that Intel HD Graphics does not have a memory of its own but rather dynamically takes memory from system's RAM to use for graphics needs. This behavior usually raises some questions in Intel HD Graphics owners and that's exactly what this article deals with - it gives the answers to the most frequently asked questions about Intel HD Graphics.
- Does Intel HD Graphics have dedicated memory?
No, Intel HD Graphics takes memory from the system RAM. The amount of memory shown as dedicated by Windows is actually the minimum amount of shared memory Intel HD Graphics is using.
- How much memory does Intel HD Graphics have?
In Windows 7, to see the amount of graphics memory of your video card, right click on your desktop, select Screen resolution and then click Advanced settings. You will see the minimum and maximum amount of graphics memory in the "Adapter" tab page. Note that the minimum amount of shared memory may be shown as dedicated, but it is not actually dedicated, as Intel HD Graphics does not have dedicated memory, so look at the dedicated memory shown as the minimum amount of graphics memory available.
The screenshot on the right shows how this dialog looks. As you see, the total amount of graphics memory for Intel HD Graphics is usually about 1.7GB, but it may be less if your computer has 4GB or less RAM or your computer's manufacturer has configured your Intel HD Graphics differently.
- How to improve Intel HD Graphics performance?
There are many tips and tricks over the Internet for improving Intel's integrated graphics performance in order to get the max out of it in games and graphics intensive tasks, but here are the 4 methods I have found to boost Intel HD Graphics performance most.
- How to increase Intel HD Graphics "dedicated" memory?
Some games scan your computer's graphics card properties and refuse to run if the computer reports that the graphics card's dedicated video memory is below a specific amount (e.g. 512 MB). As Windows usually reports a much smaller amount for Intel HD Graphics some games simply refuse to run, although they may be perfectly playable. There are two possible solutions to this problem:
- Apply the latest patches and updates of the game and update your graphics card driver. If this does not solve the problem, search over the Internet for a fix - many games have a configuration file (usually an ordinary text file), which can be edited in some way to fix the problem, for example some games lets you specify your graphics card deicated memory in there.
- Check out your computer's BIOS. You may have an option to set Intel HD Graphics amount of shared memory there. Some desktops offer this option, but it is not commonly available on laptops. Contact your computer's manufacturer for more information.
- I have an Intel HD Graphics and a dedicated video card, do they work together?
No. There are 2 possibilities - either your Intel HD Graphics works when your computer is performing not graphics intensive tasks and the dedicated video starts working when a graphics intensive application (for example a game) is started or only the dedicated video card is working all the time and the Intel HD Graphics is disabled. The first approach is commonly used in laptops as it conserves energy and makes your laptop's battery last longer.
- Can I upgrade/change/replace Intel HD Graphics?
The short answer is yes if you are on a desktop and no if you are on a laptop.
Almost all desktops (except for some of those in mini cases and All-in-One PCs) have one or more PCI express slots where you can put a powerful dedicated video card and greatly boost your computer's graphics and gaming performance. Note that currently every dedicated video card above the $100 mark greatly outperforms Intel HD Graphics and will let you play the latest games at least on medium settings.
If you are on a laptop, you are out of luck. Most laptops do not allow you to upgrade/change their video card. The exceptions are very rare - only some expensive custom built gaming laptops have this possibility. In case your laptop has an ExpressCard slot or a Thunderbolt port you may connect an external desktop video card to it (for example a ViDock or a DIY eGPU), but in my opinion this is way too expensive and not worth it, because for the same amount of money you will be able to buy a budget desktop with a nice dedicated graphics card that will be able to utilize the full power of the video card. The following article provides some more details and ways on how to upgrade Intel HD Graphics on a laptop.