Intel's integrated graphics become better with each generation but they still compete only with the entry level dedicated video cards. That's why many users at some point begin to look for more performance. If the tips to improve Intel HD Graphics performance do not provide enough graphics boost for you, you should consider upgrading your Intel HD Graphics. Desktop users can do this pretty easy - they simply need to get a mid-range dedicated video card, insert it in a PCI Express x16 slot and voila, they will be able to enjoy games at their fullest. Unfortunately, if you are on a laptop or an All-in-One PC, then this most probably is not an option. Not everything is lost, however, continue reading this article and at the end you will know what are the options for upgrading your laptop's Intel HD Graphics, so that you can decide what's the best option for you.
- Attach an external graphics card (eGPU)
ExpressCard slot or a Thunderbolt port, you may be able to attach an external (desktop) video card to boost your graphics performance. The desktop video card will be bottlenecked by the lack of bandwidth of these ports, but it will still be considerably faster than the integrated graphics. Please, note that this solution requires some technical knowledge and is expensive as you will need a desktop video card, a PCI Express x16 to ExpressCard/Thunderbolt adapter, a power supply and a case to hold all these parts so that you do not have any loose wires on your desktop.
There are currently two popular ways over the Internet to connect an external video card to your laptop the cheaper being a do it yourself external GPU (DIY eGPY) and the more expensive but easier one being simply purchasing a ready to use housing for an external video card called Vidock. Discussing those solutions goes beyond this article, but if you interested in one of them, simply do a search for it and you will find a lot of information. According to me those eGPU solutions are way too expensive to be worth it, because for the same amount of money an external video card for a laptop would require you can sell your old laptop and get a new one - see option 3.
As the ports mentioned above are getting more and more rare in laptops, some users may ask: is it possible to connect a desktop video card to an USB port of a laptop? I can give a very clear answer to this question: DEFINITELY NOT. There are 2 main problems with USB ports - they are way too slow and they have way too high latency for a video card. Here are some numbers:
Port / Slot Bandwidth USB 2.0 0.48 Gbit/s USB 3.0 5.00 Gbit/s PCI-E 3.0 x16 126.03 Gbit/s
As you see from the table above, the PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot, which is currently used on desktop computers for video cards, is about 25 times faster than USB 3.0 and 262 times faster than USB 2.0. That is why you shouldn't even think about using an USB port for connecting a desktop video card. Stick to using it for USB flash drives, external hard disks and card readers and other similar peripherals, which do not require much speed, bandwidth and low latency.
- Upgrade the processor
- Sell the laptop and get a new one
Last but not least you can sell your current laptop and buy a new one with a new generation of CPU and integrated graphics or even a dedicated video card. According to me this is the best solution. Before getting the new laptop think about whether you really need the portability of a laptop, because for the same money you will be able to get a much stronger custom built desktop that will be able to handle games much better.