After work-provided laptop has Intel HD Graphics in a Core i5-480M. It works fine for the basic needs. It wasn't unitl much later that I discovered it fails to give optimum provision for my needs. I will get it the details of that later in my post; but for now I know I need to change something (graphics card/processor or computer).
So to identify the specific limitations of what I have vs. what I can get, (ie. 2nd Gen) I wanted to find out which accelerator I actually have. So far, I figured I DO NOT have the 2nd generation HD Graphics; but please correct me if I'm wrong. Here are a few specs:
Laptop: Acer Aspire 5742
System: Windows 7 Home (SP1)
Chip: HD Graphics (Core i5-480)
Even though I didn't find i5-480M in this list I figured it's probably not a 2nd gen since its name was more similar to the lower generations'.
So here are my needs:
Higher/Better Resolution: The 1366x768 on my laptop looks great but I want something that can match the sweet capabilities of my Dell monitor - U3011 (ie. VGA - 2048x1280; DVI - 2560x1600; HDMI - 1920x1200). Currently, I only have HDMI and VGA outputs on my laptop. I use the HDMI since the VGA (though supposedly higher resolution) looks horrible and an HDMI/VGA to DVI adapter looks even worse since it seems to downgrade the resolution to 1600x1200.
Better 3D Processing: Specifically, Im more interested in a processor that supports "anti-aliasing" as it seems what I have now doesn't. Gaming looks fine; but it renders application-created 3D models with rough edges.
So here's the questions:
Out of the realm of Intel, if Intel fails to provide a solution; I guess I'd have to switch to a graphics card... which probably means a new computer.. or doesn't it? Is there such thing as an external graphics card? (I'm yet to look that up so I thought I'd add to my post while at it).
What do you guys recommend?
You system in fact features the first generation of video controllers, called Intel® HD Graphics, which do not have the same processing and performance capabilities of the second generation. The specifications for your processor and graphics controller integrated are available here:
Concerning using higher video resolutions, the best experience that you can get using 1080p or 1080i is using a HDMI or DVI interface. For higher resolutions you should look for a system with Displayport.
For improved 3D processing you should look for a system based on Intel® HD Graphics 3000.
Updating the integrated video controller to use Intel® HD Graphics 2000 or 3000 will not be possible since they are integrated on different processors that cannot be physically installed into your system. In this case I suggest you to check with your laptop manufacturer to see what options do you have to upgrade your system.