7 Replies Latest reply on Jul 12, 2013 12:29 PM by hunterbuchanan

    Integrated graphics + discrete card: what happens when it's not in use?


      First, the question: if you have a Sandy Bridge (or later) CPU with HD graphics included, but you run a discrete graphics card instead, does the CPU-included graphics just idle and gather dust, so to speak? Or does it contribute in some secondary way?


      Second, the background: I help users with my group customize Dell machines when they want to order new computers. As far as desktops go, our Dell discount applies to OptiPlex, Vostro, and Precision machines. Lots of these users have very large computing stipends, and want fast machines, so I point them at a Precision. When putting together different Precision configurations with discrete graphics, I come across a conundrum: Do I choose the Core i7-4770 with integrated graphics, or the Xeon E3-1240v3 with the *exact* same specs (it's true, look 'em up!), sans graphics? I can save about $50 choosing the Xeon, but if the HD 4600 graphics can contribute alongside a discrete card, it might be worth it to keep the i7. They don't NEED the Xeon for a particular reason.

        • 1. Re: Integrated graphics + discrete card: what happens when it's not in use?

          Hello hunterbuchanan,


          It is important that as soon as you connect a discrete graphics cards, the onboard video will be automatically disabled.


          Checking both processor specifications, both are very similar however, it is important to mention that the processor I7-4770 has the onboard graphics card Intel® HD graphics 4600. You can check the processor specifications at the following link:




          As previously mention, as soon as you connect an external video card the onboard video will be disabled. You can use both resources for different tasks when using special software for this purpose but when you are not using the software only one Graphics resource will be available.

          • 2. Re: Integrated graphics + discrete card: what happens when it's not in use?

            I have the opposite question: Can I manually turn off (using the BIOS or by other means) a discrete graphics card and rely on the onboard video when not doing graphically-intensive work on my PC? I ask because some graphics cards use as much power as the CPU and therefore create a lot of heat that has to be exhausted by (noisy) fans. I'm very tired of my old noisy Dells. I'm considering buying a desktop pc with an i7-4770 (or even the 4770s for less power usage--would I notice the difference in non-gaming applications?) and since I'm not a gamer I think I will rarely need a discrete graphics card since its onboard graphics are so good. I assume that if I can turn off the discrete graphics card its fan will also shut off, saving a lot of noise. (I'd like to buy a pc without a discrete graphics card but I haven't been able to find a reasonably priced one.)


            Thanks for any information.


            PS If you know of a good pc that comes with the i7-4770 or 4770s but no video card please tell me.

            • 3. Re: Integrated graphics + discrete card: what happens when it's not in use?

              You can configure a Dell Precision T1700 with an i7-4770 and no discrete video card for about $1000 (give or take). Or, build it! Any Z87 chipset motherboard should come with a DVI port to take advantage of the integrated Intel HD graphics.

              • 4. Re: Integrated graphics + discrete card: what happens when it's not in use?

                Thanks Hunter,


                I'm looking at an XPS 8700 with an i7-4770 that will cost only about $550 after a bunch of discounts, most of which aren't available on the Precision line. I don't understand how Dell can build a machine for that price. It comes with a stock AMD HD7570, which I gather is a pretty low-end video card, but there's no way to delete it from the build at this price. Are Precisions better machines in terms of component quality than XPSs  (e.g., motherboards, hard drives)? I don't care about the features that help IT administrators since the computer is for use at home.


                I'm still curious about my original question: can you manually turn off an integrated video card? Also, if you do turn it off, thus turning on the CPU's onboard graphics, does that make the CPU use more energy and therefore need more fan cooling? I assume it does but that the net of switching graphics processing from a discrete card to the CPU is to reduce cooling needs. If I can't turn off the graphics card manually, could I just unplug it from the power supply and motherboard (and change a setting somewhere?) to disable it permanently?


                Any thoughts?


                • 5. Re: Integrated graphics + discrete card: what happens when it's not in use?

                  The features that are inherently nicer on the Precision line are minor. The case, cables, and other small parts are all higher quality than on the XPS towers. The warranties on Precision machines go from 3-5 years, while I believe 1-3 are your options on the XPS ones. For a home computer, you're probably better off getting the XPS and pulling out the HD7570. It would cost more to build an i7-4770 computer from scratch without a discrete card, to be honest. $550 for a computer like that is pretty amazing.


                  As for your original question: after kevin_intel answered the question and a bit more research, it looks like these Intel chipsets don't allow for that much customization with discrete and integrated graphics together. If you have a discrete card installed, it will be used no matter what. You may be able to install software to use the integrated graphics for a little added power in tandem with the discrete card, but you can't switch between the two.


                  I do not recommend unplugging the power cable for the video card. The motherboard will still recognize it; it just won't work properly. Your ideal solution: Use that computer with the discrete graphics card only for high-power needs, and use another computer for low-power needs. Maybe a tablet, or a really cheap/old desktop? That kind of switching just isn't offered.

                  • 6. Re: Integrated graphics + discrete card: what happens when it's not in use?

                    You're correct about the warranty--it's only 1 year standard on the XPS. The pricing is amazing to me also (I'm counting a bunch of discounts, including a student-only $200 card good for other electronics as a price reduction since I need to buy a monitor also). As for not using the HD7570, I meant that I would disconnect if from all its connections--power and motherboard (and even physically remove it from the case if I thought that would improve airflow). Is that what you meant by "pulling out the HD7570." I assume there would have to be some drivers and/or settings changed also, since Dell will have set the machine up for a discrete graphics card. Am I missing something else that would need to be done? Or does the motherboard automatically recognize that the graphics card has been removed and adjust accordingly (that seems way too optimistic!)? I think I've read that the i7-4770 always comes with integrated graphics, even on machines sold with discrete cards, so I assume it is possible to reset the 8700 to use them. Does the i7-4770 automatically adjust its fan speeds to account for use of its integrated graphics (which presumably generate some additional heat)?


                    Thanks for the information about the Intel chipsets not using both onboard and discrete graphics simultaneously. That's good to know. I don't think I'll need to bother with any software to try to use both simultaneously. I'm not very knowledgeable so 'the less fiddlin' the better' is my motto.



                    • 7. Re: Integrated graphics + discrete card: what happens when it's not in use?

                      In general, most of these problems are ones that would have caused a lot of trouble a few years ago. Nowadays, advanced chipsets and operating systems help these problems fix themselves! Remove the video card from the case entirely, plug your monitor into the integrated port, and let the PC do its magic. It will recognize that the discrete card is gone, switch to the integrated one on the i7 (and yes, the i7-4770 always comes with integrated graphics regardless), then when Windows starts it should grab the proper driver by itself. If it doesn't, go to the Driver Detection Tool on www.intel.com and it will find exactly the correct driver for your i7.


                      The motherboard should be set by default to adjust fan speed dynamically. Basically, if you follow your "less fiddlin'" rule, most everything should fix itself once you remove the HD7570.