The GPU or graphics processing unit of your laptop handles the rendering of 3D elements on your unit. Each task requires a certain graphics power, much so the likes of gaming, video editing, and animation. For power users who perform graphics-intensive digital tasks, a dedicated and discrete GPU is a must-have. The best laptop for animation and graphic design wouldn’t be efficient without an optimal GDDR memory.
Take note that it’s not just about how large the memory is; the quality of the GPU itself is also important to consider. To get the best GPU, we’ve written a comprehensive guide for you:
Where are you going to use it?
Identifying first where you’re going to use the GPU is the first step. A GPU that’s powerful enough for video-editing may not be enough for heavy gaming. Consider the resolution of the graphics before deciding what you will buy. For example, a GPU efficient-enough for 1080p gaming wouldn’t be enough for 4K gaming.
The same goes for video editing, animation, and graphics-heavy digital processes. The higher the resolution the more powerful GPU you should get. On this post, we will focus on gaming options with specific brands and units that you can purchase.
NVIDIA or AMD?
Most laptops nowadays are either equipped with an NVIDIA or AMD graphics unit. Both brands are excellent but do know that their products aren’t always diamonds. Also, some companies licensed by these brands can also sell NVIDIA and AMD GPUs under a different name. For example, the likes of EVGA, MSI, ASUS, and Gigabyte all sell NVIDIA and AMD graphics cards.
The only difference is that each company will have their own cooling systems. As you know, gaming consumes a lot of power in a shorter period of time. A big chunk of this energy is converted into heat, thus making a gaming laptop a heat machine.
But based on history, specs, and performance, which of these two major brands produce the best GPUs? Technically, we have to give it to NVIDIA. They have a much better line of graphics cards, setting aside the price. The GTX series from NVIDIA is popular among gamers due to its topnotch performance and reasonable price. A budget laptop for graphic design may not always have this.
We also have to factor in that graphics cards come in different tiers. There are tiers where AMD can give better price and performance while NVIDIA may rule other tiers. It’s all about what you exactly need.
The games you play
As much as you can purchase a general-purpose gaming graphics card, it pays to consider the games you’re going to run on your laptop. As a serious gamer, you should know something about the GPU and CPU requirements for each game software. Read the following before purchasing the best laptop for animation and graphic design.
Let’s take a rundown on some of the famous games here: the likes of Minecraft, League of Legends, and DOTA 2 can run in most discrete GPUs. But in the case of PUBG, The Witcher 3, and most VR games, you need a better GPU. If not, the graphics won’t display smoothly and your gaming experience will be compromised.
If you want a low-cost GPU for your taxing games, I’m afraid you won’t find any. When it comes to premium hardware, nothing is cheap. But personally, splurging is totally worth it.
Here are some of the best graphics cards for the most famous games. I also included the estimated price:
🎮PUGB – NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 chipset can support up 7,400 pixels as well as 5K VR games. Even at high-res settings, this GPU will be a champ for PUBG. Right now this costs around $1,000. It’s a very expensive, but a total beast for PC games. Sad to say, you can’t find this on a budget laptop for graphic design.
🎮RoS (Rules of Survival) – NVIDIA GeForce GTX 96
For this graphics card, you’ll have 2GB of memory with up to 7 GBPS of the memory clock. It can support up to 4 monitors and a digital resolution of up to 5120 x 3200.
🎮Battlefield 1 – AMD RX 570 4GB or NVIDIA GTX 1060 3 GB
For intense gaming, these two options would be more than enough to support Battlefield 1’s graphics. The AMD RX 570 can support up to 5 monitors and a gaming mode of up to 1244 MHz.
🎮Rocket League – GeForce GTX 660
Unlike PUBG and RoS, the Rocket League isn’t very tough to run. Still, it requires a decent GPU to run in a max 1080p setting without any glitch. The perfect pair here is GeForce GTX 660 that’s compatible with the latest DirectX 11 as well as NVIDIA PhysX-based games.
🎮Divinity: Original Sin 2 – GeForce GTX 770
For this game, the GTX 770 will be a perfect choice. It can support 4 displays and up to 4096 x 2160 of digital resolution.
The perfect TDP value
When it comes to gaming GPUs, always look for the lowest possible TDP. This stands for Thermal Design Power which refers to the amount of heat the GPU produces during operation. The higher the TDP is, the hotter the device will get while you’re gaming. It’s also the best laptop for animation and graphic design.
Of course, you wouldn’t want an overheating laptop or PC. Aside from the steak-searing temperature, too much heat also translates to noise as other hardware components try to keep up for cooling.
Each manufacturer will have different readings for this part. What matters is that the TDR matches with the cooling system build around it. A mid-TDR value should do well given that the cooling hardware can control the heat.
The core of the graphics card
The number of the cores in a GPU dictates how many tasks it can handle simultaneously. So the many cores there are the better if you want more power. However, this can also affect the price of the unit in case you’re a bit tight on budget.
The rule of thumb for mainstream games is around 6-8 GPU cores. However, you should be wary about bottlenecking. This happens when your CPU can’t keep up with the power of your GPU. As much as your graphics card can perform tons of tasks at a time, your slow-performing CPU may drag the process down.
With that, make sure that your CPU and GPU speak the same language. A higher number of GPU cores call for an equally higher number of CPU cores. This way, your laptop or PC will run smoothly.
The memory capacity of the graphics card
Like your laptop’s RAM, a GPU also contains a specific amount of memory. Aside from seeking to get the biggest memory your budget can afford, you should also look into the type. GPU memory falls under GDDR2, GDDR3, GDDR4, GDDR5, and GDDR5X.
Like Intel processors, the number sequence states how latest and powerful the GPU is. The higher the number on the graphics card type, the better it is for gaming. Take note, though, that GDDR5X can be pricey, setting aside the cooling system that may come with it.
The amount of memory you need depends on the game you’re playing. If it’s a graphics-intensive one like PUBG, investing on at least 8GB of GDDR5 memory would be the best choice. If you can afford, upgrade to 11 GB.
Aside from the memory capacity and type, don’t forget to check the bandwidth of the GPU. The bandwidth is the amount of data that the GPU can access at a time. If you’re playing heavy games, always look for higher bandwidth. Such a thing will ensure that more image frames are projected per second.
A bandwidth of 200+ GBPS is a gold standard for mainstream PC games. This should be powerful enough to produce popping graphics.
Refresh rate/resolution of the laptop screen
At this point, we’re going to look at two aspects: the resolution on which you’re playing and the max resolution of your laptop screen.
The resolution of each game can be tweaked in either low or high settings. However, to achieve an optimal gaming experience, serious gamers want to max it out to its full version. For example, if you’re playing a 4K game, going down at 1080p may not be the best in terms of display and performance.
Why not stick to the highest settings? Given that you have a graphics card that can support up to a 4K display, you have one more thing to consider: the resolution of your screen. Gaming laptops can range from 2K to 4K resolutions. Make sure that what you have will match the settings that you want to use. Otherwise, you’ll have to use a separate monitor just to maximize your game’s full graphics.
Lastly, we have to check the refresh rate of your monitor. The higher it is, the more work your GPU has to do. With that, you have to ensure that the resolution, graphics card, and screen refresh rate match each other’s configuration.
Be it for the best laptop for animation and graphic design or gaming, you need a reliable graphics card. What do you think of this post? Let us know below!