High Definition Graphics

Written by James McLean
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True high definition graphics mean more than simply displaying someone else's FX handiwork on your laptop. To qualify as high-definition, your machine must be able to render 3D art and gaming environments in real time without any ghosting, aliasing or other irritating visual effects. Needless to say, few laptops actually qualify these days.

By far the two most important considerations in purchasing a hi-def notebook are the graphics card and screen quality. Although multiple graphics cards hold 128MB of video RAM, not all utilize the same architecture to render what you see. Different power requirements, pixel pipelines and more can all conspire to create an image sharp as lightning or one that flows like mud.

ATI and Radeon

Probably the two best-known graphics card manufacturers are ATI and Nvidia. Each competes with each successive generation to exceed the other's benchmarks, and each tends to hold the lead at various times. These days, the Radeon series is probably best-respected in the gaming community, especially with the addition of ATI's popular 3Dc technology.

It's all acronyms and jargon until you see the cards in action. Experts advise checking the speeds of the cards you are considering, then taking the remaining time to find a solid LCD monitor that boasts a high refresh rate and small pixel size. When things look sharp and render quickly, a notebook computer can create whole worlds.


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