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I am thinking on upgrading the hardware of my thinkpad T60 (I want to stick to 4:3 aspect ratio, while saving my old motherboard just in case I need a replacement, and I don't have the money to buy a T61p motherboard and its CPU to fit on my chassis).
So my idea is to buy a motherboard for the T60p and fit it in. However, you can find them with two different integrated graphic cards. My options are a
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950
256MB ATI Mobility FireGL V5250
I literally don't know how those work, and they have very similar specifications, and price (Intel is a bit cheaper). I have 0 experience with Intel, so I don't know if I'll have problems... As far as I understand it works out of the box just fine, but I would love to be sure. Which one shall I get?
Thanks in advance
Last edited by vladimir1986; 08-09-2014 at 04:30 PM.
The FireGL Mobility V5250 is basically a rebranded Mobile Radeon X1700, which is by far more powerful than the GMA 950, you will need to use the open source drivers for both GPUs (the X1700 is not supported by the proprietary drivers anymore).
If I had to choose between those two I would go for the AMD GPU, more power, better support (while Intel has good open source drivers they concentrate their efforts on the latest GPUs, while for AMD work is still done on older GPUs).
I don't actually think that speed is an issue. (see, my games are limited to duke eduke32, Darkplaces (Quake), other Ms-Dos oldies, freeciv, and maybe Rome Total War, Dwarf Fortress)... I never had a computer powerful enough to go over mid 2000 games.
I do have now an Ati X1300, and I have problem with many games. Steam won't work on me anymore either I always try the free dirvers, and it works fine, except for those games. My worry is that eventually even the FireGL will have the same problem. As it never happened with the nouveau drivers on another laptop I owned I was wondering if Intel would solve it.
I think I will choose Intel, hoping it will be more than enough to fire up Rome Total War (that is my most demanding game). The reasons is that as an integrated chip it will also save battery and lower my temperature, which is good for work and compilation (My T60 rarelly go below 80C). Hopefully it will still be better than the X1300. If not... Well, I will actually need a new motherboard soon anyway as the RAM connectors are failing. If I had money and wanted the maximum perfomance possible under a 4:3 screen, I will have the Frankenpad option for the future.
The X1300 should be in the same range as the GMA950, so you will see no performance increase when deciding for that. Also, the GMA950 is only supporting OpenGL up to 1.4 (with ARB extensions), while the X1300 and X1700 supports OpenGL 2.0, so it may be that some of your games won't work anymore with the Intel solution.
As I have a bit of experience with all three cards now, I am going to relate my experiences.
Intel gives me the lesser power. However, it is compatible with all games and applications. It also helps to save some power and tends to run cooler. Since I use it, I run about 10C cooler. Some games which had glitches on my ATI (lack if textures, weird shadows) now run fine, in exchange when handling lots of dynamic lights I have a drop on FPS, so I need to lower the graphic quality on such games.
ATI Can handle dynamic lights and draw graphics faster, so games who can run under this card do it better. However, I found a bunch of games that simply WON'T run on ATI (like Rome Total War), or do so with glitches. This makes it a good card if you know that your games will run it. I assume that more powerful ATI cards will have the same compatibility issues, but I might be wrong!
Nvidia. To be fair, I have a laptop with Nvidia: I know its problems on it, and saw the same problems on thinkpad forums, but never experienced such on a thinkpad myself: If we are talking about free drivers, it works fine. Nvidia offers the most power and has the same compatibility as Intel (at least on older cards). BUT for some reason the manufacture is not very good. Problems of the chip simply detaching from the motherboard are quite a common occurrence. It is possible to fix, but it is annoying and a bit risky. If you don't mind to trade reliability and power usage with a better card, go on. In any case, careful laptop handling and the rigid frame of the T60 should prevent the need of "cooking" the motherboard on the oven to reattach the graphic chip... I hope!
As my game requirements are modest, and I value battery life and reliability, Intel was my choice. Every card has its good things, so on the end it is your choice. If you want a Nvidia, you'll need to buy a T61p motherboard, which is more expensive than a T60-T60p