I've been contemplating the idea of purchasing a laptop since Christmas, mainly for use around the house (to free me from my desk), but also for the odd occasion where I'm out and about.
Now, cost is a factor and anything with a discrete GPU is unnervingly expensive. So I've been looking at getting a "budget" laptop with a GMA 4500MHD.
It's been a while since I tinkered about with Intel GFX hardware under Linux and I'm having a little trouble finding reliable information on just how things are at present, and where things are headed.
The laptop would be used for "everyday" work such as e-mail, web browsing and so on. I have no intention on running graphically intensive 3D games on it; maybe the odd "oldie" 3D game via WINE now and then. I have a PC for those graphically intensive "next-gen" games.
So I guess it'd be best to put all this in the form of a couple of questions =P
1) How is performance with the Intel driver these days? I'm thinking of maybe using a composited desktop, can the 4500MHD handle that without massive slowdowns?
2) How well does the 4500MHD power-save under Linux? Battery life isn't the most important thing, but a couple of hours would be great.
3) Is there any plans to expose the HD decoding engine of the 4500MHD under Linux? I know it's available under Windows, but who wants to use that? ^u^
I can't believe how biased people are in favour of nvidia. I've had nothing but bad experiences with them. Older cards are deprecated and support for them is slowed to a crawl at random times. Support for the latest kernel and xserver is also up to their release schedule. 2D is slow compared to OSS drivers for other cards. If you don't want things to become horribly unusable, stay away fron nvidia.
Intel is my #1 choice for mobile computers. Suspend/resume works very well. 2D is screamingly fast. 3D works for all the older games I play on wine and natively. UT2004 runs 1280x800 at 20 fps. NWN runs without lag. Warcraft 3 does 1440x900 at 28 fps. Compoiste works without lag as well. This is with an X3100 card. Yours would undoubtedly perform better.
There's no need for dedicated power saving hardware support because the power use on integrated chips is so low. My nonscientific measurements say that Intel uses less power on load than discrete cards do on idle (when taking out the CPU power consumption).
For desktops where power consumption is not an issue, ATI cards are the only way I go. The OSS support for everything <= R500 is superb except for GLSL support. That will change with the rewrite work going on. Games run fine. Videos play well. Suspend/resume works. The latest kernel bits are supported. Best of all, things will only improve in the future.
I must admit that my gaming PC recently went from an ATi card to an nvidia one because of the better features and performance under Linux, but I'm in no way an nvidia fanboy. I like what works best for my needs, whomever makes it.
Originally I'd hoped Dell would release the Studio 14z over here in the UK as it was cheap and used the GeForce 9400M G, but there's been no announcement and they made a bit of a daft design decision (soldering 1GB of RAM directly to the motherboard). So it looks like that's out the window.
As for HD acceleration, it'd be nice but isn't essential. The highest definition thing I have is 720p and I'm fairly sure a decent Core 2 Duo can decode that in software.
If anyone else has any advice, please feel free to chip in, oh, and if anyone does know of a "budget" range laptop which is available in the UK and has an nvidia GFX card, I'd appreciate that too ^^
720p software only is no problem usually, thats correct. Laptop cpus just have got lower clockspeeds, but budget desktop cpus are already able to play 1080p for less than 70 euro (like Pentium E6300). Intel onboard is definitely not a bad choice when you have got another pc for gaming. Compiz runs on it too, but please never buy it for games.