Whenever you play computer games that utilizes 3D graphics, a decent frame rate of about 25-30 frames per second is a prerequisite to make the games run smoothly and be at all enjoyable. If you play on a desktop PC, you always have the option to put in a more powerful graphics card, but thats not an option with laptop computers. Another problem with laptops but one that can be avoided is the lack of updated graphics card drivers. Using updated drivers can provide better performance in new games thanks to game-specific fixes and improvements.
The Problem with OEM Drivers
Although both of the leading graphics card manufacturers (ATI/AMD and Nvidia) provide generic driver updates regularly that are designed to work with all of the respective manufacturers chips even the laptop versions most OEMs (laptop manufacturers) do not allow these to be installed on your laptop, since they prefer to use proprietary solutions for all their driver updates. As a result, you may be forced to use drivers that are as old as your laptop if the OEM doesnt update their drivers on a regular basis, which is unfortunately often the case.
Of course, this applies only to laptops with a dedicated graphics card from ATI or Nvidia. If you have a pure business laptop like the Toshiba Satellite M305 that comes with an Intel GPU, theres not much you can do to boost your graphics capabilities, but you probably didnt plan on using it for gaming either. However, if you shopped around for cheap laptops from last year and found a bargain with a decent graphics card for gaming, you could be sorely disappointed when you find out that the last driver update was also released last year.
Thankfully, there are relatively simple workarounds available that could save you from choppy frame rates and unplayable games. What fixes to use depends on whether your laptop has a GPU from Nvidia or ATI.
Mobility Modder For ATI Laptops
Mobility Modder is an application written by Ruud Ketelaars that works with all ATI Mobility Radeon models. It modifies the original driver packages from ATI to provide support for laptop GPUs. The best part is that its completely free to download from driverheaven.net/modtool.php
This way, you can just download the latest Catalyst drivers from AMD, apply the Mobility Modder fix, install the drivers and enjoy several performance and stability improvements. One good example is the latest tweak for Call of Duty 4 that improves performance by up to 35%, but lots of other popular titles like World of Warcraft and Crysis has received some improvements and fixes as well.
Modified INFs For Nvidia Laptops
The situation with laptop graphics cards from Nvidia is exactly the same no support is provided for notebook GPUs from Nvidia, although the drivers are compatible with the entire range of desktop and laptop GPUs. However, just like the ATI drivers you can modify Nvidias Force Ware drivers to get them to work with your laptop. The folks at Laptopvideo2Go.com have figured out ways to circumvent the issue. Just replace the original INF-file with the one supplied and you can install the drivers as you normally would, but with the important difference that it works with your laptops video card.
This guest article was written by Emma Best from Laptopical, a laptop weblog providing notebook computer reviews, and opinions.