Why You Should Use A Dedicated Graphics Card For Music Video Mixing

When mixing music videos with DJ software like DEX 3 you’re better off with a DJ computer (Mac or Windows) equipped with a dedicated graphics card versus shared graphics.

The latest Intel HD 4000 series (and up) shared graphics cards are sufficient for mixing videos with DEX 3, or for hosting karaoke, but if you want the most stable mixed video output possible you should strongly consider investing in a laptop with dedicated video memory.   Computers that come with dedicated graphics memory are typically designed by manufacturers for gaming, or multimedia production.

Yes, laptops with dedicated video memory will hit you in the wallet, but so will any piece of high end gear (DJ Controllers, quality set of headphones, etc).  Mixing music videos will land you gigs you normally wouldn’t, and you can charge the client a premium for the service – so return on investment is easily obtainable.    You can afford the laptop, but you can’t afford video lag while mixing.

So why do you want dedicated video memory for video mixing, technically? 

Let’s Explain The Differences between Integrated and Dedicated Video Cards…

  • Integrated

An integrated graphics processing unit (AKA GPU) uses your laptops on-board memory.  Which means, for example, on a computer with 4GB of on-board RAM the video card can use up to five percent of the available memory for processing basic video tasks (browsing the web, checking Facebook, normal operations basically).  This percentage goes up significantly when mixing music videos and performing some of the more advanced features DEX 3 offers (scratching video, applying effects and transitions, etc).

DEX 3 buffers your entire video into your on-board system memory, and all other operations of the DJ software other than the video components use the system memory as well.  If you are using an integrated video card your sharing all other operations of the OS and DEX 3, so essentially a battle over RAM.   Again, higher end shared cards like the Intel 4000 series cards will suffice as they are crafty in how they manage resources – but they’re still not optimal for heaving music video mixing.

Of course, the obviously benefit to using an integrated unit is that it is less expensive — which translates to a less expensive computer. Integrated units also generate  less heat than a dedicated video card, but any decent laptop shouldn’t overheat during a 4-5 hour set regardless. Integrated graphics cards are perfect for people doing everyday graphics processing, but not the greatest for live performance DJs that demand the most out of DEX 3.

  • Dedicated

A dedicated graphics card has its own independent video memory, leaving your system RAM untouched for DEX 3 and OS operations. For example, if you have a GeForce GTX 680M video card that includes 2GB of dedicated video memory, that memory is separate from your laptops 8GB of built-in memory. Therefore dedicated graphics cards are ideal for heavy music video mixing (and video effects) with this in mind.   Let the video card handle all the video and graphics mixing, freeing up system RAM for all other DEX 3 operations.

Some video cards are switchable, meaning the GPU is equipped with both a dedicated and integrated card. You can be sure DEX 3 is using the proper dedicated graphics card using THIS TIP.

Of course, out-of-the-box computers are never truly live performance ready or optimized – so here’s a handy guide for general video mixing system optimization.

Have further questions?  Please leave them in the comments section below.