Dedicated Graphics Card Vs Integrated Graphics Card

One of the biggest confusion among computer or laptop shoppers is that ” Shall we go for a dedicated Graphics card or an integrated one“. Let’s have a comparison in this article about Dedicated graphics card vs Integrated graphics Card and figure out which is better.

In 2021, computing is all about rich graphics. Be it your eye-catching windows, your favorite game, or 3D cad software that you use for your profession, without a high-end graphics card none will serve its potential.

Dedicated Graphics Card Vs Integrated Graphics Card

Graphics card in computers comes in two configurations. Either integrated with the central processor or a dedicated card ported into a PCI slot. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages.

What is an Integrated Graphics card?

The integrated graphics card comes integrated with the processor itself. It uses system memory to do GPU related functions. Both CPU and GPU comes integrated into the same chip.

Since both CPU and GPU come in a single chip so it has been noticed that both suffer when it comes to performance. All system resource that CPU uses is shared by the integrated GPU as well.

Dedicated Graphics Card Vs Integrated Graphics Card

Most of the low-end Intel processors come integrated with a GPU. Personally, I hate this concept. If the CPU performs betters, then GPU suffers and when GPU performs better, the CPU suffers. Ultimately either GPU or CPU has to suffer.

Integrated graphics cards are more common in low-end laptops and contribute to more than 50% of the laptop market
Positive
  • Usually takes less space. So compact laptops use integrated GPU
  • Low-end motherboards can be used without any PCI slot
  • Usually, there will be no compatibility issue as it comes integrated with processors
  • Cost much lesser than a dedicated graphics card
  • Laptops with discrete graphics card cost way less than others
Negatives
  • Does not support high-end graphics
  • Most of the graphics-rich applications won’t work
  • The system processing speed will be very low
  • Frequent system crash ( Blue Screen Of Death)
  • System overheating even with casual use

What is a Dedicated Graphics Card Or Discrete Graphics Card?

Unlike an integrated graphics card, a dedicated graphics card comes with its own set of resources. It has to be ported in a separate PCI slot in the motherboard. So normal motherboard without a PCI slot can not be used for a dedicated graphics card.

The dedicated graphics card has its own memory unit called VRAM ( Video Random Access Memory). It does not interfere with the CPU functions and does not share the CPU resources.

Dedicated Graphics Card Vs Integrated Graphics Card

The dedicated graphics card is more powerful than an integrated graphics card due to the fact that it has a separated graphics proceeding unit, a dedicated memory module and a cooling mechanism to make it work smooth

The power of a dedicated graphics card can be further enhanced by allowing a portion of system memory called virtual memory. Once coupled with virtual memory a dedicated graphics card offers the best performance.

Positive
  • Does not interfere with system resources. So system processing will be fast.
  • Graphics hungry applications will work smoothly
  • There will be no frequent system crash due to low graphics memory
  • CPU gets the freedom to use its full resources without sharing any resource with GPU
  • Due to the dedicated cooling unit, the system won’t heat up quickly.
Negatives
  • Need PCI slot in the motherboard
  • Need more space to accommodate the dedicated graphics card
  • Cost is way higher than a processor with an integrated graphics card.

Differences between Dedicated Graphics Card Vs Integrated Graphics Card

Integrated Graphics CardDedicated Graphics Card
No separate memory moduleDedicated memory module
Use CPU resourcesDoes not interfare with CPU resources
No dedicated cooling unitDedicated cooling mechanism is available
Very poor graphics performanceUsually offers high end graphic performance
Its cheap to ownUsually cost way higher than Integrated graphics card

Who should use an integrated graphics card?

Integrated Graphics card is enough for day to day computing. Unless you use the graphic hungry applications, integrated graphics solve all purposes. Considering this, a user should opt for an integrated graphics card in the following scenarios.

Non Gamers

There is no point in investing in a dedicated graphics card if you are not a Gamer. 3D games consume more GPU resources. So if you are not a game addict those resources will be unutilized.

Casual computer users

There are many users who use the computer just for checking emails or doing basic office jobs like using Microsoft Word or Excel. There is no point in using a dedicated graphics card for such basic jobs.

Budget is a concern

Integrated Graphics comes a lot cheaper than a dedicated one. So if budget is a concern for you, there is no other option except to choose an integrated graphics card.

Who should choose a dedicated graphics card?

There are certain applications or games that won’t work at all if you don’t use a high end dedicated graphics card. You might see frequent crashes if you use those applications with an integrated graphics card.

3D CAD users

3D cad softwares are the most graphics hungry software. Those softwares are used to creates 3-dimensional engineering design, simulation, etc. Many 3D softwares won’t even open if the graphic card requirements are not met.

Video Editing

If you are a YouTuber or work as a video editor, you must need a high-end graphics card. Or else it will be impossible to work. Even a basic video editing software needs a dedicated GPU

Game Addicted Users

Though I am not one of them the crowd is not too lean who are addicted to gaming. For them, the dedicated graphics card is the best bet. Integrated graphic card will only frustrate them.

Can I live with an integrated graphics card?

The answer is YES. If you know how to optimize your computer operating system, you can share more resources for the integrated GPU so that it can perform better. Here is one guide on how to speed up windows.

Must Read : How to speed up Windows 10

The other best bet would be to use Linux. Linux is a very lightweight operating system and usually consume fewer computer resources. Which in turn helps integrated GPU to work better.

Conclusion: Dedicated Graphics Card Vs Integrated Graphics Card

It depends on YOU. Yes, it absolutely depends on you. I use a laptop with an integrated GPU for the last 5 years without any issue. I use video editing and 3D cad software on that laptop. But how do I manage with an integrated GPU?

I manage to optimize my laptop to perform better than expected, I choose to use Linux over Windows for over a decade. That’s how I manage to get the best from an old laptop.

So if you are a computer shopper with a basic knowledge of computing better to go for an integrated graphics card. But again it depends on your type of work.

If you are a professional and involved in video editing, 3D gaming, and use 3D CAD softwares, better to invest in a dedicated graphics card. I promise that will be your best call.

That’s all I have in this article. Hope you got a fair amount of knowledge to choose between the dedicated and integrated graphics card. Do write in the comment section if you have any questions.

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A 2004 batch Mechanical Engineering graduate From NIT, Agartala. Close to 16 years of experience in the field of consumer electronics and appliances domain as a Sr. Design Engineer and Team Leader in India and the United States. A gadget freak by passion and profession and in his free time love to go for a ride with his champ, Rian.

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