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Dedicated vs Integrated Graphics Cards – Which Should You Choose?

by Lisa Hayden
Dedicated vs Integrated Graphics Cards

In today's blog post we explain the differences between a dedicated vs integrated graphics card. Read on to find out which one to pick...

Are you planning to get a new PC? Or are you building your own? If you are, then one of the most important components you need to think about is the graphics card. The graphics card will be responsible for converting the data of an image to an actual image that you see on your monitor. Without it, you will not be able to see any graphics, unless, of course, your motherboard has graphics capabilities. But that’s not the case. 

There are two kinds of graphic cards - integrated and dedicated. The names themselves let you know that they’re two very opposite types. If you’re wondering which is which and which one you should get, read on. 

What is an Integrated Graphics Card?

Integrated Graphics Card

An integrated graphics card is a graphics card that uses the same chip as your CPU. This means that both your CPU (central processing unit) and GPU (graphics processing unit) functions are found in one processor. They also have the same memory storage. If you’ve heard or read about shared graphics, then that’s what the integrated graphics card does with the CPU. 

An integrated graphics card doesn’t seem like an ideal option if it’s going to share both the memory and the processor of your CPU. That was the case back then, but integrated graphics cards today are much more sophisticated and powerful.

What is a Dedicated Graphics Card?

The complete opposite of the integrated graphics card, a dedicated graphics card has its own processor that only focuses on the GPU. It’s housed entirely apart from the CPU which also means that it has its own memory storage. A dedicated graphics card’s storage is known as VRAM which stands for video random access memory.

A dedicated graphics card handles all the graphics-related processes and data which makes it a lot faster than when it is combined with CPU-related processes. This makes the dedicated graphics card an ideal choice for those who use a lot of graphics.

How Does a Dedicated Graphics Card Work?

How Does a Dedicated Graphics Card Work

The best way to describe how a dedicated graphics card works is by using an analogy. The dedicated graphics card is like an art department that does all the art-related projects and collaterals. When you have a dedicated graphics card, all the data and processes about graphics are directly funneled to the dedicated graphics card in much the same way that you would automatically send art requests to the art department. This implies that the dedicated graphics card has more “focus” on all your graphics requirements. 

Integrated vs Dedicated - Which is Better?

Both the integrated graphics card and the dedicated graphics card have their own merits. A dedicated graphics card is not always better which means that an integrated graphics card can actually be good enough for you. How do you know which one should you get? 

To help you out, here are a few factors that will make deciding a lot easier. 

  1. Tasks and programs you will use

Just because you’re not a gamer doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t care about graphics card. If you’re only using your laptop or desktop for browsing, sending emails, going on social media, and the like, then a dedicated graphics card is something that you definitely don’t need. Who wants to waste money on something they won’t be able to utilize, right? 

As mentioned earlier, integrated graphics cards are getting more and more powerful that they can function well even if there are CPU functions that it has to do. 

  1. Budget

Another thing to consider is your budget. Do you have enough for a dedicated graphics card? Or do you prefer to save on the graphics card? If you are the latter, then an integrated graphics card is for you. If you plan on building your own computer, it will only cost you a maximum of $400 to get it all built for you to play games like Dota 2 and League of Legends. 

Dedicated vs Integrated Graphics Cards cost

What if you have a loose budget? Is a dedicated graphics card automatically a good option? In all honestly, the answer isn’t yes. Budget alone is not the main reason for buying one graphics card over the other. Even if you do have the budget but you won’t be able to utilize the integrated graphics card, then why waste money on that? 

  1. Sensitivity to graphics

Different people have different sensitivities to graphics. Some are keener on graphics than the others. If your line of work or hobby is graphics-related, then you would definitely need a processor that solely focuses on graphics. Having an integrated graphics card will only be a cause of delay and difficulty when designing and rendering. This also implies that a dedicated graphics card is able to show better graphics.

On the other hand, if you won’t be doing graphics-related tasks and graphics isn’t really a big deal for you, then you’re better off with an integrated graphics card. 

  1. Power consumption

Naturally, a dedicated graphics card will use more power than the integrated counterpart. This is because it has a separate processor that works solely on its own. When you have an integrated graphics card, though, you get to use less power because the graphics processing will give way to CPU processing. Besides, there’s just one processor so it’s definitely a power-saver. 

To add to that, an integrated graphics card uses a lot less energy which then has fewer chances of overheating. Overheating consumes more energy which is why people have to avoid it. If you’re cautious about the energy you use, then an integrated graphics card is more suited for you. 

Verdict

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In a nutshell, if you’re a professional gamer who has enough budget, the better option for you is a dedicated graphics card. However, if you’re the opposite and just want a graphics card that will allow basic functions on your desktop or laptop, then you’re better off with an integrated graphics cards. Besides, the integrated graphics cards are starting to be powerful enough for your graphics processes not to be compromised by CPU processes.

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