What are the differences between integrated and dedicated graphics card? In a computer, the graphics card is one of the most vital components that play an important role in determining how well the whole computer system will perform. The primary purpose of a graphics card is to:
- Generate visuals through the data signals received and processed and
- Control the display output that is eventually seen by the user on the screen.
This means that it is the graphics cards and its performance, based on other vital components of the computer, that will affect the images displayed on the computer screen.
The most commonly used graphics cards in a computer are the discrete or dedicated graphics cards and the integrated graphics cards. Both these have its own significant features, characteristics and, of course, differences.
A dedicated graphics card is a specific hardware component that typically manages only the graphics performance of the system. These dedicated cards are also sometimes called by different names such as:
- The discrete graphics cards or
- The GPU or Graphics Processing Unit cards.
You will get a wide variety of dedicated graphics cards but all of them will come with some RAM, a GPU, and essentially a fan to maintain the internal temperature.
Being a separate system from the Central processing Unit, the discrete graphics card will have its own independent memory. The source of this VRAM or video memory will ensure a higher and better graphics processing performance.
However, a dedicated graphics card will consume a lot of power as compared to an integrated graphics card and will also generate a lot of heat while processing.
The integrated graphics card, on the other hand, are those cards installed in a computer that has a GPU or Graphics Processing Unit built on the same die as the Central processing unit. This means that:
- An integrated graphics card will not have its own independent memory.
- It will, instead, bank on the specific memory of the computer system for graphics processing.
This specific design and structure provide a lot of distinct benefits, apart from a notable enhancement in the graphics performance of the computer system.
Most of the modern computers today come with an integrated graphics card. Some may even have both, an integrated and a discrete graphics card. These computers have a special software that allows the system to switch between the two graphics card types automatically.
If you want to upgrade your desktop computer from integrated to discrete graphics card, plug in the display adapter into the empty PCI or PCI Express slot on the motherboard.
This will disable the integrated graphics card. The jumper on the motherboard or the settings in the BIOS will be changed and you will have a dedicated graphics card.
To choose the right type of graphics card for your computer, you will therefore need to know the basic and a few specific differences between the integrated and discrete card, apart from those mentioned above.
Differences between Integrated and Dedicated Graphics Card
1. Quality of graphics
Typically, using a dedicated graphics cards means you will get high quality graphics and higher performance as to that of an integrated system.
You will not get such a high-quality graphics and performance from an integrated graphics card because it shares the memory of the system to perform.
2. Range of processors
The integrated graphics cards are supported by low range processors such as the Intel Core i7 and i5 and other lower processors.
However, the dedicated graphics card will need a processor of the 8th generation and above to provide images that are truly of high quality.
For a higher graphics performance and better-quality images, you will need to spend a few dollars more on a dedicated graphics card.
The integrated graphics cards are much cheaper as compared to the dedicated graphics cards.
The dedicated graphics cards are known to consume more power than the integrated graphics cards. This is because these cards have a built-in fan that not only consumes more power but also produces more heat.
The integrated graphics in comparison will consume much less power for that reason as compared to a dedicated graphics card since it will share the resources. It will also generate much less heat while processing than a discrete graphics card keeping the computer system cooler for a longer time.
If you look for a laptop that comes with dedicated graphics cards, you will find that your options are really restricted. It comes with specific tradeoffs such as higher price and larger size.
The integrated graphics laptops, on the other hand, will be widely available at a relatively affordable price and at the same time it will be less thick, often less than half an inch.
Which is Better – Integrated or Dedicated Graphics Card?
Generally, both these types of graphics cards will have pretty similar type of graphics performance if you use your computer for performing simple day-to-day tasks such as using Microsoft Office.
However, if you really want to make a choice between the two, you will first need to know how you are going to use your it and your system.
An integrated graphics card will work perfectly as desired if you use your computer to:
- Do some simple jobs
- Watch a few movies on YouTube
- Listen to music and
- Browse different websites on the internet.
Apart from casual gaming and simple jobs, the integrated graphics card is more than enough to support most of the Adobe programs as well.
Moreover, if you have a fairly modern and well-performing processor in your system, the integrated graphics card will also help you in handling 4K videos.
One the other hand, it is the discrete graphics card that will be a better option to choose by the professional and creative developers and designers.
This is mostly preferred by them because these graphics cards ensure a smooth, seamless and uninterrupted gaming experience as well as a more productive image processing and better user experience.
This is because the dedicated graphics cards come with CUDA cores that support high-end VR and gaming. This model is created and released by Nvidia.
The Compute Unified Device Architecture or CUDA cores act as a corresponding platform for computing and API or Application Programming Interface.
This structure of the modern dedicated graphics cards supports programs like Lightroom and Photoshop, both of which are essential for 3D work and other complex tasks. It will also help in expediting RAW photo editing.
A dedicated graphics card will be the best to use when it comes to:
- High-end gaming
- 3D designing
- Video editing
- Animation and
- CAD and
- All professional jobs that needs a graphics software.
What is even more interesting is the fact that if you use a powerful and discrete graphics card, you can even use it for mining several cryptocurrencies, including bitcoins.
When you choose the right type of graphics card for your computer system, you should also make sure that you plan ahead.
This is an important aspect because you will need your graphics card to hold up and do your job even when the design of the gaming software seems to change constantly and typically become more and more resource intensive.
Therefore, you can now see that unless you use it for your specific needs, the integrated graphics cards are good enough to use.
If you use it properly then the benefits provided by it may even outweigh that of a discrete graphics card, provided that the battery life is better and the device size is suitable.
To Wrap up
Now that you know the difference in the structure and functionality of integrated and dedicated graphics card, you can see that for any average computer user and for performing average tasks, the integrated graphics is more than enough.
On the other hand, if you want more accurate visualization, you can choose a dedicated graphics card.