Integrated vs Dedicated Graphics Card: Which One’s Best

Graphics Card

When buying computers, most especially the high-end ones, the type of Graphics card the laptop uses is one of the major factors considered. Do you need a laptop with an integrated graphics card or one with a dedicated graphics card? In this article, we shall discuss what is best for you.

Basically, integrated graphics cards use the computer’s Random Access Memory (RAM) and Central Processing Unit (CPU) while dedicated graphics cards have their own CPU, in this case, called Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) and a dedicated RAM. With the basic definitions out of the way now, let’s take a look at each in detail.

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Integrated Graphics Card

As discussed above, integrated graphics cards share the memory with the CPU. They use between 1% and 5% of the available memory for graphics. This means that the computer system may slow down when performing a resource-intensive task such as playing a video game.

Integrated graphics cards are cheaper and hence making the general price of the computer affordable. They also use less power compared to dedicated graphics cards hence increasing the battery life of the computer. If you are going to use the computer for basic tasks such as general office work, web browsing, movie streaming, a computer with an integrated graphics card will be the best option for you.

D865GSA integrated graphics card
Integrated vs Dedicated Graphics Card

Related Article: PC vs Console Gaming: Pros and Cons For Each

Dedicated Graphics Card

Also known as ‘Discrete graphics cards,’ these come with their own processor and memory. For example, if you find a laptop with a dedicated graphics card of 3 GB, it means that the 3 GB memory is entirely separate from your computer’s RAM.

Computers with dedicated graphics cards are favorable for pro-users who do resource-intensive tasks such as professional graphics design and high-end gaming, among others. However, it is imperative to state that dedicated graphics card results increase your computer’s heat dissipation. This problem can be fixed by acquiring special cooling stands for your laptop.

Dedicated graphics cards are also easy to upgrade, unlike the integrated graphics card. Speed-wise, dedicated graphics cards are also superior.

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integrated vs dedicated graphics card
NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 730 DDR3 Dedicated Graphics Card

External GPU

You can use an external GPU in order to enjoy some of the benefits of a dedicated graphics card. These normally come with a thunderbolt or USB cable to enable you to connect to your computer. You will be required to install the necessary drivers and software in order for this GPU to work.

Your computer will then channel all graphics requests to the external GPU instead of the default integrated graphics card. The performance of the external GPU is, however, not as great as what you would find on a computer with a dedicated graphics card. This is because computers that come with integrated graphics cards are not set-up to handle resource-intensive tasks such as the need for a lot of power associated with the external GPU.

integrated vs dedicated graphics card
A 1080 Ti External GPU connected to a MacBook Pro | Source: The Verge

In the end, the decision to get a computer with an integrated graphics card or a dedicated graphics card lies with you. Generally, your choice should be guided by (i) the tasks you’d be using the computer for, and (ii) your budget. These two questions will help you determine which computer is best for you. Tell us, which one of the two would you prefer? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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