Do You Really Need a Dedicated Graphics Card?

By December 21, 2018 December 27th, 2018 laptops

Every computer, regardless of its primary use, needs a Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). It’s how the images in your computer make it to the display so you can see them.

The question is whether you need a dedicated GPU or not and that all depends on what kind of graphics processing requirements you have. Let’s look at some options.

laptop on table

Integrated GPUs vs Dedicated GPUs

Most motherboards in a computer are manufactured with a moderately powerful GPU already integrated into it. In the last seven years, the GPU has been integrated into the Central Processing Unit (CPU) instead. This is practical because the integrated graphics use very little power other than what the CPU consumes in the first place.

The downside is that integrated GPUs are weak. They were primarily developed for web browsing, emails, and the occasional document draft. With the onset of modern gaming, and especially 3D generation video games, a weak GPU can struggle or fail to load your programs. Because integrated GPUs share the same resources as the CPU, your pool of RAM might not be enough to go around when it has to deal with a task like rendering a video game.

Dedicated or discrete GPUs, also called gaming/graphics cards, are separate items of hardware (usually from NVIDIA or AMD). The job of a dedicated GPU is to handle graphics processing exclusively. Besides its high-performance capabilities and dedicated RAM, dedicated GPUs also offer a more extensive selection of video ports. A typical motherboard usually has DVI or VGA ports while a dedicated graphics card may have those as well as HDMI or duplicate DVI ports.

The downside to all this additional graphics power is that most motherboards will need a PCI-Express x 16 free expansion slot, Power Supply Unit, and proper power connectors to function. On top of this, the extra power the setup uses means cooling must be prioritised. Also, adding a dedicated graphics card means your system will run noisier and hotter. Laptops with dedicated GPUs are also more expensive, so you might need to consider buying your laptop with Afterpay, or any of the other “buy now, pay later” alternatives.

Who Needs a Dedicated Graphics Card?

You need a dedicated GPU when your current setup can’t handle the games or graphic-heavy apps you want to use. If you play any of the latest top-tier games with all the add-ons and modifications, you need to get a dedicated graphics card to enjoy smooth gameplay.

It’s important to remember that GPUs are a good investment for anyone who uses their computer for video or photo editing and graphic design. They are also great if you need to expand the number of monitors on your system and need the extra ports.

So, the answer is that if you love to play the latest game titles or require better quality picture delivery, then you probably need a dedicated graphics card.

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