Modern CPUs today have integrated graphics performing almost equal to low-end or sometimes even medium-end graphics cards, that often leaves consumers wondering, are dedicated graphics really better than integrated graphics?
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What are integrated Graphics?
Integrated graphics are exactly what their name suggests, integrated. Integrated graphics mean that there is a graphics processor located inside the CPU, and occupies a space on the same chip. The integrated graphics processor does not have its separate RAM but uses the system RAM that is shared between the graphics processor and the CPU.
Being integrated into the CPU makes integrated graphics more energy efficient and less prone to heating than dedicated graphics cards but due to them using less power that also means they’re fairly less powerful than a dedicated graphics card.
Newer CPUs use an even more efficient integrated graphics processor which can often handle the regular graphical needs and at times may even be able to carry out graphics-intensive tasks.
Since integrated graphics use the same RAM as the CPU this may cause lag or performance degradation due to not having enough RAM.
What are dedicated graphics?
The term dedicated graphics means a component dedicated to graphical processing, which in this case is the graphics card also known as the GPU. These are the same components that are very often seen very clearly in PCs due to them standing out thanks to the unique features they have. They’re usually very large in size and house a single or multiple fans mostly found at the bottom of the case.
Unlike integrated graphics, dedicated graphics have their own dedicated RAM which is known as VRAM (video RAM), this means that the graphics processor has its own RAM separate from the CPU to work with. This makes graphical processing fairly faster and more efficient as it does not interfere with the working of the CPU.
The CPU has the RAM all to itself which means that the CPU itself will also perform better.
Since dedicated graphics cards have their own VRAM and are a separate component altogether, that means it uses quite a chunk of the overall power consumed by the PC. That's why they’re most likely to produce heat, which is why PCs with dedicated graphics need extra cooling and end up consuming more power than PCs with integrated graphics.
Which one is better?
To establish clearly that one is better than the other, we need to consider something of utmost importance: the usage. How a PC is used and the functions it performs in everyday use will make it easier to choose one as the better option for a PC.
For some integrated graphics may be the best choice and for others not so much, it all comes down to preferences and requirements.
Why opt for integrated graphics?
Contrary to popular belief, integrated graphics aren't all that bad. Integrated graphics have come a long way with recent technological advancements.
If you look at Intel's UHD 630 integrated graphics for example, which are included with the Intel i9-10900k CPU. These integrated graphics offer a UHD video experience meaning up to 4K resolution can be achieved on these integrated graphics. This means that these integrated graphics can handle all the high-resolution video editing and render smoothly without breaking a sweat. Along with being excellent for workstations, some integrated graphics can also run games at medium quality.
AMD ships its Vega 11 graphics with the Ryzen 5 3400G and Vega 8 with the Ryzen 3 3200G. These integrated graphics are extremely capable and offer performance that is often unbelievable for integrated graphics. These integrated graphics can easily run the latest competitive games like Valorant or Over watch at medium or even high settings with limited FPS.
The only problem that arises with the RAM is that integrated graphics use the same system RAM as the CPU. But there's a catch, upgrading your RAM is still cheaper than buying a dedicated graphics card, especially nowadays. That is why it’s more practical to increase your RAM to just get that extra push of performance, rather than buy a graphics card.
To sum it up, if you're someone who just games casually but will use your PC for work and are likely to use demanding software like Premiere pro or Photoshop, then integrated graphics are for you. Not only will your PC run quiet and cooler but also save you quite some cash all the while getting the job done.
Why opt for dedicated graphics?
In the world of technology, if something is specialized (or, in this case, dedicated), it is usually a better option than something that forms part of a multi-purpose system. This strongly applies to dedicated graphics.
They can almost be considered a microsystem within the PC due to their components being dedicated solely to rendering the best possible image quality.
Dedicated graphics like their reputation are the epitomes of raw performance, having their own RAM and being separate from the motherboard gives them the ability to process graphical information at astonishing speeds.
A PC with a good graphics card will be able to run graphic intense games for hours on end reliably at the highest possible settings, giving the user the satisfaction of good resolution coupled with great FPS. With a graphics card, you often have no limitations on what you can do and what you can’t, almost any game and software can be run without worrying about whether your PC can handle it or not.
There's no doubt that a good GPU will last you a long time, at least 5 years is a given, so it is an investment worth making given that you make the right one.
If you’re a hardcore gamer and your requirements from your PC are very graphic intensive or just an enthusiast who wants his PC to be capable of anything all the time, then dedicated graphics are for you. Integrated graphics simply can’t cater to your needs and it's better to spend a little more than overburdening your CPU. The only compromise here is that you would need to spend more for cooling your PC and some extra maintenance.
If you do have to choose between integrated graphics and dedicated graphics, always remember, nothing is Black and White, no one system is better than another. It always depends on how you want to use your PC.
The natural assumption that you need a beefy dedicated graphics card for a good PC build isn’t necessarily true.
More often than not, integrated graphics can cater to your needs even if you do involve in some amount of casual gaming.
In the current era where GPUs are hard to get by and those which are available are extremely out of reach because of the extra premiums being charged on them. You need to analyze your requirements and if you come to the conclusion that your requirements can be met by an integrated Graphics included with a CPU, you should always opt for that.
Not only is that a practical solution, but you are also not making a sizable investment in terms of graphics. This means sometime in the future you can always upgrade to dedicated graphics, while it’s also not a bad thing to have a good CPU in your computer.
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