Discrete vs. Integrated Graphics Cards

When it comes to purchasing a PC, one of the key hardware components to impact your decision will be the graphics card. There are two primary types of graphics cards: integrated and discreet or dedicated. Discreet and dedicated are the same type, so there are only two terms to understand. In this article, we explore the differences between discreet and integrated graphics cards, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each. With this information, we hope to help you determine what you need for your intended use.

Discreet Graphics Cards

A dedicated graphics card is a subordinate system that uses its own independent source of video memory and leaves the random access memory in your system untouched. Cards such as these are great for hardcore gaming or graphic design. However, dedicated graphics cards do have their drawbacks. Without a compatible design or a good fan, this kind of graphics card can get warm quickly. This card will also be power-hungry and drain your PC’s battery life. One other drawback of choosing a discreet graphics card is the higher price, sometimes hundreds of dollars more than an integrated graphics card might cost. If a dedicated graphics card is what you need, we recommend getting a PC with multiple fans and plenty of vents. You can also invest in a cooling stand to provide extra protection from heat.

Integrated Graphics Cards

Unlike discreet graphics cards, integrated graphics cards don’t have their own independent sources of memory. They use your system’s RAM instead. Depending on the size of the task, your graphics card will usually consume between one and five percent of the available memory for graphics processing in gaming or multitasking. Integrated cards are more affordable than their dedicated counterparts. These graphics cards don’t generate as much heat or consume as much power, so you can save on battery life. If you use your PC for everyday graphics processing, video editing, and word processing, an integrated GPU is certainly up to the task. We recommend turning down the graphics settings to avoid in-game slowdowns, but you can still enjoy most of your favorite 3D games.

Discrete vs. Integrated Graphics Cards

How much power do you need from your next graphics card? With a discreet graphics card, you enjoy more RAM, a faster CPU, extra hard drive space, and better graphics. Plus, dedicated graphics cards are not nearly as expensive as they were several years ago. If you only use your PC to browse the web, email, and create spreadsheets, there’s no reason to use a discreet card. Many OEMs are choosing integrated components over discreet due to weight and cost, but the decision is entirely up to you. There are some video cards that are switchable, which means that you’ll reap the benefits of both discreet and integrated graphics. Cards such as these will switch to accommodate the task at hand.