Integrated GPU vs Dedicated GPU

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Let us today clear all the fuss and confusion about Integrated and Dedicated GPU. But before that let us understand what is a GPU, it is a ‘part’ inside a computer that is primarily responsible to show pictures, videos, textures, et cetera. Now, let’s try understand every question one by one. For ease, ‘graphics’ and ‘GPU’ in this blog will be used interchangeably.

What is Integrated Graphics?

Integrated Graphics are the GPUs that are built into the CPU die. Before this, they used to be built into the motherboard with a small memory of about 1-8 MB during 2000-2010. Integrated Graphics currently used in Intel and Ryzen CPUs is their integral part but they don’t have a memory as they used to in motherboard, rather than that they use a part of the available RAM, for eg: if you have a 4GB of RAM, 1GB is used to render graphics i.e. image, videos, et cetera. That’s the reason they are also sometimes referred to as shared graphics. They also use much less power than dedicated graphics doing exactly what they are meant to. Almost all of the thin and light laptops only have Integrated graphics which is built into the CPU die. Some of the popular integrated graphics are Intel UHD Graphics 630, Intel UHD Graphics 625, Iris Plus Graphics 645, et cetera.

What is Dedicated Graphics?

Dedicated Graphics are a separate component that is only responsible for rendering images, videos, and other graphics-intensive operations. Unlike the integrated ones they are not built into the CPUs and are put into one of the PCI lanes. They have a separate cooling system that has separate fans used for cooling on desktops. Dedicated Graphics have their own memory and do not share that of RAM. And they are usually more powerful but that’s not a ‘fact’ as some of the high-end CPUs have graphics that are more powerful than low-end dedicated GPUs. Dedicated graphics or GPUs are mostly used to chew out higher framerates in games, rendering higher resolution videos, and other graphics-intensive tasks. Some examples of Dedicated Graphics are GeForce RTX 2080, Radeon RX 580, et cetera. They also tend to use more power much more power. Most good GPUs use more than 100s of watts of power themselves and generate a lot of heat requiring separate cooling.

Why are dedicated graphics built into the CPU?

Well, these questions have been raised time and again by the users and even tried by the CPU giants themselves. But it turns out it is not practically feasible and also quite expensive. See, the thing is that CPUs themselves are very power-hungry components and use a ton of power which in turn generates a great amount of heat. If one tries to build powerful GPUs into the CPU die then the cooling solutions required for them would be massive and very expensive which is not good as people want relatively cheaper and more compact products. And as not everyone does not need a dedicated GPUs since almost 80% of the users don’t use one currently the market for such products is also small.

RTX 2080
GeForce RTX 2080

So, which should you use?

Well, it all depends on the task. The Integrated Graphics now have gotten really good and if your tasks include just watching videos doing light photoshops or playing casual games then you are fine with Integrated Graphics which comes with the CPUs. But if you are looking for a laptop or desktop for playing high-end games or doing heavy video and photo editing then you would really want to include dedicated GPUs in the purchase list.