The quick answer to the question if you need a graphics card for a PC is, yes, you do need a graphics card for a PC. The graphics card is the component that renders images, video, and 2D/3D animations on your monitor, and you won’t be able to see anything without it. But the real question is – do you need a *dedicated* graphics card, or will an integrated solution suffice? And this is what we are going to explore in this article.
But first, we need to talk about what a dedicated and integrated graphics card is.
Dedicated Graphics Card
A dedicated graphics card is a separate hardware component that plugs into the motherboard (PCIe slot) and usually requires its own power connection. It has its own heatsink and cooling fan (or multiple fans in high-end models) and is often quite large. The graphics card’s job is to render video, images, and animations and send the information to the monitor.
Dedicated cards are significantly faster than integrated solutions and will provide a much better gaming experience. They are also better suited for running demanding applications like video editing software. Therefore if you are building a gaming rig or your work requires the use of such software or multiple monitors, then a dedicated GPU is a no-brainer.
Integrated Graphics Card
An integrated graphics card is a GPU that is built into the CPU. It shares the same chip as the CPU and uses less power. These graphics cards are not as fast as their dedicated counterparts, but they are good enough for general use and light gaming. An integrated solution will suffice if you just want to do some web browsing, light image editing, or play older games.
AMD CPUs With Integrated Graphics Cards
Before we talk about the pros and cons of using an integrated graphic card, we should mention that not all CPUs are iGPUs. Most Ryzen CPUs don’t come with onboard graphics, with the exception being those with the letter “G” or “GE” at the end of their model name. For example, the Ryzen 3 3100G is a budget CPU with an integrated GPU, and the Ryzen 5 3400GE is a mid-range option with iGPU. Below is a table with all Ryzen iGPUs.
|AMD Ryzen 7 5700G||Rx Vega 8 Cores 2.0 GHz|
|AMD Ryzen™ 7 5700GE||Rx Vega 8 Cores 2.0 GHz|
|AMD Ryzen 7 4700G||Rx Vega 8 Cores 2.1 GHz|
|AMD Ryzen 7 4700GE||Rx Vega 8 Cores 2.0 GHz|
|AMD Ryzen 5 5600G||Rx Vega 7 Cores 1.9 GHz|
|AMD Ryzen 5 5600GE||Rx Vega 7 Cores 1.9 GHz|
|AMD Ryzen 5 4600G||Rx Vega 7 Cores 1.9 GHz|
|AMD Ryzen 5 4600GE||Rx Vega 7 Cores 1.9 GHz|
|AMD Ryzen 3 5300G||Rx Vega 6 Cores 1.7 GHz|
|AMD Ryzen 3 5300GE||Rx Vega 6 Cores 1.7 GHz|
|AMD Ryzen 3 4300G||Rx Vega 6 Cores 1.7 GHz|
|AMD Ryzen 3 4300G||Rx Vega 6 Cores 1.7 GHz|
Related Article: Does Ryzen Have Integrated Graphics?
Intel CPUs with Integrated Graphics Cards
On the other hand, most Intel Core CPUs do have integrated GPUs. The only exceptions are the F-series. So if at the end of the model name you see an “F” (ex. i5-9600F), that means that it doesn’t have an integrated GPU.
With that being said, let’s move on and talk about how you can know if you have an integrated graphics card.
Related Article: Do Motherboards Have Integrated Graphics?
How do you know if your CPU has an integrated graphics card?
While you can check if your CPU’s model name has a “G” or “GE” at the end (for AMD) or an “F” (for Intel), there is an easier way.
Just open up your CPU’s product page on either AMD or Intel’s website, and scroll down to where it says “Processor Graphics” If you see a list of specs under the “Processor Graphics,” it means your CPU has an iGPU (Integrated Graphics Processing Unit).
Related Article: Does Motherboard Matter For Gaming?
Dedicated vs Integrated Graphics Card
Now that you know what an iGPU is, it’s time to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of dedicated and integrated solutions.
Advantages Of Using An Integrated Graphics Card
The main advantage of using an iGPU is that you can save money on your overall build. This is especially important for budget builds or entry-level gaming PCs. If you don’t need a dedicated GPU for gaming, then you can save that money for other components like the CPU, motherboard, or storage.
Another advantage is that you can avoid having to deal with an extra hardware component in your computer. This means one less thing to worry about when it comes to compatibility, driver updates, and troubleshooting.
Disadvantages Of Using An Integrated Graphics Card
The main disadvantage of using an iGPU is that they are not as good as dedicated GPUs. This means you will be limited when it comes to the games you can play and the settings you can use. In some cases, you may not be able to run the game at all.
Another disadvantage is that iGPUs share system resources with the CPU. This can lead to lower performance in games and other resource-intensive applications.
Advantages Of Using A Dedicated Graphics Card
The main advantage of using a dedicated graphics card is that you will get a significant performance boost over an iGPU. This is especially important for gamers or anyone who uses demanding applications. So if performance is the name of the game, then a dedicated GPU is the way to go.
Another advantage is that you can easily upgrade your graphics card in the future without having to replace your entire CPU. This is impossible with an iGPU since it’s soldered onto the CPU. Thus if you want to future-proof your system, then again, a dedicated GPU is the way to go.
Disadvantages Of Using A Dedicated Graphics Card
The main disadvantage of using a dedicated graphics card is the cost. They are getting more and more expensive as time goes on, and they can easily add hundreds of dollars to the cost of your build.
Another disadvantage is that they generate a lot of heat and are not power-efficient. This means you will need a good cooling solution and a quality power supply.
As you can see, there is no cookie-cutter answer when it comes to choosing between an integrated or dedicated graphics card. It all depends on your needs and budget. If you are a casual user or gamer on a tight budget, then an iGPU is a good option. But if you want top performance, then you will need to spring for a dedicated GPU.
Related Article: Motherboard HDMI Not Working: [Solved]
Integrated vs Dedicated Graphics Card Benchmarks
To prove to you that a dedicated GPU is indeed faster than an iGPU, and also that not all iGPUs are created equal, we’ve gathered a few benchmarks. These numbers come from the PassMark G3D Mark, which is a synthetic benchmark that measures overall graphics performance.
|GPU – iGPU Model||Benchmark Score|
|Radeon Ryzen 7 PRO 5750GE||2,969|
|Radeon Ryzen 7 5700G||2,837|
|Radeon Ryzen 5 PRO 5650GE||2,693|
|GeForce GTX 465||2,679|
|Radeon Ryzen 7 4700GE||2,662|
|GeForce GTX 850M||2,603|
|Radeon Ryzen 5 5600G||2,570|
|GeForce GTX 650 Ti||2,555|
|GeForce GTX 950A||2,539|
As you can see in the table above, low-end dedicated cards are still faster than iGPUs. But on the other hand, the top-range iGPUs are better than some entry-level dedicated cards.
Graphics card for a PC faq
Do You Need A Graphics Card For A Gaming PC?
If you are building a gaming PC, then you will probably need a dedicated graphics card. This is because integrated GPUs simply cannot provide the same level of performance as their dedicated counterparts. Therefore, if you plan to play the latest games at high settings, you will need to invest in a dedicated card.
Can you have a PC without a graphics card?
No, you cannot have a PC without a graphics card. This is because the graphics card is responsible for generating the graphics that are displayed on your monitor. Without a graphics card, you would just see a blank screen. Thus if you want to use your PC for any type of visuals, then you will need to invest in a graphics card or buy a PCU with integrated graphics.
Can you play games on a PC without a graphics card?
If your CPU has integrated graphics, then you might be able to play some older or less demanding games. But if you wish to play the latest and greatest games, then you will need a dedicated graphics card. This is because integrated GPUs simply cannot provide the same level of performance as their dedicated counterparts.
Does every PC have a graphics card?
Yes, every PC has a graphics card. It can be either integrated or dedicated, but every PC needs some form of the graphics processing unit (GPU) to generate the graphics displayed on your monitor.
Is a GPU necessary for gaming?
The GPU is probably the most important component for gaming. This is because the graphics of the games are rendered by the GPU. Thus if you plan to play games, then a GPU is necessary.
How much is a graphic card?
The price of graphics cards can range from $100 to $2000. It all depends on the performance you need. For casual gaming, you can get away with a budget card like the GTX 1660 for around $300. But if you plan to play the latest AAA games at high settings, you will need to spend more than $1000 for a high-end card.
The answer to the question “do you need a graphics card for a PC?” is yes, you will need a graphics card for a PC. The dilemma is if you are going to buy a dedicated graphics card or if you are going to go with an integrated graphics card.
Choosing between an integrated or dedicated graphics card depends on your needs and budget. If you are a casual user that uses his computer for basic tasks like word processing or a gamer on a tight budget, then an iGPU is a good option. But if you want top performance, then you will need to spring for a dedicated card. No one knows your needs better than you, so make sure to choose the best option.
If you still have questions about which graphics card is right for you, then please leave a comment below, and we will be happy to help.
Nick Ryley, is a computer architect and the owner of The Pc Geekz.
His love to play games got him interested in computers in the first place. He wanted to be able to build a gaming PC that could run all the latest games at max settings and this has him pursuing a major in computer architecture!
He started this blog to help people out and answer some of the most common questions about computer building