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Do I Need Integrated Graphics in My CPU? (For Beginners)

There are quite a few components on a computer such as the graphics card also called a GPU, the CPU, and the motherboard. When looking at buying a new computer, or upgrading your existing components a common concern is whether you need an integrated graphics card.

Integrated graphics cards are necessary if you plan on using your computer for graphics-intensive tasks such as gaming, or using photoshop/video editing type programs. For browsing the web, and using it to do work or projects for school or university you don’t need an integrated graphics card.

Below, I will explain in detail when it makes sense to get a CPU with integrated graphics, whether the performance of a computer is worse if you get a CPU with an integrated graphics card, and whether CPUs generally come with integrated graphics cards. So, today I’ll explain whether you should need integrated graphics for your CPU.

Is it Better To Get a CPU Without Integrated Graphics? 

There can be some concern about whether a CPU with integrated graphics reduces the performance of your computer versus a computer without an integrated graphics card. So, if you’re building a new computer, buying a new computer, or upgrading an existing computer is it better to get a CPU without an integrated graphics card?

Procesor

Overall, it doesn’t make a performance difference whether you get a CPU without integrated graphics. If you have a CPU with an inbuilt graphics card (integrated graphics card), it will be disabled if you install a dedicated graphics card. A computer will use one or the other, not both.

Some CPUs don’t come with integrated graphics cards. These types of CPUs are specifically designed for gamers that require the highest-end graphics or people that are using them to do intensive photoshop/video editing type work. There are 3 potential computer setups as they relate to graphics cards. 

Here’s a table that breaks down the 3 possible configurations so you can get a good idea about when you’ll need a CPU with a dedicated graphics card or not:

Type of computer userGraphics demands
Very high-end gamer. Or someone who uses the latest version of Photoshop/video editing type software daily for their job.High. 
The integrated graphics card is not enough. They need a dedicated graphics card.
Can use a CPU with a dedicated graphics card or a CPU without one. They will always get a high end dedicated graphics card
Wants to play the latest games on high graphics settings.Medium to high. 
The integrated graphics card is not enough. They need a dedicated graphics card.
Can use a CPU with a dedicated graphics card or a CPU without one. They will generally always get a low, medium, or high-end dedicated graphics card.
Using it for school, work, or universityLow.
An integrated graphics card is sufficient. Does not need a dedicated graphics card.
Best to get a CPU with a dedicated graphics card. They will never need a dedicated graphics card.

For the first type of customer, CPU manufacturers assume they’ll buy a dedicated graphics card. The reason is that the demand for graphics that they’ll require is much more than what a dedicated graphics card can do. And so including a dedicated graphics card for them is largely redundant, because they will get a dedicated graphics card anyway. 

There is some debate online about whether a dedicated graphics card is in fact a graphics card and some people think it’s something completely different from a GPU or dedicated graphics card. On the official Intel website, Intel explains that an integrated graphics card by their definition is a proper graphics card, the same as a GPU or dedicated graphics card.

For the general gamer that likes to play the latest games such as Counter-Strike, Dota 2, or World of Warcraft a few nights a week or more, they don’t generally need the absolute best graphics card. 

Certain games can run OK with an integrated graphics card. For example, Dota 2 can run really smoothly on low to medium graphics settings, with an integrated graphics card. And still, look really good and be very fun.

These types of gamers will typically get a dedicated graphics card at some stage, but it might not be the highest priority. Therefore, they can get by with an integrated graphics card until they get around to getting a dedicated graphics card. 

Then the type of people that only require a very low amount of graphics. These would be people that use their computer for work, such as a laptop they take to work, or for university or schoolwork. 

Their graphics usage is limited to watching videos on Youtube and possibly playing a web-based game here and there. A person that uses their computer in this way only needs a dedicated graphics card and it would never make sense for them to get a dedicated graphics card.

Do I Really Need a CPU With Integrated Graphics?

If you know you’re getting a GPU, also called a dedicated graphics card, or just a graphics card to go with a new computer you’re building the fact that a CPU comes with an integrated graphics card can seem largely irrelevant. Because you won’t actually be using it. Therefore, do you really need a CPU with an integrated graphics card?

If you’re not planning on getting a dedicated graphics card then you should get a CPU with an integrated graphics card. Otherwise, you will have very bad graphics performance. If you know you’re getting a dedicated graphics card then either a CPU with a dedicated graphics card or not is fine.

When you install your new graphics card such as an AMD or Nvidia graphics card the existing integrated graphics card will be disabled. 

If you have the option you should get a CPU with an inbuilt graphics card (dedicated graphics card) unless there is a dramatic price difference to get a CPU with a dedicated graphics card when you know you’re buying a dedicated graphics card at the same time. 

Virtually all Intel CPUs come with an integrated graphics card, and AMD now generally includes integrated graphics cards with their CPUs. In the next section, I will explain why that is. 

Why do All Intel CPUs Come With Integrated Graphics?

It’s known that Intel CPUs come with integrated graphics cards. Based on my research AMD CPUs didn’t use to come with integrated graphics cards, but they have started to include them. Why has Intel led the way in this regard, and if they know that some people will replace them with a better graphics card why do they include one with them?

Intel CPUs come with integrated graphics cards because they lighten the processing load on the computer which makes it run much faster. Without an integrated graphics card, a computer would run a lot slower. It’s possible to upgrade the inbuilt graphics card to a much faster one without removing it.

This is because when you do, there are some settings you’ll need to change to say which graphics card you want your computer to use. A computer can only use one graphics card at a time. So, when you enable one, by default you are disabling the other.

Do I Lose Performance If My CPU Has Integrated Graphics?

Various components on a computer can increase or decrease performance. As you may know, more RAM makes a computer run faster, as well as, upgrading the CPU to a more powerful one. But, does a CPU with integrated graphics decrease performance.

A CPU with integrated graphics does not decrease a computer’s performance. The opposite is true, a CPU with an integrated graphics card causes a computer to have better performance. If you upgrade to a faster graphics card, the existing dedicated graphics card will not inhibit performance in any way.

You may be curious if the dedicated graphics card will somehow slow down the performance of your computer and whether it’s better to get a CPU without one. However, this won’t happen. When you install a higher-powered graphics card it disables the existing dedicated graphics card and does make the performance worse than a CPU without a dedicated graphics card.

Conclusion

A dedicated graphics card is always better to have than not having one. If you’re using a dedicated graphics card and it fails it’s handy to have a backup dedicated graphics card. Because it will tide you over until you get a new graphics card.

I started building and fixing PCs in high school. After a couple of years of offering consultancy to a PC repair shop, I became the goto guy for all my acquaintances for PC/Laptop related buying advice or troubleshooting.