Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

When I run some gaming applications, my computer which uses an on-board display card becomes very hot very quickly.

Do you think replacing an on-board display card with a standalone one will generate less heat?

Since the CPU is not specifically dedicated for gaming or 3D applications, these jobs are quite intensive to the CPU.

By having a separate display card, most work load is shifted to it and since it's designed for these kinds of applications, these jobs may not intensive to it at all.

In general, do you think this is true?

share|improve this question
Under max load the separate graphics card will probably generate more heat but it will have a better heatsink/fan to dissipate it. You need to look at thermal control of the overall system. – BJ292 May 6 '12 at 11:34

This would depend entirely on the dedicated video card you put in the system, but in general, no. A dedicated video card would generate MORE heat, as it would be a more powerful GPU and it would work harder to provide a better display.

Now "most work load is shifted to it"... not accurate. First, are we talking about the newest generation of Intel and AMD processors that have GPUs built into the actual CPUS? Or are we talking about older systems where there is a GPU integrated into the design of the motherboard? Because for the purpose of what you are talking about, these are apples and oranges.

In the systems where the CPU and GPU are separate, but the GPU is part of the motherboard, there is STILL a separate GPU that is generating it's own heat, and doing it's own work. There is empirical evidence to suggest that in an integrated system like that the CPU will work harder overall, but no actual benchmark testing results have been published to prove this.

So, you have a weaker, smaller Integrated GPU producing heat on one hand, and you have the larger more powerful dedicated video card producing heat on the other.

Think of it this way. On systems with an Integrated GPU, you may see a heat sink on it, but you rarely see a fan on that heat sink. Regarding video cards, you rarely see video cards without fans today. Why? They generate a ton of heat.

share|improve this answer

If you're shifting computing tasks from CPU to GPU, you may well use less power per unit of work. But this only applies to very specific tasks (scientific simulations, mostly, which includes Seti@Home, or brute-force encryption such as BitCoin) and the software has to be specially written with GPGPU code.

Moving tasks from one GPU to the other will have negligible effect. However the separate card does have its own memory controller, etc. so there is more power usage at idle. But not that much, really.

Turning up settings in your games because the discrete GPU is much more capable will result in much higher power usage. This is why powerful GPUs have a reputation for producing a lot of heat. And this is where your assumption breaks down. Yes, CPUs are less efficient at processing graphics. But that necessarily means they do less work, not that they consume more power. Even for GPGPU, the video card rarely uses less power than the CPU, it just gets much more work done.

Of course, this extra heat is being produced on a separate board, which may be less problematic as far as overheating is concerned.

As a general rule, the integrated GPUs are designed with an emphasis on low power usage, not performance. Discrete graphics cards will use more power and create more heat.

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .