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Everywhere I go on the internet I hear people saying a dedicated graphics card is better than an integrated graphics card. What advantages does it have that makes it so much better? Dedicated graphic cards have their own memory built in but if I assigned the same amount of ram to an integrated dedicated card, why would it be less good?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

The most basic answer is this.

Integrated graphics: You are asking your CPU to take care of the workload of the CPU and the Graphics card, slowing down all of the work in the process.

Dedicated video card: You are putting less of the workload on the CPU. This frees up the CPU to work on tasks that it is best at, while leaving the GPU to work on tasks that it is best at.

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So which means a dedicated graphics card has it's own sort of processing utility? – CodeFinity Oct 24 '12 at 15:21
Exactly, its called a GPU, a Graphics Processing Unit. – francisswest Oct 24 '12 at 15:22
Woops, you answered the question before I could edit :P Also this graphics card runs out of cpu will it go on take cpu from the actual processor? Just like it lends ram when it runs out of video card – CodeFinity Oct 24 '12 at 15:24
The internal graphics card, or embedded graphics, will only take a bit from the CPU, but it is usually enough to cause slowdown. Also, since the CPU is not made to handle graphics processing solely, it is less efficient at it. A dedicated card on the other hand, has been designed with graphics handling in mind, and is a ton more efficient. A dedicated card will never leach (or should never) memory from the system. – francisswest Oct 24 '12 at 15:29
What does it do when it runs out of gpu memory, would it go lend it from the cpu, and thanks for all the info :D – CodeFinity Oct 24 '12 at 15:31

The difference is simple - dedicated graphics cards typically have much faster performance, especially for 3D rendering and anything that can get a major speedup from hardware acceleration. The difference in 3D rendering speeds between an integrated and a discrete card can literally be orders of magnitude.

Now, having said that, if you're only using your system for word processing and email, you'll never notice the difference.

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The core difference is that a dedicated graphics card is a big device with a number of components whose sole purpose is to make graphics as fast as possible. Every bit of it is designed for this purpose. An integrated graphics solution is a design compromise, limited by the amount of silicon, space, and power devoted to graphics.

And the biggest compromise is that integrated graphics systems do not have any (or very little) memory that is dedicated to the graphics processor. This means the graphics hardware has to compete with the CPU for memory bandwidth. No matter how good the processing hardware is, this acts like a choke point that drastically limits its performance.

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A good thing to note about the difference as well is in laptops that a Dedicated will take significantly more power (logically), which (can) greatly reduce your battery life.

That being said, however, depending on your OS and configuration, more and more are supporting graphics switching to save you the power when you don't need to offload to the GPU and fire up the GPU when you do need to.

So if you're looking at lappies, that's worth considering.

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