I was wondering if a GPU is needed in order for a computer to turn on and display things.I am only new to the computing stuff so sorry for being a noob.

  • Most CPUs today are sold with iGPU or or motherboards in the past were told with iGPUs. – Ramhound Mar 15 '16 at 20:44
  • This is a really good link to a question right here on Superuser. Check it out. superuser.com/questions/944961/… – Daedalus Mar 15 '16 at 20:45
  • "Computer" is a very broad term. Computers predate GPUs. Do you really mean (desktop) PC? – sawdust Mar 15 '16 at 21:38

Memory mapped character and memory mapped frame buffer displays used to be quite common, and you couldn't correctly call them GPUs. No processing, just hardware, timing direct memory fetches to DACs

In addition there are serial port I/O based machines with no display at all

So... No.

  • 1
    So.. yes. according your first paragraphs. – Giacomo Catenazzi Mar 15 '16 at 21:13
  • If it is not running a program, it is not a processor. So.. No. – infixed Mar 15 '16 at 21:24
  • 1
    But can you get something that displays video but doesn't have a GPU these days? And while a serial-only computer certainly could exist the BIOS of a PC is going to beep and die if it can't find a video display device. – Loren Pechtel Mar 15 '16 at 21:32
  • I'm not sure what POSTs do these days. But there was a time when memory located 0xb0000 counted as a display card. As a recent commercial example, I wouldn't call the ATI EAS1000 video chip that Dell and others have used as minimal video on servers is anything like a GPU. (within a decade is recent, right?) – infixed Mar 15 '16 at 21:47
  • I seem to recall there was a Video BIOS ROM extension mapped in to memory too. But it's been a while, and I don't remember where it was mapped. POST may have looked for that to detect video too. – infixed Mar 15 '16 at 22:01

If by "computer" you mean a standard machine running a graphical operating system such as Windows or Mac OS X, then yes, you need a GPU to which to connect your display to. As others have mentioned, this GPU could be built-in on the motherboard (in which case your motherboard will have a graphics port such as VGA, DVI, HDMI or DisplayPort) or you could have a separate graphics card - the latter usually being more expensive but giving you a higher quality.

In the broader term, "computer" meaning any kind of microprocessor based product, and "display" not being reduced to 40" screens showing some great graphics, and "things" including simple alphanumeric signs, then no, a GPU is not needed to display that.

Just to give you one example, many embedded computers (such as routers) can be connected to via the serial port. Through this connection, you can usually display the text console of the system which professionals can use to check the system status and in some cases even perform some emergency tasks.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.