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I'm planning on getting a basic Calculation setup including the following:

As you see, none of them have an integrated GPU of any type.

I will use this setup as a server 99% of the time, without any display. Though, I'll need a GUI (gnome or else) for easier installation and sometimes for very episodic use.

My question is, do I really need to install a very simple GPU, or can I run a low resolution GUI for time to time with just the CPU and the motherboard?

  • You need to buy a graphics card. – DavidPostill Sep 22 '16 at 12:34
  • If you want is display output, you'll need a display adapter (aka video card). Not all display adapters have GPUs. Hopefully these links can help you discern the difference. – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Sep 22 '16 at 12:38
  • The motherboard actually has a DVI and a HDMI output port. What will happen if I connect a Display to it then ? Here are the motherboard details : goo.gl/5WaCZB – ylnor Sep 22 '16 at 12:41
  • Most likely nothing. You wouldn't have the hardware to generate the signal that would be required by a display. To make sure contact the manufacturer whenever they have a dedicated chip on the motherboard or if it's just a port for a graphics unit that would be on the CPU. – Seth Sep 22 '16 at 12:51
  • @ylnor - It will do nothing. Your CPU does not have a GPU, so plugging a monitor into a video output port on the motherboard, which isn't connected to anything will do nothing. – Ramhound Sep 22 '16 at 12:52
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This is pretty much what Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 said: all computers ran displays without GPUs until the late 90's. You do not need GPU (or even display adapter) to operate a computer, computers can run without displays or with entirely software rendered displays.

However connecting a physical monitor will require a physical connector to do it, which you will require a display adapter for. Again, as per Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007's comment, many of what consumers consider "graphics cards" contain GPUs, but this is not mandatory - many display adapters, particularly ones designed for servers do not have GPUs.

Based on you saying you want a GUI to do an install, then you'll need a display adapter to be able to connect a monitor - unless you buy a server board instead that has built-in GPU-less or networked display output. You would need a basic graphics card, though it would be easier to just buy a CPU with a built-in GPU (e.g. E3-1225V5 or i5-6600K)

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    I beg to differ. Even earlier PCs of course had GPUs, too. It was called Video Interface Controller or whatever, had no 3D acceleration, but it still did what GPUs do today: Take commands over a bus (ISA, PCI, AGP, ...) and create an image in its output buffer accordingly. Without a (integrated) circuit like that, analog video output is virtually impossible. – Daniel B Sep 22 '16 at 13:46
  • can a BIOS-based machine even POST without initializing VGA? (e.g. if there is no "vga chipset" on the MB, nor on the cpu, nor on the gpu) – Yorik Sep 22 '16 at 14:15
  • I'm not sure with consumer grade hardware, with server hardware it's definitely possible. It would be a simple check in the code I guess. – Seth Sep 23 '16 at 5:31
  • @DanielB - the very fact that you call it a VIC and not a GPU means by definition it is not a GPU. A modern GPU does not do the job of a VIC. Modern graphics cards integrate a VIC onto the same board as the GPU which does a completely different job. Only very recently have VIC duties been integrated into the GPU die itself (last two generations or so). – qasdfdsaq Feb 12 '17 at 7:05
  • @Yorik : as is stated in the first line of the answer, yes. Unless the manufacturer specifically decides otherwise. – qasdfdsaq Feb 12 '17 at 7:06

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