What is the difference between both these things? Are they same? Is there a difference between their capabilities?

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    In addition to the (correct) answers you were given, it's worth to mention that sometimes people refer to the graphics card as "GPU" (sort of synecdoche).
    – gd1
    Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 15:17

5 Answers 5


The graphics card is the hardware as a whole, while the GPU is a chip, part of the graphics card or an onboard similar, which stands for "Graphics Processing Unit".

GPU on Graphics Card

Image: GPU on Graphics Card

  • 10
    Might be worth noting the two are generally used interchangeably. PCs can be sold with an integrated Graphics Card (No separate card) or a discrete GPU. so although your right marketing teams might use slight incorrect terms and it is generally accepted or ignored. Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 13:31
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    the GPU can be considered the whole card, just like some people consider the CPU the whole case (containing motherboard and all the hardware). still, the GPU is the GPU, not the whole card. Just like a CPU is a CPU, not a desktop case itself. note: in portugal, it is as i said at least, considering the CPU case. Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 14:41
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    @Znau although some people do incorrectly refer to the whole computer case and what is inside as the CPU, this is done out of ignorance. It may have caught on among others who are not in-the-know, because it is a catchy little acronym.... but that still does not make it correct. The same applies to GPU versus Graphics Card. It is better to perpetuate knowledge, than it is to encourage ignorance. +1 for the answer.
    – Bon Gart
    Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 15:20
  • In addition, a GPU could also be integrated into a CPU, which means it is not part of a discrete graphics card. This is commonly known as an integrated GPU or iGPU. Commented Dec 11, 2021 at 2:51

Graphics card is the piece of hardware that is responsible of producing output to monitor. It has a connector(s) for monitor(s) and another connector to computer motherboard. Graphics card has its own memorymodules and most importantly the graphics processing unit that actually creates the display we see on monitor screen. Modern graphics cards also have power input connectors and their own cooling solutions.

GPU is short from Graphics Processing Unit. It is specially designed processor to most effectively process the displaying needs of a working computer.

GPU is an integral part of a graphics card, so that is the difference between these two.


Graphics Card is a complete board that gets binary data from the processor and outputs the result to the monitor in the form of pixels.Now there are lots of components in the Graphics card like

  • GPU
  • RAM (A dedicated RAM inside the graphics card used only by the card.Not to be confused with the system RAM)
  • DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) that converts the digital data to analog format to be displayed in the monitor.

GPU(Graphics Processing Unit) is the dedicated processor inside Graphics Card that does all the heavylifting. It differs from the main processor in that its specially designed to perform the rendering task.


In previous generations, an integrated GPU was a seperate chip connected over pci, agp or pci-e to the system which was on the motherboard. These processors were in many cases minimal, low powered processors, such as Via unichrome, or intel integrated/HD graphic, though it was entirely possible to find motherboards with better graphics chips like Nvidia or Ati - this is common with laptops, if they arn't using switchable graphics. These days, integrated GPUs are more often embedded into processors and are on the same die. With some older systems, the iGPU used the same PCIe or AGP lanes as the discrete card, so it was not possible to use a discrete card and the iGPU at once. iGPUs also usually share ram with the system. Other than this, its entirely possible that your iGPU can do nearly all the things you need, and/or be on par with a low to medium end discrete card at the very least.

Graphics cards on the other hand are swappable pieces of equipment that, as per their name, come on their own cards. In most cases these tend to have better, more powerful processors, and their own ram. While primarily used for gaming, its possible to use an array of graphics cards for speeding up tasks that require parallel processing like password cracking. You can also, in some cases, get identical cards to work together through crossfire or sli You might also get a graphics card to add more monitors to a system. These days, most graphics cards are PCIe x16 (though means exist to install them on a x1 slot) running at x8 or x16 speeds, or mxm - which is a laptop slot for graphics cards.


A very good explanation from howstuffworks. Here is the gist:

It's a PCB (printed circuit board) similar to the motherboard. Just as a motherboard has got a 'primary' RAM and a CPU, a graphics card too has got a RAM and GPU (graphics processing unit). GPU is designed to process much faster than the CPU (usually needed in computer games).


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