Integrated vs. Dedicated Graphics Card

When purchasing a new computer there are several things to consider. How past of a processor do you want? How much memory should you have? Should you get a Mac, or a PC? Another consideration is whether or not to choose an Integrated Graphics Card, or a Dedicated Graphics Card.

To understand which one you should get, you need to know what they are.

An Integrated Graphics Card is actually built into the motherboard. A Dedicated Graphics Card is plugged into the motherboard, and is in fact a separate card. There are pluses and minuses to either.
For the Integrated Graphics Card one of the main advantages is cost. A motherboard with an Integrated Graphics Card is usually less expensive. There is nothing to install, and one less add on card cluttering up the interior of your computer. If you are using the computer for functions that are not graphics intense, such as word processing, or running spreadsheets, then an Integrated Graphics Card will probably suit you just fine.

There are some considerations that might make using an Integrated Graphics Card less attractive. For example, you cannot generally add video memory. Additionally, if there is a failure within the onboard video on the motherboard you will likely have to replace the entire board. Not only that if the motherboard itself fails you will have to replace it and will not have a graphics card to use. Something else to be aware of is the fact that system resources are often shared by Integrated Graphics Cards, and can cause bottlenecks in video processing.

Dedicated Graphics Cards are exactly what the name implies. You have much more versatility and choice. If you are running graphics intense games, or programs, you would want to get a Dedicated Graphics Card. As a rule, they are made with specific memory included, such as 128 MB, 512 MB and on some newer cards 1 GB or more.

Dedicated Graphics Cards are removable. So if you get a new system, and your card has not become obsolete you can place it in your new system. Conversely, if the card fails, you can replace it easily. You would also have the option to upgrade the graphics in your system, should you decide you want to get something faster.

One main disadvantage to using a Dedicated Graphics Card would be the cost. A high end Dedicated Graphics Card such as one made by ATI, or Nvidia, can cost one hundred dollars and up. The cost depends on the speed of the Graphics Processing Unit, and the amount of video memory the card has.

There is another potential solution to the dilemma of choosing between the Integrated and Dedicated Graphics Cards. Some motherboards have a graphic slot available which would enable you to use a Dedicated Card. To do this on most of these hybrid boards requires changing a jumper setting.

One of the best ways to make the decision between the two is to consider carefully what you plan to do with the computer.

Each solution has its advantages, and disadvantages. As with many things relating to computer hardware, the choice depends on you.

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