What Is A Discrete Graphics Card? -The Easy Answer [2023]

Being a gamer or a productive user you will definitely use a discrete graphics card or a dedicated graphics card in your PC or look for this while buying a new laptop. Now let’s know what a graphics card is and why we need a graphics card. A graphics card is basically a mini-computer inside your computer consisting of the graphics processing unit. Discrete GPU is not a part of the CPU. It is added separately from the motherboard.

In this article we will discuss about what is a discrete graphics card, what is the basic difference between discrete GPU and integrated GPU, and which one is better for you. Therefore, without wasting any time let’s get started.

What is a Discrete Graphics Card?

The discrete graphics card is nothing but a dedicated graphics card that we fit into our PC cabinet box with the motherboard’s PCIe x16 slot. This is said to be discrete because it handles all the graphics-related tasks separately. On the other hand, a GPU is not a graphics card. The Graphics Processing Unit is placed into the graphics card to perform tasks related to the video and images. Both depend on one another, individually they are nothing.

A discrete graphics card has its own memory, which is called VRAM or you can call it as video memory. You will see lots of people saying that discrete graphics cards are fast because they have their own memory and the VRAM does not use them in any other work but only processes video and image-related things.

What is an Integrated Graphics Card?

An integrated graphics card is basically an in-built GPU inside a processor. This GPU does not have its own memory, instead, it uses the RAM of the computer for video and image processing. It does not need any fan for cooling because it does not use so much power. Integrated GPU is used for basic video and image processing. This kind of GPU is found in small form factor machines.

Which Is Better – Discrete v. Integrated Graphics?

Now we come to the meat and potatoes of the whole discussion: Which one should you choose, discrete or integrated?

We’ve already established that dedicated graphics cards perform better than integrated ones but there are certain cases where it’s better to go for integrated graphics. For example, integrated graphics consume far less power, so if you are a laptop user who values a long battery life you should seriously consider getting a laptop with integrated graphics over a one which has a discrete graphics card.

Just because they aren’t good for gaming doesn’t mean that integrated graphics can’t run games smoothly, this goes for both laptops and desktop PCs. It is just hands-on as to what games you’ll be playing and in what resolution. 

If you just want to run older video games or do not want to run the latest games on higher resolution settings like lower than the 1080P or the 720P then the integrated graphics I mean the Intel Iris Xe or the older UHD graphics or the AMD Radeon Vega 8 graphics are more than enough to handle that resolution or in decent frame rate.

Finally, if you’re not into gaming at all and just need your PC for some light web browsing, word-processing, OTT Platform streaming like Netflix or Amazon Prime and many more, then you do not need a dedicated graphics card. If you use a Graphics card then it would be the equivalent of getting a Lamborghini just to make your daily high-traffic 15 Minute commute to work. Intel’s latest generation of Iris Xe or even the older UHD graphics or AMD’s Radeon Vega 8 also works just fine even at 4K or the Ultra-HD resolutions. 

What’s more, if you are considering to buy a dedicated graphics card because your PC feels sluggish but you do not play video games, then you probably just need more RAM. Adding another RAM module should considerably reinvigorate your PC and it’ll end up being way cheaper.

Now don’t get us wrong, we too love dedicated graphics cards as much as a gamer but with how expensive they are, it would be a shame for you to buy one high end Graphics card and then not end up using it to its full potential or even half of it. So if we’ve just described your need as a PC user, then there’s no need to bother with a dedicated graphics card. Not only will they be overkilled in terms of wasted potential but they’ll also make you very sad. 

On the other hand, if you are looking to run the latest triple-a title games in 60 to 90 FPS or high resolution then a dedicated card is a must and the same goes for editing and graphic design software. A dedicated graphics card can handle the processing power of 3D rendering, photoshop, multiple monitor setups at the same time. Just remember that an upgrade to a dedicated graphics card will also mean you probably have to upgrade your PSU as well. Dedicated graphics cards need lots of power and of course, we mustn’t forget all the bragging rights that you will be entitled to if you own a powerful dedicated graphics card.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a discrete GPU?

Ans: Discrete GPU is a graphics processing unit which is not a part of the motherboard or CPU. It is completely separate hardware (a mini-computer) that is connected with the motherboard in the cabinet box.

What is the difference between a dedicated graphics card and an integrated graphics card?

Ans: A dedicated graphics card is a completely different hardware (a minicomputer) it has its own RAM heatsinks and fans, but the integrated graphics card is a part of the CPU which does not have its own component. It uses the resources of the computer.

What would happen if you remove the discrete GPU of a desktop while it is in use?

Ans: When the Graphics card’s edge is removed from the PCIe slot. If that is a PCIe card, there is a high chance to generate an arc to jump pins and damage the CPU.

Can I have an APU and dedicated card?

Ans:  Yes, we can use APU and GPU together but when we use both of them together the graphic part of the APU will stop and the APU will just work like a CPU.


So to summarize, integrated graphics cards are built into a CPU or motherboard, dedicated graphics cards are a wholly separate piece of hardware and discrete graphics cards are basically just dedicated graphics cards for laptops. Dedicated cards perform way better but they also require more power to run and more money to buy. So we recommend integrated graphics cards for the most casual users and non-gamers. In any case, we hope that now you completely know what is a discrete graphics card.

So if you still have any doubts, then feel free to ask in the comment section below.

Also, let us know in the comment section if this blog is helpful or not. Don’t forget to check out G-Prime every week for updates.

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