Not everyone builds a computer for gaming, sometimes you just need a good PC to browse the web and maybe do some homework and/or work. But, does every computer absolutely need a graphics card? Or could you get by without one?
Well, I have good news. Not all computers need a graphics card and it’s completely 100% possible to get by without one – especially if you’re not gaming. But, there are some stipulations. Since you still need a way to render what you see on your monitor, you’ll need a processor with an Integrated Graphics Processing Unit (or iGPU for short).
Luckily, finding a processor (we’ll call that a CPU – or an APU – from now on) with an iGPU isn’t half as confusing as it sounds and using it is even easier!
What is an iGPU?
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s look at what an iGPU is and why you need one.
In short, an iGPU is a chip in your CPU with the sole job of turning data into images – basically, everything you see on your monitor. Modern iGPUs are more than capable of playing 4K video and handling ALL basic tasks – they can even tackle some light-duty gaming.
Without some kind of GPU, whether it’s integrated or dedicated, you won’t be able to see anything on your monitor. That’s to say, it’s essential that you make sure your processor is equipped with an iGPU if you’re trying to avoid buying a dedicated graphics card. There are affordable graphics cards under $300 if you don’t want to drop too much on one.
Where an iGPU falls short is where a dedicated graphics card comes in. But, you only need a dGPU (dedicated graphics) if you’re doing things like rendering video, 3D design, gaming, and things of that nature. Luckily, if you find that an iGPU just doesn’t cut it for your needs, it’s really easy to add a dedicated graphics card to any build.
Which CPUs have iGPUs?
Both AMD and Intel have processors in their lineup that are equipped with iGPUs – but not all of them are called CPUs.
On Intel’s side, it’s easy to know which CPUs come with an iGPU because they all do, barring some of their older processors that is. But, anything from the 4th to the 8th generation of CPUs will come with integrated graphics – even the Pentium options.
On AMD’s side, your options are a little more restricted, you’ll need to look at their APUs (Accelerated Processing Unit) like the R5 2400G and R3 2200G; conversely, AMD’s CPUs like the R5 2600 and R7 2700 do not come with iGPUs.
How to use an iGPU
Even easier than finding a CPU/APU that’s equipped with an iGPU is actually using it.
There’s just 1 step here: plug your monitor into your motherboard’s display output. Yep, it’s really that simple!
If you were to add a dedicated graphics card to your build, the only thing you would have to change is the location of your display connection. Instead of plugging into your motherboard, you’d move the connection to your graphics card.
Couldn’t be any easier!
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if you don’t have a graphics card?
If you don’t have a graphics card then you’ll need an iGPU you’ll still be able to see some graphics and movement as the CPU can still help the computer calculate the pixels. However, if you are trying to do graphic-intense actions with your PC then there may be significant lag (such as if you try to play a game that the CPU can’t render).
Is a graphic card necessary for music production?
A graphics card is necessary for music production so that you can properly see the pixels updating in accordance with the notes, beats per minute (BPM), etc. Without it, you won’t be able to run most music production programs.
What are graphics cards used for other than gaming?
Graphics cards are used to display out on your computer and are especially important for high computing applications such as bitcoin mining, video editing, and image editing such as photoshop. The demands for many of these ranges just like gaming but you can use a relatively affordable one effectively.
Can you start a PC without a GPU?
You can start a PC without a GPU, but you won’t be able to see a display unless you have an iGPU. As in without either you can turn it on but won’t be able to see anything.
As you can see, it’s more than possible to run a PC without a graphics card – if you don’t need one. If you’re not going to be gaming or doing some kind of graphical design/video work, why blow hundreds of dollars on something you’ll never use – aka a dedicated GPU? There’s just no point!
Might as well just skip that altogether and buy more RAM + a stronger CPU with integrated graphics instead!
So, if you’re trying to piece together a new “homework/work” computer, rest assured knowing you do not need to blow money on parts you won’t be needing. Modern iGPUs are more than capable of handling all basic tasks and even if you find that it’s not quite powerful enough for what you need, adding a dedicated GPU can be done whenever you want!
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