Does a PC need a graphics card if it’s not for gaming?

Updated: February 14th, 2020By: BrantonGuides2 Comments

upgrading graphics card

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.

cpu chip

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.

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!

motherboard rear io connections

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!


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!

Have a question? Ask below! 

About the Author


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Hey there! I'm Branton, the founder and lead editor here at PC Game Haven. Since our launch in 2015, we've helped thousands upon thousands of gamers build their dream desktops, find the perfect peripherals, and more. Thanks for stopping by!

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Caldeen Benedict
Caldeen Benedict

My mouse and computer keep locking up, the screen also flash’s black and then comes on again. I keep having to hard boot it back on. I get a message that my video card failed and recovered. Is it just my card or my whole desktop PC dying?