One of the biggest questions you’ll ask yourself when building a custom computer is which graphics processor you should use in your machine. The main choice is between integrated graphics and dedicated graphics processors. The decision mainly rests on what you intend to do with your computer.
Integrated graphics are where the graphics processing hardware is integrated directly into the main CPU itself. Examples of integrated graphics include Intel Iris and AMD Ryzen with Radeon Graphics. On the AMD processor, the CPU and GPU are on the same die, marketed as an “Accelerated Processing Unit,” or APU.
Integrated graphics are popular on laptops because they allow manufacturers to build smaller machines without the bulk of a separate graphics chip. They also use less power, enabling users to run off the battery for longer.
The downside is that they’re not as powerful as the dedicated GPUs you’ll find in gaming desktop PCs and laptops. If you play a lot of modern 3D games, you’ll likely be disappointed in the performance of an integrated chip, but they’ve been steadily getting better over the years. If you use your computer for basic tasks, you’ll be able to get by with integrated graphics.
A dedicated graphics chip is a graphics processor that is separate from the CPU. On a desktop machine, it’s usually on a PCI-X card. On a laptop, it’ll usually be soldered onto the motherboard. The main advantage of dedicated graphics is raw performance, whether in gaming, modeling, or video editing.
External GPUs have become more common in recent years and offer a compromise between the two solutions. The GPU is housed in a box that connects to the computer and to electric power. Some enclosures can accept desktop graphics cards, similar to a how a hard drive enclosure accepts ordinary hard drives. This allows for the portability of a laptop but the raw power of a dedicated GPU when higher performance is needed.
If you need advice about what kind of graphics solution is best for your custom computer, please feel free to get in touch.