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What is Discrete Graphics Card? [2023]

What is Discrete Graphics Card? [2023]

A graphics card is the most crucial system element after the processor since it handles all the loads related to the graphics. Every graphics card has a graphics processing unit or GPU that does all the graphics-related calculations and processing. A GPU is a great way to share the load with the processor or CPU and keep everything flowing at its optimal pace. In short, if you’re building a custom rig for gaming or content creation, you have to invest in a good-quality card. This is the only way to enjoy the true essence of gaming and content creation. 

For your information, there are two types of graphics support: integrated graphics and discrete graphics. . In this post, we will discuss all the aspects of discrete graphics, including benefits, downsides, uses, and more. After knowing all this stuff related to the discrete graphics, you will be able to decide better whether you go for this graphics support or not. In short, be with me until the post’s end to get a better idea about the topic.  

Key Takeaways

  • Discrete graphics cards are separate devices that connect to the motherboard via a PCIe slot and have their own memory, cooling system and power supply.
  • They can enhance the performance, quality and features of graphics-intensive applications such as gaming, video editing and 3D rendering.
  • They can also support multiple monitors, VR headsets, ray tracing, DLSS and other advanced technologies.
  • They require a compatible motherboard, CPU, power supply, case and monitor to function properly.
  • They are more expensive, power-hungry and heat-generating than an integrated or onboard graphics solution.

What is a discrete graphics card?

A discrete graphics card is separate from the central processing unit or CPU; hence it’s known as “discrete”. It’s an individual element of the computer with its own dedicated memory, structure, design, and cooling system. It’s connected to the motherboard via the given PCIe slot, which delivers 5x better speeds. At the same time, it consumes more power so it produces a reasonable amount of heat during the process. Most of the time, these graphics are found in desktop PCs but are also available in laptops or compact PCs as well. 

Discrete Graphics Card
Discrete Graphics Card

But how are discrete graphics different from others? As I mentioned earlier, discrete graphics are an individual computer’s elements. In contrast, integrated graphics are built into the processor, called “integrated” graphics. There is no dedicated memory bank or cooling system for these graphics. Instead, it shares the memory with the CPU plus fetches power from it. In this way, the integrated graphics use less energy and produce less heat as well. Plus, you don’t need to buy a cooling system; rather, you can work it out with the same CPU cooler.

Why choose discrete graphics?

The dedicated or discrete graphics are made to provide better performance than the integrated graphics support. But can the integrated card beat the dedicated one? The answer is yes. At the same time, you have to consider what your usage is. Do you really need the top-tier performance of the discrete graphics, or can you work out with the performance that the integrated graphics provide? Let’s look at some practical statistics to better understand the performance aspect. 

For instance, the Intel Iris Xe graphics given in the current-era Core i7 processor provide the same graphics output as the Nvidia GTX 560 discrete card. Since the GTX 560 is a mid-tier card, you can get mediocre performance from the integrated graphics. For your information, the top-tier integrated graphics come in the AMD Ryzen 9 series processor. But still, cards like the RTX 3090 Ti are three times faster than these. In short, the dedicated cards perform better. 

How to choose integrated graphics?

Before heading further into the topic, you must consider some essential factors when choosing dedicated or discrete graphics. These factors will help you quickly find whether you really need discrete graphics or whether you can work them out with integrated graphics. Be with me until the end of the post and consider these factors as your priority. 

integrated graphics
Integrated graphics

Your usage

Usage is another crucial user-based factor to consider while purchasing a graphics card. The integrated graphics are enough for you if you use your PC to do formal internet surfing or watch some multimedia. In contrast, those users who play top-tier games on their system or do content creation must invest in a good-quality dedicated graphics card. But some integrated graphics are also there to enjoy stable gaming performance.


The budget is one of the essential user-based factors in purchasing something. You have to choose a good-quality graphics card without breaking the bank. For your information, integrated graphics are usually less expensive since they come within the processor. So you don’t have to spend money on dedicated graphics separately. In short, if you have no money left, you may work out with integrated ones. 

Power usage and Cooling

As I mentioned earlier, integrated graphics use less power than discrete graphics, producing less heat. Therefore, integrated ones only need a little thermal management. In contrast, the dedicated card uses way more power to reach the optimal performance level, so they need a better cooling system. When buying either dedicated or integrated graphics cards, make sure to consider this to get true output. 


The graphics performance is another factor to help you decide between integrated and dedicated graphics. The integrated support isn’t comparatively that effective in providing ultra-edge performance in gaming and content creation, but still enough to deal with 1080p gaming or mid-tier content creation. In contrast, you can utilize even up to 4k/8k in-game graphics resolution or get peak productivity using discrete graphics.


A graphics card is necessary to play current-era games or create attractive illustrations via productive software. Out of its two types, dedicated and discrete graphics, discrete graphics cards are getting popular. But what is discrete graphics card? We have tried our best to tell you some in-depth facts about these graphics, together with their true usage. For instance, a discrete or dedicated graphics card is an individual computer component with its own VRAM memory, structure, and cooling design, unlike the integrated graphics embedded in the processor. 

At the same time, you have to decide whether you need a dedicated graphics card or can put it together via the integrated graphics. Well, a dedicated graphics card performs better than integrated graphics. If you just use the computer for casual internet surfing or to watch multimedia, the integrated graphics card is more than enough for you. In contrast, those who play high-end games on their PC or do graphics designing must invest in a good-quality dedicated or discrete graphics card; even if you have an integrated one, you can pair a dedicated one.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can discrete GPU use RAM?

No, a discrete graphics card doesn’t use RAM. Instead, it has its own graphics memory and graphics processing unit (GPU) to perform all the operations. So a graphics card doesn’t depend upon the system’s RAM to perform its operations.

Do I need discrete graphics card?

You need a discrete graphics card if you’re a gamer or content creator or use graphics-intensive productivity software. You can’t use software like Photoshop or Lightroom without having a good-quality graphics card. In contrast, ordinary users who just do internet surfing or watch multimedia don’t need a discrete graphics card.

Are discrete graphics good for gaming?

Discrete graphics cards are not just good but perfect for gaming. Some are even made only for gamers and content creators, called low-hash-rate GPUs to distinguish from the GPUS that are made for crypto minors.

Sajid Ali

CEO, Lead Writer

Sajid Ali is a tech enthusiast and gamer who loves to write reviews about gaming hardware. He has a passion for staying up-to-date with the latest technological advancements and loves sharing his knowledge with others. Sajid studied Intermediate Computer Science at Degree College and went on to earn his Bachelor's in Computer Science from GSC. In his free time, you can find him testing out new hardware and software, or playing the latest video games. Sajid's in-depth understanding of computers and his love for gaming make him the perfect author to turn to for all things tech and gaming.