Integrated vs Dedicated Graphics Which Laptop to choose?

Integrated vs Dedicated Graphics

If you’re not sure of the difference between integrated vs dedicated graphics when considering which laptop to choose. You could be throwing your hard-earned cash down the pan. Understanding the difference will ensure you choose the right laptop. Whether that is for gaming, graphics design, or just browsing the net.

What I will say is that you can run games with either graphics solution. It’s just that you can run many more high-fidelity game titles at faster frame rates if your laptop has a dedicated graphics card. Opposed to buying a laptop with just integrated graphics.

Choosing the wrong solution could make a huge difference. Especially now with graphics processing technology evolving so fast. The latest discrete GPUs and integrated GPUs from Nvidia, AMD, and Intel have brought many new and exciting features to gaming that you don’t want to miss out on.

So, in this post, you will learn the difference between integrated vs dedicated graphics. And, if you are planning on buying a laptop. Here you will find the best integrated graphics and dedicated graphics cards available in today’s portable gaming machines. Reading my guide will ensure you find the perfect gaming laptop for your needs.

Related: How Long Do Gaming laptops Last?

Contents Of This Page

What Is A GPU?

GPU stands for graphics processing unit, originally designed to speed up the process of graphics rendering. GPUs have become one of the most important laptop components for any gamer or graphics designer.

What makes the latest GPUs special is they can process many more pieces of data simultaneously than ever before, which speeds up the rendering process of video and complex graphics. Because of this, GPUs are used in many other applications. But widely known for their powers in video gaming.

What Does A GPU Do?

When anyone talks about gaming and performance in particular, the graphics processing unit is always the most talked-about component. Receiving all the plaudits for their gaming performance. 

However, it’s not all positive when it comes to PC GPUs. The word on the street is that there is a shortage globally. Fortunately, for us laptop gamers we don’t have the same issue because laptop GPUs are neatly tucked inside the chassis on arrival.

Anyway, what do they do? Quite simply, the graphics processing unit or GPU accelerates the rendering of 3D graphics. What makes them special is they can process many pieces of data simultaneously, and the more Cores the GPU has, the faster the data can be processed. 

In addition, GPUs have allowed game developers to add more and more realistic scenes, with life-like shadows and amazing lighting into our favourite game titles. Which helps make our gaming experiences more enjoyable.

But the best mobile GPUs allow us to play our games at higher resolutions and at faster frames rates than ever before. Which now include 4K and 8K displays, if so you choose. Moreover, the latest Nvidia RTX 30 series GPUs have also sped up the rendering times of complex graphics in higher-definition, making them the ideal tool for graphics designers and content creators on the go. But the perfect solution for a gaming enthusiast.

Read Next: Is Razer A Good Gaming Brand?

What Are Integrated Graphics?

Integrated graphics or shared graphics sit on the same chip as the CPU and are soldered to the motherboard. One major difference between integrated graphics vs dedicated graphics is that integrated graphics don’t have their own memory. They will utilize your system’s memory and share that memory with your laptop’s processor. 

As an example; If you have a laptop with integrated graphics (only) and 4GB RAM. When your laptop is processing any graphics related data, the IGPU or integrated graphics processing unit will use some of that 4GB RAM. If at the same time, your CPU is carrying out processing tasks. It will also use some of that RAM. The problems occur when there is too much going on. What could happen is that your system may stutter and take an eternity to complete the tasks at hand. Or worse, one or more of the programmes you have running may not run at all, leading to a poor laptop experience.

However, there are some benefits to buying a laptop with integrated graphics. First, they will use less power than a laptop with a dedicated card, and less power equals less heat. So no additional laptop cooling solution is required. And because they use less power the battery will last much longer, which will help to prolong the life of your laptop. Most of the time, a laptop with integrated graphics will outlive a laptop with a dedicated card.

Besides, the latest integrated graphics will offer more than enough graphics processing power to process graphics related data for entry-level gaming at 1080p. The very best integrated graphics will allow you to watch 4K movies on the go without too much fuss. And, that’s not always been the case.

What Are Dedicated Graphics?

A laptop’s discrete or dedicated graphics processing unit or GPU is a standalone computer chip. They are sat on their own circuit board which is attached to a PCI Express slot inside the laptop and have their own cooling solution. (internal fans) Which is something not required for integrated graphics.

Another difference between integrated vs dedicated graphics is that the latter has its own memory called VRAM, which is short for video random access memory. The VRAM is responsible for storing all the graphics data, allowing the GPU quick access to the data so it can perform the calculations needed to show the images on your display.

Dedicated graphics processing units are now used in a range of applications including 2D and 3D graphics and video rendering and now offer artificial intelligence or AI capabilities. 

Amazingly, the latest dedicated graphics cards available for laptops have up to 16 GB VRAM. Meaning they can process data much faster and much smoother than ever before. Giving laptop gamers a competitive edge.

A decent discrete GPU can help to improve reaction times and dramatically lower the time it takes for an image or scene to be shown on screen. Over time GPUs have become much more flexible, allowing game developers to do so much more in terms of how computer games look and how they behave. 

Furthermore, the latest discrete GPUs allow for advanced display technologies and many new graphics rendering techniques like Ray Tracing and DLSS. Therefore, enhancing our experiences in the latest high-fidelity game titles.

However, because of the additional power required for these technologies, heat will build up. You could have the most powerful graphics card in the universe, if the cooling of the laptop isn’t up to scratch it would be pointless.

I must stress, that the cooling of a laptop is such am important factor, unlike a gaming PC there isn’t much room inside a laptop to add things like water coolers and huge fans. But they have improved vastly in recent years.

Which Are Better For Gaming, Integrated Vs Dedicated Graphics?

A laptop with a dedicated graphics card will definitely offer more graphics processing power than one with integrated graphics. Not only that, but a discrete GPU will make your on-screen images look much better, and your frame rates could be off the scale with the right GPU at your disposal.

There are also many other benefits to having a laptop with a discrete GPU, besides the power, are the new AI features and graphics technologies now available in the latest games. Like Raytracing, with lifelike shadows and reflections. And the AI rendering technique, DLSS that will boost frame rates while still delivering amazing images.

However, these are only possible if you had an Nvidia RTX 20 or RTX 30 series mobile discrete GPU in your portable gaming armoury. That said, having one doesn’t necessarily mean you will enjoy the best gaming experience. 

Because there are many PC games that will run fine with integrated graphics. Games such as, Minecraft, or Roblox, they are far less reliant on the power of your graphics card. In this instance, your CPU is more important than the graphics card.

My own son plays these games, and he doesn’t have a discrete GPU but enjoys his gaming as much as I do. If not more. Its only if you’re a fan of first-person shooter games like COD Warzone, Fortnite, or CSGO, games where higher frames rates would be an advantage. A laptop with a discrete GPU would be beneficial.

Titles like these, could be compatible with Ray Tracing. If it’s your desire is to experience that then you would definitely need an RTX 20 or an RTX 30 series mobile graphics card,

To put it bluntly, a discrete GPU would offer the best overall gaming performance but not necessarily the best gaming experience. It would just depend on the games you play.

Related: Best Laptops For COD Warzone

Top Dedicated Graphics Cards

Below is a list of the best dedicated graphics cards found in the latest notebooks, and mobile workstations. We have categorised each GPU to help you choose the required graphics card for your needs. However, there are many other superb discrete mobile GPUs available, like Nvidia’s RTX 20 series. Including the RTX 2060, 2070, and RTX 2080, these are all excellent GPUs that will transform any laptop into an ultimate gaming machine.

Nvidia RTX 30808-16GB 80 – 150w1245 – 1710 4K Gaming / 1440p Best Gaming
Nvidia RTX 30708GB 80 – 125w1290 – 1620 4K Gaming / 1440p High End Gaming
Nvidia RTX 30606GB 60 – 115w 1283 – 1703 High Ref Rate 1080p Mid-Range Gaming
Nvidia RTX 3050TI4GB35 – 80w1035 – 1695 Ultimate 1080p High Budget Gaming
Nvidia RTX 30504GB 35 – 80w 1057 – 1740 High 1080p Budget Gaming
Best Nvidia GPUs As Of Sept 2021
AMD RX 6800M 12GB230w 2321 – 2424Ultra-high 1440p Best Gaming
AMD RX 6700M10GB180w 1489 – 2250Epic 1440p High End Gaming
AMD RX 6600M8GB 100w1489 – 2177High 1440p High End Gaming
AMD RX 5700M 8GB180w1465 – 1720Good 1440p High-Budget Gaming
AMD RX 5600M 6GB150w1190 – 1265Good 1440p High-Budget Gaming
AMD RX 5500M 4GB85w1375 – 1645High 1080p Mid-Budget Gaming
AMD RX 5300M 3GB85w1181 – 1445Mid 1080pBudget Gaming
Best AMD GPUs As Of Sept 2021

Dedicated vs Integrated Graphics Card, Which Should You Choose?

Choosing the right graphics for your laptop is a must, but there are also so many other things to consider, like the CPU, storage, RAM, display, and battery. All important factors. 

However, choosing between dedicated vs integrated graphics is one decision that you must get right. Why? Because you could be wasting money buying a laptop that is too powerful for what you plan to do with it. 

I mean, if you want to play light video games, browse the net, and watch Netflix, then don’t waste your money buying a laptop with a dedicated GPU. Because one with a decent CPU with integrated graphics would be ok.

The same can be said if your plan is to design and edit images with software like Adobe Photoshop. Even though it would be best to have a dedicated graphics card, this software will run fine without one.

Especially with the latest integrated graphics, which have improved so much. Like Intel’s Iris XE graphics or AMD’s Radeon RX Vega 11 integrated graphics. Both, capable of running games at 1080p, albeit with low fps. As well as running many graphic design programmes.

Dedicated vs Integrated: Budget Gaming

If you don’t have the budget for the latest and greatest discrete graphics from Nvidia or AMD, that’s ok. Because you will find many affordable budget laptops that will offer a decent gaming experience.

Like one with an Nvidia RTX 3050 GPU, more than enough to enjoy the latest AI technologies. The same can be said for the AMD Radeon RX 5000 series graphics cards.

However, with only a few GBs of VRAM between them, you may need to tone down the graphics settings to enjoy the best gaming performance. But they’re more than capable of running games with decent frame rates at 1080p. They may even offer playable fps at 1440p.

Alternatively, if you’re a casual gamer and not too fussed about competing with the best. Then, a laptop with an Nvidia 20 series GPU would be good and would still allow for Ray Tracing. If you’re not too fussed about that, save some money and grab one with a GTX 10 series GPU.

Whereas, for light video gaming, a laptop with Intel’s Iris Xe Graphics would be good. Which offers discrete graphics performance without the additional heat from a dedicated graphics card. Built into Intel’s latest 11th Gen super-fast processors, and would offer playable frame rates in many of today’s popular games at 1080p. 

In my opinion, a laptop with Intel’s Iris Xe Integrated Graphics would no doubt be a perfect budget solution for designers and creators or for those looking for a casual gaming experience.

The same can be said for the latest iteration of AMD Vega graphics. Just like Intel’s Xe graphics, a laptop with only RX Vega 11 integrated graphics under the hood would also offer playable frame rates at 1080p.

Just don’t expect to blow the roof off.

Budget Discrete Graphics Cards Comparison

So, if you decide a budget discrete graphics card is for you, which one do you choose? Is it one that is powered by the NVIDIA Ampere GPU architecture allowing for DLSS, Ray tracing, and other AI technologies? Or do you go with a budget AMD GPU? Which offers faster gaming clock speeds and is built on the ground-breaking AMD RDNA architecture, and will provide high levels of graphics performance.

If you’re still undecided, there is hope. Listed below is a comparison between the Nvidia RTX 3050 and the AMD Radeon RX 5300M mobile dedicated GPUs. If you want to read the full comparison, the guys at Notebookcheck have done an amazing comparison between the RTX 3050 and the RX5300M.

Core Speed1238 – 1500 MHz1036 – 1445 MHz
Max Memory4096 MB3072 MB
Memory Size4 GB3 GB
Memory Clock1500 MHz1750 MHz
Shading Units20481408
SEE BUDGET LAPTOPAcer NitroDell G5 5505
Nvidia RTX3050 vs AMD RX5300M

Gaming Performance:

Please Note: These results are average, and the performance of the GPUs will depend on the used graphics memory, clock rate, processor, system settings, drivers, and operating systems. Therefore, the results may differ slightly with each laptop. In addition, the cooling of the laptop will play a big part in the performance of the GPU.

Low 1280 x 720118fps (average)114fps
Medium 1920 x 108074fps60fps
High 1920 x 108067fps48fps
Ultra 1920 x 108059fps35fps
Final Fantasy XVRTX 3050RX 5300m
Low 1280 x 720 117fps98.4fps
Medium 1920 x 1080 71fps51.6fps
High 1920 x 1080 49fps29.3fps
Dota 2 RTX 3050 RX 5300M
Low 1280 x 720 139fps113fps
Medium 1920 x 1080 123fps108fps
High 1920 x 1080 114fps97.9fps
Ultra 1920 x 1080107fps94.7fps

Integrated Graphics vs Dedicated: High-End Gaming

If your plan is to go toe to toe with the best and not sure which to choose between integrated graphics vs dedicated. It’s simple, you would be better affording a laptop with a dedicated graphics card.

If you didn’t know, the best mobile GPU to date, is an Nvidia RTX 3080 8GB, beating AMD’s best the AMD Radeon RX 6800M on many benchmarks. Even though, the RTX 3080 has a lower boost clock speed and a lower power consumption (230W vs 150+15W), the best mobile AMD GPU is still short.

However, you don’t necessarily need that much power, there are many other more capable GPUs that would offer the an amazing gaming laptop performance. It would also come down to the TGP (thermal graphics power) of the Nvidia graphics card. What I mean is that you could find a decent laptop with an RTX 3060, or an RTX 3070 that could out perform a laptop with an RTX 3080 simply because they have a higher TGP.

So before you go out and grab the first notebook you see ensure you check the TGP of the GPU before you part with your money. Also, the cooling of the laptop will play a big role so make sure you look at past reviews to ensure the laptop doesn’t suffer thermal issues.

Integrated Graphics Vs Dedicated Graphics: Everyday tasks

If gaming is not your thing, and you only need a new laptop for college work, emails, and watching Netflix you won’t need a laptop with a dedicated graphics card neither would you need to worry too much about what integrated graphics are inside. But, its best to find a laptop with a sizable SSD to save your school or college work and photos and videos from your crazy weekends.

In addition, ensure the laptop has at least 4 GB RAM, 8 GB would be better. With that it would able you to stream movies, send and receive emails, and run word, excel those sorts of programmes. Then if you decide to jump onto a few games, a laptop with a decent size SSD, at least 256GB, and 8GB RAM would allow you to play many games on steam, Roblox, Minecraft, games that are less demanding on the graphics.

As of September 2021, the best integrated graphics available are listed below, with Intel’s Iris Xe graphics and AMD’s RX Vega 11 integrated graphics are the best of the bunch and will run many games at 1080p.

Best Integrated Graphics

UHD Graphics 350 GHz1350 MHz 256Everyday Tasks
Intel Iris Xe Graphics300 MHz1100 MHz 768Gaming at 1080p
Intel UHD Graphics 630350 MHz1000 MHz192Everyday Tasks
AMD Radeon RX Vega 11 300 MHz1400 MHz512Gaming at 1080p
Best Integrated Graphics As Of Sept 2021

Helpful: How Many Cores You Need For Gaming? | How Much Storage You Need For Laptops?

Final thoughts…

To sum it up, integrated vs dedicated graphics.

If you have a budget without a limit and you’re interested in high fps gaming. Especially first-person shooter games, you’re best with a gaming laptop boasting a dedicated graphics card.

First, decide which CPU manufacturer you prefer, so that’s either Intel or AMD. Then, decide between an AMD graphics card or an Nvidia one. If you want top-notch fps, look no further than an RTX 30 series GPU or an AMD 6000 series graphics card. Although, expect to pay a small fortune.

Whereas if your budget is a little tighter, a gaming laptop with an RTX 20 series mid-range GPU, like an RTX 2060, 2070, or an RTX 2080. Paired with a 10th Gen Intel or an AMD 4000 series CPU would still offer superb gaming performance on the go.

So what about integrated graphics? Well, the latest integrated graphics will run most games at 1080p but expect medium to low fps. Although they would be enough for most casual gamers. Either Intel’s Xe graphics or the AMD Vega 11 integrated graphics would be best, and they would also run most other programmes.

There we have it, our guide to help you better understand the difference between dedicated vs integrated graphics. Hopefully, you have decided which laptop graphics would be best. If so, all that’s left is to decide on which Gaming Laptop Accessories you need before you go forward and conquer the online gaming world.

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Happy Laptop Gaming!

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