Do you need a graphics card for gaming?

There is plenty of talk about graphics cards today, particularly in light of their increasing technological advancements. Every few months, you get to hear a newer and better model of these cards – but it raises the question of whether you really require one.

The answer to this question might seem tricky, because all laptops and desktops today already come with some type of in-built Graphics Processing Unit, or GPU. Without the existence of the GPU, it is impossible to see images on your desktop monitor or laptop screen. Therefore, the actual question here is not really whether you require a GPU, but whether you need a dedicated type of GPU, also referred to as a ‘graphics card’.

If this has been weighing on your mind, here is our answer to that – in the case of gaming, you will need a graphics card, especially if you are very interested in getting a high resolution in your gaming experience.

Before we begin, what is a GPU?

It is important to know what GPUs are in the first place, and what makes them important in gaming.

The short definition of GPU is a chip in your machine’s CPU, which has the sole task of converting data into images, and then you can see the images on your monitor.

Video cards are specific processing units in your computer that speed up the video and display frameworks. All PCs will include an in-built GPU, though it does have its limitations. In fact, plenty of motherboard manufacturers will include a serviceable GPU into the motherboard, with no additional hardware, although its position has shifted to the CPU instead.

The GPU therefore aims to provide a better resolution through dedicating some memory for the cache, and setting aside some catering for other components in your game.

An integrated GPU has plenty of benefits, because they are hassle-free, and you do not even need to think too hard about them. The graphics they provide are also efficient in power use, and they are standardized enough to work with almost all drivers, if not all.

What are the disadvantages of a GPU?

There are some limitations with the standard GPU though. First off, they are inherently weak in their functionality – in fact, they are actually meant to handle the needs of a desktop or laptop user that does ‘lighter tasks’: surfing the web, reading emails, writing some documents, and watching some videos. They cannot inherently handle games efficiently, and the situation is even worse when you throw modern, high-resolution games at them; the game will not load, or the GPU will stutter.

The other disadvantage is that integrated GPUs will always share system resources with the CPU – and that includes RAM. If you add a task that is heavy on graphics, like rendering 3D video games, then your system resources will suffer as a consequence.

That is where GPUs that are specialized, or dedicated GPUs, step in. As their name suggests, they are separate hardware components that are exclusively dedicated to graphics processing. They have a multitude of benefits, especially performance – and this increases their power benefits. They additionally offer a more modernized variety of video ports, compared to what your motherboard or CPU offers. In fact, while the typical CPU or motherboard can only include a DVI and VGA port, dedicated GPUs include those ports as well as duplicates of these and a HDMI port.

What are some factors to keep in mind when considering to get a graphics card for your gaming activities?

The requirements of the game

All games come with graphic codes, which enhance their virtual appearance on your monitor. The high-resolution games have greater detail, which means they will need more system requirements.

For instance, playing a high-requirement game such as GTA V will need major system requirements before getting installed and even processing the gameplay. These requirements include the GPU, which enhances the gameplay and ensures it runs smoothly over the system.

What is the resolution you require?

The depth of the field will determine the resolution you need – so higher game resolution demands that you have a greater GPU capacity.

The field depth is determined through the frame rate and pixels, as they represent the game interface. There are some games that have higher resolution such as Call of Duty which will need an iGPU to function, while others have lower requirements and can work well just through using the normal PC processor.

The cooling system already in place

A major issue with the usual GPUs is their tendency to heat up when you use them. Therefore, a high resolution game overburdens the GPU, and you notice your laptop or desktop becoming quite hot – which leads to bad consequences for the internal components.

On the other hand, using a specialized GPU for your gaming experiences will prevent your PC from heating up, because it includes its own fan, which the in-built GPU lacks. This will ensure that your hardware does not need to suffer as a result.

Dedicated memory in place

All the processes you carry out on your system will occupy some space, but games are a major culprit of space takeovers and slowing down of your system. In order to ensure smoother game play, using a specialized GPU will give some added space – this will also help the system to provide more cache space, and manage more processes at that time.

Frames per second (FPS)

FPS is among the most important factors to consider if you are thinking of getting a specialized graphics card, especially if you happen to be a professional gamer. GPUs will help you see the minutest details of the game, as well as playing at greater speeds and with more ease.

Comparison of a specialized GPU and a normal GPU

Specialized GPU
Workstation GPU
Replaced less frequently, due to emphasis on stability
Replaced more often, due to emphasis on improvements in quality
Support structure
Less support, since it mainly focuses on the GPU
Greater support, which includes examining software issues
Mainly graphics that render and support games
General usage that includes a variety of other tasks


Choosing a dedicated graphics card for your gaming will depend on the nature of your game. It is a considerable investment, and you should consider it carefully because you might not need it anyway. If you are a professional gamer though, or regularly play HD-quality games, you will need it to ensure smoother gameplay.

About William Novasco

William Novasco has been gaming ever since he was a little kid, and at 35 he aims at achieving the impossible by ensuring that gamers get the perfect experience when gaming, by utilizing the relevant hardware and software. He has managed to score wins by winning in the various gaming series, an experience that has enabled him to find loopholes that gamers interact with and consequently proceed to find solutions. The reason why he prepared the various informative articles covering different aspects of the top gaming essentials but which contribute to one whole. Apart from preparing expert reviews on the various gaming gadgets and games, William loves to research on the latest technologically advanced gadgets that can be used for gaming.

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