Video Cards – Integrated – Dedicated
|May 9, 2011||Posted by alex under Technology|
Integrated vs Dedicated
Deciding whether to go integrated or dedicated, when shopping for video cards, is potentially the single most important factor to consider with regards to the overall performance of your PC.
Ask yourself the question “what are you looking for?”
What do you want your PC to be capable of doing. Are you just searching for a family computer, that can go on the internet and open MS Office and nothing more, or are you trying to design some mean machine to keep in your man cave for regular late night gaming?
If you’re looking for the electronic equivalent of a typewriter, then going integrated is probably the path you should take. Integrated means that the video card is a built in component of the mother board (that big piece that connects all the smaller pieces), and as such, it “borrows” all of its power from system memory and ram.
Integrated cards are not very powerful, as they have to share (or steal!) memory with the rest of the system and any applications currently running.
These cards are NOT useful if you plan on doing anything that requires heavy graphics, such as video editing, watching high definition movies or gaming of any sort. In fact most of these cards do not even support half the features needed for gaming. They really represent the bare minimum, scraping along the bottom of the video card spectrum. One can say that they exist just to say that your computer has a video card.On the plus side, the great thing about these cards is that they work right out of the box. If you are not very tech savvy and just want a computer that runs simple programs, these cards are perfectly fine.
As well, they can also act as fall back cards, should a dedicated video card on the same motherboard die, or get removed. While as backups can hardly be considered as equals to dedicated cards, at least you can still use your system while you wait for your next card to get shipped from Newegg.
Dedicated cards, on the other hand, are cards that act as separate components, which attach to your motherboard. As such, they come with their own ram and do not borrow memory from the system. This way, if you have, say, a 2 gigabyte video card, you know that you will always have up to 2 gigs of ram dedicated exclusively to graphics performance. This means that whenever you run a graphics heavy program, your system memory isn’t going to be being forced to handle two tasks at once. Dedicated cards bring dedicated performance.
Though they do have some drawbacks. The first is that they require a serious amount of power to run, which, unless you have a decent power source, you might experience some unpleasant shut downs if you make the sudden switch from integrated to dedicated. Second, these suckers generate quite a bit of hit. While pretty much every dedicated card has a built in fan (or two) nowadays, if your system isn’t properly ventilated, you can once again expect shutdowns and other problems. Third, they can cost quite a bit. Forking out up to $t00 dollars more to get a top notch dedicated card can make an affordable computer suddenly become an “I better start saving” purchase.
So before you run off and buy some ridiculous card, make sure it’s something that you will actually need.