Do I Need Integrated Graphics?

Whether you need an integrated graphics card or not depends upon whether you plan to buy a dedicated graphics card for your PC build or not. If you plan to buy a dedicated graphics card for your PC build, then you will NOT need to have an integrated graphics on your CPU at all.

Generally for gaming builds, you do need to have an integrated graphics card on your PC since gaming builds feature a dedicated graphics card. The same goes for professional builds that focus on designing, rendering and simulation work as they often do feature a dedicated graphics card.

Hence having an integrated graphics is mostly a useless redundancy on high end builds.

PC builds that are more focused on essential day-to-day work, office work, or for casual editing work often do not feature a dedicated graphics card. For these simple builds, an integrated graphics card is a must for basic video output.

It is very important to note that the video output ports on your motherboard are powered by the integrated graphics on your CPU. As such, if your CPU lacks an iGPU, then the motherboard video output ports will simply not work.

In the following text, I will explain in detail the answer to the question “do I need integrated graphics on CPU”.

Integrated vs Dedicated Graphics Card

A bit of a primer first on what is the difference between integrated and dedicated graphics card.

An integrated graphics, or iGPU, is a graphics processing unit that is built INTO the CPU itself. It cannot be removed or replaced. 

Do I Need Integrated Graphics
CPU die chart showing iGPU built into the CPU

As a rule of thumb, integrated graphics offer very basic video and 3D rendering capability. In other words, they have a very weak performance.

On the other hand you have the dedicated graphics cards.

Dedicated graphics cards are large and a separate standalone component that plug into the PCIe slot on desktops. On laptops dedicated GPU is a separate standalone chip soldered onto the motherboard.

NVIDIA GTX 1660Ti
A mid range NVIDIA GTX 1660Ti dedicated graphics card. Source: ASUS

Dedicated graphics cards are far more powerful as compared to integrated graphics. These components are expensive but are ESSENTIAL particularly for gamers and also for professional 3D designers and editors.

PC Can Have iGPU, Dedicated GPU or Both

It is worth noting that a PC graphics processing can be found in different configurations.

  • You can have ONLY an iGPU and no dedicated graphics card
  • You can have ONLY a dedicated GPU and NO iGPU
  • You can have both

Also Read: How to Switch to Integrated Graphics?

Motherboard Video Output Ports are Powered by the Integrated Graphics

One of the most important point you need to understand is that motherboards DO NOT have on board graphics processing chip.

Hence, the video output ports that you see on the motherboards back I/O panel are powered by the integrated graphics found on the CPU itself.

CPU Case PC graphics card dedicated
Desktop with HDMI port on motherboard I/O panel and on the dedicated graphics card.

As such, if your CPU DOES NOT have an integrated graphics card, then the video output ports on the motherboard will NOT work.

Also Read: Can You Replace an Integrated Graphics Card (with a Dedicated GPU)?

Both AMD and Intel Have CPUs that Do an DO NOT Feature an iGPU

Another important point to note in this discussion is that not ALL CPUs have integrated graphics.

Read in Detail: Do All CPUs Have Integrated Graphics Card?

Intel “F” Series CPUs LACK an iGPU

There is a common misconception that all Intel CPUs feature an integrated graphics. However, that is not true. Intel CPUs with the “F” suffix do NOT feature an integrated graphics. 

Hence CPUs such as the Intel Core i5-10400F or the Intel Core i7-12700KF DO NOT feature an integrated graphics.

AMD “G” Series OFFER an iGPU 

With AMD, only the CPUs with the “G” suffix feature an integrated graphics card. These include the AMD Ryzen 7 5700G, AMD Athlon 3000G.

In other words, AMD CPUs with no suffix, with X suffix or with the XT suffix DO NOT feature an iGPU.

Does NOT Having Integrated Graphics Affect CPU Performance?

Let us look at Intel and AMD CPUs separately.

Intel CPUs With and Without iGPU Performance

With Intel, things are bit uniform in the sense that when it comes to sheer CPU performance, it is not impacted by whether the CPU feature an iGPU or not.

Take for instance, the Intel Core i7-12700K (CPU with iGPU) and its cousin Intel Core i7-12700KF (CPU WITHOUT iGPU), as far as the performance scores go, they are more or less the same.

According to Passmark, they score 34400 and 34200 respectively. In other words, they are uniform in terms of CPU performance.

The same goes for Intel Core i5 10400 vs Intel Core i5 10400F

So why does Intel have similar performing CPUs with and without iGPU?

The simple reason behind this is that the Intel CPU without the iGPU costs less than its counterpart WITH an iGPU.

  • Core i7 12700K costs $409-$419 MSRP
  • Core i7 12700KF costs $384-$394 MSRP

Hence, if you are certain that your PC build will feature a dedicated graphics card, then you can simply opt for the “F” variants and end up saving up on some cash. 

Intel CPUs With and Without iGPU Performance

With AMD, things are not quite uniform.

AMD CPUs with an iGPU have lower performance/dollar ratio as compared to the non-iGPU variant when it comes to sheer CPU performance.

Does Ryzen Have Integrated Graphics
CPU Passmark

It should be mentioned here that the iGPU found on AMD Ryzen “G” series CPUs are superior in performance to the iGPU found on Intel CPUs. So much so, that the iGPUs found on the top of the line Ryzen “G” series CPUs, such as the RX Vega 8 found on the Ryzen 7 5700G, can even be used for light gaming.

Also Read: Is Integrated Graphics Card Good Enough for Gaming?

So Do I Need Integrated Graphics on CPU?

Well, if you do not have a dedicated graphics card on your PC, then the least you will need is an integrated graphics card on your CPU to power up the video output ports on your motherboard.

In other words, if you have NO dedicated GPU and at the same time have NO integrated GPU on your PC, then you will have no video output capability on your PC.

Hence, if you are not a gamer and if you have simple office or work purpose PC that does not feature a dedicated graphics card, then yes, you do need an integrated graphics card on your PC.

On the other hand, if you do have an dedicated graphics card on your PC then you will NOT need to have a CPU with an integrated graphics card on our PC since the dedicated GPU will be the primary video processing component. Dedicated GPUs have video output ports of their own.

A Possible Build Example with AMD and Intel CPUs

For instance, if you plan to buy the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X – a high performance CPU from AMD that LACKs an iGPU, then you will most certainly need to have a dedicated graphics card for video output.

The Ryzen 7 5800X will not power the HDMI, VGA, or the DVI ports on the motherboard.

On the other hand, if you plan to buy an Intel Core i7-11700K, which is a close rival to the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X, then you will NOT need to buy a dedicated graphics card.

Intel Core i7-11700K offers an iGPU with which you can use the video output ports of your motherboard.

Also Read: How to Check What Integrated Graphics Do I Have?

Final Words

So the answer to the question “Do I Need Integrated Graphics on Your CPU” is that it depends.

If you have a dedicated graphics card, then NO you do not need to have an integrated graphics on your CPU.

If you DO NOT have a dedicated GPU and if you do not wish to invest in one, then you need to have an integrated graphics on your CPU for the video output ports to work and also for basic 3D rendering.

Also Read: GPU Hierarchy – Graphics Card Tiered Performance List

Photo of author

Author:

Atif Qazi
Atif Qazi is the founder of PCGuide101. He is a digital nomad who loves everything PC. He is a PC builder, tech enthusiast, engineer, and a lover of single player lore-rich RPG games.

Leave a Comment