A dedicated graphics card is one of the heftiest investment that you can make for your PC if you are building one. If you are buying a laptop, a dedicated graphics card can add to its overall cost.
Hence, if you are not a gamer then it is logical to ask if you truly need an expensive graphics cards.
The short and simple answer to this question is Yes! you do need a graphics card even if you are not a gamer. Why? because all PCs need a graphics card in order to DISPLAY stuff on the monitor screen.
Without a graphics card, you would not be able to see anything displayed on your monitor.
The real question is whether an integrated graphics card would suffice or if you need to go for the expensive dedicated graphics card.
Unfortunately, there is a misconception regarding graphics cards being relevant only for gaming. A good dedicated graphics card is not just an important component for gamers, but also for designers, editors and design engineers.
But before we look further into the question “Does your PC need a graphics card if its not for gaming”, there is a very important technical detail that needs to be addressed and that is the difference between an Integrated vs a Dedicated graphics card.
In the following text we explore this question in detail and also address plenty of misconceptions regarding graphics cards.
Read in Detail: Do You Need a Graphics Card for Video Editing?
Integrated vs Dedicated Graphics Card
Often people confuse the two. The fact of the matter is that ALL PCs have a graphics card. The difference is in whether they have an integrated graphics card or a dedicated graphics card.
ALL PCs Need a Graphics Card In Order to Display Stuff on the Monitor Screen. The Question is Whether You Need a Low Key Integrated or a Powerful Dedicated Graphics Card.
Integrated Graphics Cards (iGPU)
An integrated graphics card is a graphics card that comes coupled with the processor. It is not a separate component.
These are often ideal of economical/budget systems or for systems that do not have a robust graphic rendering requirement.
iGPU are much weaker in comparison to the mid range or high end dedicated graphics card.
They are not suitable for gaming and can only be used for casual editing work.
Also Read: Is Integrated Graphics Card Good?
Dedicated Graphics Card (aka Discrete Graphics Cards)
These are a standalone component that plug into the PCIe slots of your PC.
They are often large and depending upon how powerful the dedicated graphics card is, they can get quite expensive.
AAA gaming and professional use of design and editing software require powerful dedicated graphics cards.
Also Read: Where is the Graphics Card Located?
So Does Your PC Need a Graphics Card If its Not for Gaming?
If you are talking about a dedicated graphics card, then NO, you DO NOT need a DEDICATED graphics card if your PC is not for gaming.
However, you DO need to have an INTEGRATED graphics card as a bare minimum on your CPU.
Again, integrated graphics card are coupled with the CPU.
BEWARE: Not ALL CPUs Have an Integrated Graphics
As mentioned earlier, you need to have an integrated graphics card as a bare minimum for your PC in order for your monitor to display stuff.
Therefore, if you are opting not to invest in a dedicated graphics card for your PC, then you MUST invest in a CPU that does offer an iGPU.
This is particularly important if you are building your OWN PC.
Intel CPU With “F” Suffix Lack an Integrated Graphics Card
All Intel CPUs with “F” Suffix do not feature an integrated graphics card. Examples include, Intel Core i5-10600KF, Intel Core i7-11700F.
If you happen to have an “F” series Intel CPU, then you will have to get a dedicated graphics card in order to add monitor support to your PC.
Only AMD CPU with “G” Suffix Have an iGPU
As far as AMD goes, the opposite is the case. Here only a select few CPUs with the “G” suffix have the iGPU.
These include AMD Ryzen 3 3200G, AMD Ryzen 5 5600G etc.
Hence if you need to add monitor display support to your PC without investing in a dedicated GPU for an AMD build, then you must get a CPU with the ‘G’ Suffix.
Also Read: Does Ryzen Have Integrated Graphics?
How to Know if Your CPU Has an Integrated Graphics Card
The easiest way to check if your CPU has an integrated graphics card or not is to look it up online.
A simple search for it should reveal its overall specs including whether it has an iGPU or not.
For instance, in the above specs for Intel Core i7-12700K you can see that it offers a dedicated Intel UHD Graphics 770 iGPU.
Also Read: How to Disable Integrated Graphics Card?
Do Motherboards Have Onboard Graphics?
No, motherboard’s do not have onboard graphics. There was a time when they use to, but no more.
All the video output ports that you find located on the back I/O panel of your motherboard are powered by the iGPU found on the CPU.
Let me say this again (because it is important) If your CPU does not have an iGPU, the back I/O ports on your motherboard will not work!
We have an in-depth article on this: Do Motherboards Have Integrated Graphics?
The Motherboard Must Have a Video Output Port TOO
Having an integrated graphics is just one part of the equation. Your motherboard must also have a video output port like a DVI, VGA, HDMI, DP port etc in order to connect your monitor to.
If your CPU does have an iGPU BUT your motherboard lacks a video output port then unfortunately, you will need still to invest on a dedicated graphics card.
Not all Integrated Graphics Cards are Made Equally
We have already established that all PCs need an iGPU in order to display video.
iGPUs are considered an affordable way to enable graphics processing capability for your PC.
They are regarded as inferior to dedicated GPU. However, it should be noted that not ALL iGPUs are created equally.
So much so that some of the newer iGPUs can give some of the entry-level dedicated GPUs a run for their money. Thus making certain iGPUs suitable not just for light gaming but also for using professional editing and designing software.
We have a dedicated build guide for this:
The following chart shows how some of the integrated GPUs stack up in comparison to the dedicated graphics cards.
G3D Mark Scores
|Intel UHD 630||1395||As found on 8-10th Gen
|Intel UHD 750||1684||As found on 11th Gen+
|1071||AMD 2000 Series APU|
|1274||AMD 2000 Series APU|
|1704||AMD 2000 Series APU|
|Intel UHD 770||1928||As Found on 12th Gen Intel CPUs.|
|Intel Iris Pro 580||2044||Found on premium laptops.|
|2139||AMD 2000 Series APU|
|AMD Ryzen 5
Vega 7 Graphics
|2639||Integrated as found on the Ryzen 5600G|
|AMD Ryzen 7
Vega 8 Graphics
|2708||Integrated as found on the Ryzen 5700G|
In this chart you can see that a good integrated GPU can potentially save yourself from investing on an entry level dedicated graphics card.
Of course, even the best iGPUs come nowhere close to top of the line dedicated graphics card. NVIDIA RTX 3080Ti, for instance, has a G3D Mark score of a whopping 26,639!
Do You Need a Graphics Card For Your LAPTOP if You Are Not a Gamer?
The same concept applies here for getting a laptop. A dedicated graphics card can add to the overall cost of the laptop.
Hence if you are neither a gamer nor a professional graphic designed or an editor, then you do not need a powerful dedicated graphics card.
The iGPU found on the laptop CPU should be sufficient enough for you.
Also Read: What CPU is Compatible With My Motherboard?
So the question does your PC need a graphics if its not for gaming should be rephrased as do you need an iGPU or a dedicated GPU.
This is because all PCs require some sort of GPU for graphics processing and for enabling video output support to your monitor screen.
So if you are not a gamer, you can make do without a dedicated GPU that tend to expensive standalone components. However, you must make sure that your CPU does have an iGPU particularly if you are building a PC yourself.
If the PC in question is a laptop, then you can just go for a laptop that lacks a dedicated GPU altogether. A laptop lacking a dedicated GPU would certainly have a CPU with an iGPU for video processing.