What Are Discrete Graphics?


Discrete graphics refers to a type of graphics used in computing. Whether you are building a gaming PC or trying to figure out which type of graphics you need for design purposes, this article will help you decide whether the discrete type is the best fit. Read on below to find out more about discrete graphics and what to look for when considering a purchase. 

What Is the Purpose of Discrete Graphics?

Discrete graphics are a GPU that is there to render clear on-screen visuals. This graphics processing unit could power multiple formats, for example, a video game, a media file, or a creative project run through a CAD design or GIS software. Discrete graphics, unlike the alternate integrated graphics card, is a separate entity with its own VRAM (memory) and cooling system in place. This usually means that they are the better, more powerful option than standard graphics chips on a motherboard. 

GPU vs. Graphics Card

To clear up the common misconception, a GPU and a graphics card are not the same things. Though the terms are used interchangeably in a number of contexts, a GPU is also known as a graphics processing unit and is a port of sorts when the graphics card is plugged into. There is a knowledgeable information section from Intel® Arc™ linked here to help readers understand the definitions in more detail.

The Alternate Integrated Graphics Card

The alternative is something called an integrated graphics card, which is something pre-installed on a PC or, more commonly, a laptop. Unlike discrete graphics, this version runs off the integrated CPU and shares memory with the PC. So, it can be slower and of lesser quality. 

What to Look For

If you are looking to buy a discrete graphics card, there are a few points to consider first. 

The Purpose

The first question to ask yourself is why you are buying the discrete card in the first place. If you have a highly demanding and graphics centric profession, this is the option for you. Similarly, if you are a passionate gamer with multiple campaigns running, you’re in the right place. 

The Price

Expect decent discrete graphics to cost around $200. To cut costs here, there are lots of credible second-hand options on the online market, but this is not something that you should buy cheaply when brand new. The high price tag does reflect high quality, and if maintained properly, the card should last for multiple years. 

The Memory

VRAM as noted above is a dedicated memory system for discrete graphic chips. Standing for Video Random Access Memory, this term refers to the memory used to display and store image and graphics data for the purpose of digital display. For example, for gaming purposes, the recommended amount is 12GB, as this will be capable of handling the new games as well as the old ones.  

Discrete graphics are great if multimedia files have a heavy presence in your daily device time. If for professional purposes, it’s always preferable to have the most supportive option, and similarly to support a hobby or recreational activity too.

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