Gaming on an iGPU: how good is that free graphics card?

Tested: integrated graphics cards versus entry-level dedicated graphics cards

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Introduction

More and more people are gaming, but the majority of them are casual players. Those gamers make less demands on image quality and frame rates, and will not want to invest in a state of the art video card. What can you expect if you have to make do with the processor's built-in video card? Is an external entry-level model worthwhile? That's what we tell you in this article.


Although 'serious' gamers often talk amicably about integrated graphics, i.e. the graphics card that is built-in in CPUs, these iGPUs can be found in an enormous number of desktops and laptops. They are located in more PCs than all the separate video cards combined. As a young gamer without money, it is likely that you will start your gaming adventure on your parents' computer or on an old PC of an acquaintance or family. Such office buses are rarely equipped with a separate video card and often cannot be equipped with a more powerful external one due to a lack of the required PCIe slot and/or power connections. If a separate card is already present, it will seldom be a model that can conjure up imaginative 3D images on the screen.

In addition, there is a group of gamers who may have the financial means to upgrade a PC, but simply don't start up a game regularly enough to justify purchasing a graphical beast. High resolutions and frame rates are very nice, but there are plenty of people who can live with 720p or full hd with up to 30 frames per second. If you simply have other priorities, you may not do research on more powerful hardware, but you also won't invest in a 144 Hz adaptive sync gaming monitor and a video card that is at least as expensive. In addition, some people just want to have a computer that is as quiet as possible, and the many fans of a top model video card do not fit in that picture.

If a gamer like that wants more graphic processing power anyway, switching from an integrated to a separate video card in the entry segment is a more likely choice. But what is the difference in performance today between these two options? For which popular games is there added value to dedicated graphics, and for which games is it better to keep the wallet closed? We set out to research this and compared several built-in graphic chips with low-cost dedicated graphics cards.


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