Graphics cards are a crucial component of any computer system, responsible for rendering images and videos on your screen. In this article, we will delve into the differences between integrated and discrete graphics cards, two types of graphics processing units (GPUs) that you might encounter when purchasing or upgrading a computer.
Integrated graphics cards are built directly into the motherboard or processor of a computer and use a portion of the system RAM. They are typically found in entry-level or budget computers and are suitable for basic tasks. Discrete graphics cards, on the other hand, are separate hardware units with their own dedicated memory. They provide superior performance and are capable of handling intensive tasks.
What are Integrated Graphics Cards?
Integrated graphics cards, also known as onboard graphics, are built directly into the motherboard or the processor of a computer. They use a portion of the computer’s system RAM instead of having their own dedicated memory.
lspci -v | grep -i "VGA"
The above command can be used in Linux systems to identify the type of graphics card in use. The
lspci command lists all the PCI devices,
-v gives verbose output, and
grep -i "VGA" filters the output for VGA compatible devices.
Integrated graphics are typically found in entry-level or budget computers, as they are less powerful and cheaper to manufacture. However, they consume less power and generate less heat, making them energy-efficient and ideal for basic tasks such as web browsing, document editing, and casual gaming.
What are Discrete Graphics Cards?
Discrete graphics cards, also known as dedicated graphics, are separate hardware units that are installed into a computer’s expansion slot. Unlike integrated graphics, discrete graphics have their own dedicated memory, known as video RAM (VRAM).
lspci -v | grep -i "3D controller"
The above command can be used to identify a discrete graphics card in a Linux system. The “3D controller” keyword is used to filter the output for discrete graphics cards.
Discrete graphics cards provide superior performance and are capable of handling intensive tasks such as 3D rendering, video editing, and running high-end video games. However, they consume more power and generate more heat.
Compatibility with Ubuntu
The open-source drivers for integrated graphics of Intel and AMD CPUs with built-in integrated graphics are installed by default in all currently supported versions of Ubuntu. However, some AMD Ryzen processors do not have integrated graphics, so an additional discrete graphics processor device is required to run Ubuntu on those CPUs.
ubuntu-drivers command lists all the devices that need drivers, and
devices lists the model and driver of the graphics card. This can be useful to identify the recommended proprietary discrete graphics drivers for Ubuntu.
Hybrid graphics software allows for switching between integrated and discrete graphics based on the processing power required by running applications. The right hybrid graphics software to install in Ubuntu depends on the compatibility with your computer’s hardware.
In conclusion, the choice between integrated and discrete graphics depends on your computing needs. Integrated graphics are energy-efficient and suitable for basic tasks, while discrete graphics offer superior performance for intensive tasks. Understanding the difference can help you make an informed decision when purchasing or upgrading a computer.
Integrated graphics cards are typically more energy-efficient and generate less heat compared to discrete graphics cards. They are also cheaper to manufacture, making them a common choice for entry-level or budget computers.
Discrete graphics cards offer superior performance compared to integrated graphics cards. They have their own dedicated memory, allowing them to handle intensive tasks such as 3D rendering, video editing, and running high-end video games.
In most cases, it is possible to upgrade from an integrated graphics card to a discrete graphics card. However, it depends on the specific computer model and whether it has an available expansion slot for installing a discrete graphics card.
In Linux systems, you can use the
lspci -v | grep -i "VGA" command to identify integrated graphics cards and the
lspci -v | grep -i "3D controller" command to identify discrete graphics cards. These commands will filter the output and display the relevant information.
Some computers support hybrid graphics, which allow for switching between integrated and discrete graphics based on the processing power required by running applications. However, not all computers have this capability, so it is important to check the compatibility with your specific hardware.
For integrated graphics of Intel and AMD CPUs with built-in integrated graphics, the open-source drivers are installed by default in Ubuntu. However, for some discrete graphics cards, it may be necessary to install additional proprietary drivers. You can use the
ubuntu-drivers devices command to identify the recommended proprietary drivers for your graphics card.