Often referred to as a mainboard or logic board, a motherboard works as a central communication system of any computer. It’s mainly a connectivity hub between all the external peripheral ports and hardware components of a computer. Thus, it provides slots for the central processing unit (CPU), hard drives, memory, and a graphics card.
Not only this, specific processors only work with motherboards specific to their manufacturer. It means that if you’re looking into building or buying an all built-in PC, you’ll have to research the CPU to determine its complementing motherboard.
In turn, it’s only after choosing a motherboard that you can see if all your requirements of a graphics processing unit (GPU) check with those of the motherboard. And of course, this includes making sure that the power supply also meets the needs of your desired GPU.
Keep reading to find out about the different types of graphic cards and do motherboards have integrated graphics.
What is a Graphics Card?
A graphics card or a video card is technically an expansion unit that generates a series of images you see on your computer screen. Plainly put, without this piece of hardware, you’d only have a black screen.
And it accomplishes its job by first connecting to a motherboard for its power supply and data. Then, a monitor connection is needed to see the end result of an actual, viewable picture.
In reality, a graphics card looks just like a mini version of any other typical motherboard. It, too, sports a printed circuit board complete with its own graphics processor unit (GPU) and video memory (VRAM). To further simplify the matter at hand, let’s talk about the types of GPU:
As the name suggests, this kind of Onboard iGPUs have chips integrated within the computer’s system. Built directly into the motherboard, you can’t replace, remove, or upgrade them.
Integrated graphics, hence, provide you with an average performance that is enough for people with regular office and school work requirements. In effect, they are unable to support heavy-duty graphic tasks like professional video editing and serious gaming.
A dedicated GPU, on the other hand, has a discrete graphics card. This card goes into one of the motherboard’s expansions slots. You can not only replace or remove it, but you can also upgrade it as newer ones come out in the market.
And although expensive, with this kind of GPU, you can expect incredible graphics performance and visual results. It handles precise data with massive computations within the smallest of the time frames.
Do Motherboards Have Integrated Graphics?
The short answer to this question is that integrated graphics have come a long way from being just a part of a motherboard’s chipset, and they now come integrated within a comprehensive CPU system. However, it also does not mean that you’ll find every processor with integrated graphics.
For example, only those associated with the ‘G’ series have integrated graphics when you consider the AMD processors. Whereas the processors like Ryzen 5 5600X or those from a decade ago do not support the integrated graphics unit.
The story, fortunately, gets a bit different with the Intel processors. Almost all desktop CPUs feature an integrated GPU, and only the ‘F’ type CPUs lack this sophisticated system. So, if you’re using, let’s say, a corei7-9400F, then it becomes inherent that you supplement it with a dedicated GPU.
Intel was also the first to follow through with the implementation of a CPU-GPU same system technology. We have no more integrated graphics solely on the motherboard because they are costly and only offer mediocre-level graphics outputs.
How to Check if You Have Integrated (Onboard) Graphics?
There are several ways to check if you’re using a computer that runs on an integrated graphics processor or not. Below we’ve mentioned the two surest ways to tell:
Opening the Back of the Computer
The quickest way to determine is by looking at the back of your computer, and it is where all the connections are situated. Locate a cable connecting the monitor of the computer with the backplane of the motherboard. If you see one, then you’re using an integrated graphics processor.
The backplane of the motherboard usually has USB ports, audio ports, and jacks, colored green, black, pink, and blue. The jack connecting the monitor will either be a DVI composed of horizontal slots for respective pins or VGA. Found on old computers, a VGA comes with round holes arranged in two rows. If it’s a new PC, you’ll have an HDMI.
On the flip side, if you see that your monitor has connections not on the backplane itself but somewhere below it, then it must have a separate graphics card.
Going Through Software Settings
For those who are not keen on unscrewing their laptops, you’re going to have to access the Control Panel from the Windows address option. Select Hardware and Sound, and then click on the yellow and blue shield icon of Device Manager.
In the Device Manager, search for Display Adapters and click on the ‘>’ option. It will expand the graphics that are currently powering your device.
If this says Nvidia, like the GTX 660, you’re, for sure, using a dedicated graphics card. However, if it displays AMD/APU or Intel, and you know that you’ve got an AMD or Intel processor as well, it’s integrated.
Again, as for the question that do motherboards have integrated graphics, it’s scarce expansions that you’d find one that does nowadays.
Almost all motherboards support integrated graphics built in the CPU, but very few may rely on an integrated graphics processor alone. And if they do, they most probably won’t have any external ports like HDMI.
Naturally, the next question that comes to mind then is what kind of GPU do you need? Is an integrated GPU all that you require? Or your work demands a powerful graphics output system, like a dedicated GPU? We recommend you do your proper research before you end up buying one.