Do You Really Need a Dedicated GPU in 2024?

There are special conditions where a dedicated GPU becomes important but it's not necessary for everyone.

By GamesRecon

In 2024, the graphics card market is buzzing more than ever, thanks to the latest offerings from giants like Nvidia and AMD. It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement around the newest dedicated GPUs, and you might be led to believe that owning one is essential for just about any PC user. But is that really the case?

In this guide, we’ll talk about graphics cards—both integrated and dedicated—and unravel the scenarios where each makes the most sense. Whether you’re a hardcore gamer, a professional video editor, or someone who primarily uses their computer for browsing and streaming, your needs for graphic processing power can vary dramatically. Our goal here is to break down the hype and provide a clear perspective on whether a dedicated GPU is a necessity for you right now. Let’s explore the different ways we use our computers today and determine what level of graphical fidelity you truly need for your specific activities.

You Don’t Need to Buy a Dedicated GPU For:

Basic Computing Needs

Person using a laptop in the outdoor place.

Let’s start with the basics—everyday use of our PC or laptop. This is probably where most of us spend a good chunk of our time on our computers, whether it’s for work or leisure. Think about what you do most days: typing up documents, browsing through your favorite websites, streaming a video, or having an online meeting or video call. These tasks might sound simple because, well, they are—at least in terms of what they demand from your PC’s graphics capabilities.

If this describes your daily computer usage, here’s some good news: You’re unlikely to benefit much from spending your money on a dedicated GPU. Why? Because the integrated graphics that come with most modern CPUs are more than capable of handling these basic tasks. Whether it’s Intel’s Iris Xe or AMD’s Vega graphics, these integrated solutions have come a long way in providing adequate power for everyday computing work without breaking a sweat.

For instance, if you’re considering a new laptop or desktop and your activities are mostly confined to the ones we just talked about, you could skip the dedicated graphics card. Instead, it might be wiser to opt for upgrades that directly impact your daily experience—like more RAM for smoother multitasking or a larger SSD for faster storage, or look for a good display instead of processing power. Not only does this save you money, but it also means you’re not carrying around or powering extra hardware you don’t actually need.

Average Gaming

Whether you’re a casual player who enjoys games over coffee breaks or someone who likes pushing pixels in the latest blockbuster titles, your gaming habits significantly dictate the kind of GPU you need.

Gamer playing Minecraft on PC

Casual Gaming

Casual gaming isn’t about pushing ultra settings in the latest games. It’s about enjoyment and relaxation, perhaps with games like Minecraft, Fortnite, or Stardew Valley. These games don’t demand high-end graphics performance, which means modern integrated GPUs can handle them pretty well. With improvements in GPU architecture, even integrated options like Intel Iris Xe or AMD Vega can offer a smooth gaming experience in these less demanding titles. Moreover, if you ensure your system has enough RAM (16GB is great but 8GB can work too), it’s icing on the cake and you’re all set for some serious fun without needing a pricey dedicated card.

Playing Games at 1080p

What if you want to dip your toes into something a bit more intense, like AAA titles, but are okay with not having all the graphical settings maxed out? You can even enjoy modern intensive titles by tweaking the settings at 1080p graphics. This is where you start considering the capabilities of the latest accelerated processing units (APUs), which blend CPU and GPU on a single chip. Take, for instance, the Ryzen 7 5800U with its RDNA3 built-in graphics, or for mid-range, there is a decent Ryzen 5 5600H—these are designed to deliver decent performance even in more demanding games like GTA V and PUBG PC at 1080p, hitting the 60 FPS mark on medium settings.

However, while APUs are great for gamers on a budget, they do have their limits. For games like Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, or Elden Ring, pushing for 50-60 frame rates can be a stretch unless you’re willing to compromise further on settings or resolution. Here, your experience might benefit slightly from a budget-dedicated card, which can provide that extra oomph needed for smoother performance in more visually demanding scenes.

Get a Dedicated GPU for Heavy Gaming and Professional Graphics Work

If you’re in either of these categories, skimping on a GPU could seriously hold you back. Let’s break down why.

High-End Gaming

High-end Gaming PC with setup

For those who live and breathe gaming or are competitive players, particularly in its most graphically demanding forms, having a dedicated GPU isn’t only nice to have—it’s essential. We’re talking about playing the latest games like The Witcher 4, Baldur’s Gate 3, Dragon’s Dogma 2, or Starfield at high settings, where every shadow and texture contributes to the overall experience. Here, the goal is achieving the sweet, smooth frame rates of 60 or more, without compromising on visual fidelity.

Dedicated GPUs, especially those from the mid to high-end spectrum, are designed to handle these high-end PC games. Even cheap GPUs are significantly more capable in this arena than the most advanced APUs. They not only deliver enough raw power; they also come with technologies specifically aimed at leveling up your gaming sessions, such as ray tracing and AI-driven capabilities like DLSS. If gaming is more than just a casual pastime for you, a dedicated graphics card will ensure you’re truly getting the depth and detail that today’s games offer.

Professional Graphics and Video Editing

Video editing on the screen in software

Moving beyond gaming, dedicated GPUs are also a great necessity for professionals in graphics-intensive fields such as video editing, graphic design, and other creative arts. Applications like Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator, or even DaVinci Resolve, thrive on the extra horsepower that dedicated cards provide.

For instance, rendering video effects or compiling high-resolution visuals can be painstakingly slow on integrated graphics. A robust GPU with at least 4GB of VRAM or 6GB for 4k can dramatically cut down these processing times, improving not just performance but also your workflow efficiency. This means you don’t have to look here and there and wait for visuals to render in a while and have more time to implement your creative mind concepts into the arts.

3D Modeling and Animation

3D Animation Work on Blender

If your work involves 3D modeling, animation, or working with VFX, the scenario demands even more from your hardware. Applications such as Autodesk Maya, CAD, Blender, or SolidWorks are notorious for their heavy demands on system resources, particularly the graphics card. These tasks involve complex calculations that only a powerful GPU can handle efficiently, including real-time rendering and texturing. For professionals in these fields, investing in a premium GPU like the Nvidia Geforce RTX 3070/3080 or even RTX 4080 Super can make a difference between two worlds. Not only does it enable smooth buttery previews and faster rendering times, but it also supports more detailed scenes and higher-quality textures without compromising performance.

Advanced Computing: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Especially when your work or interests border on the cutting-edge computing fields, the role of a dedicated GPU becomes far more important. Here is why a specific graphics card is not just nice but a must-have for working in the field of artificial intelligence or machine learning.

Artificial Intelligence Artwork

Importance of GPUs in AI and Machine Learning

It is important to know that work involving AI and machine learning deal with very huge datasets and complex mathematical computations that are supposed to be executed very quickly. These are the exact tasks in which the GPU will give the best performance because of parallel capabilities. Unlike processors, which can process a few activities at the same time, GPUs can manage thousands. This makes them very effective for the matrix operations and deep learning algorithms basic to AI research and application development.

Recommended GPUs for AI Work

Regarding the graphics cards for these advanced technology areas, Nvidia often leads the pack, especially with its CUDA technology, which is optimized for enhancing machine learning performance. For example, models like RTX 4070 Ti and RTX 4090 are almost a darling to the AI community. Apart from the powerful strengths, these GPUs also come with specialized cores that speed up AI processes—things like training and inference.

In professional uses, especially, where tasks relating to artificial intelligence are increasing at a fast clip, GPUs such as the Nvidia RTX A4000 offer a new level of performance. These are expert graphics models designed to execute high-level AI operations, thereby ensuring that you will be equipped with the power necessary to get the job done expediently in all your work, be it neural network training or complex simulations.

These powerful GPUs can change how one will be able to approach any AI and machine learning task. This is simply going to change with the right GPU, where training deep learning models over massive datasets shall no longer take days but shift to just hours. This not only shortens the experimental cycle but gives room for greater complexity like experimentation and innovation. Whether you are a researcher, developer, or learner who is passionate about AI, dedicated graphics cards are very beneficial.

Bottom Line

While the need for a dedicated GPU in 2024 isn’t a must, understanding your specific gaming needs and the demands of your software and tasks can help guide your decision. Integrated GPUs have come a long way and serve many users well, but for high-end gaming, professional creative work, and advanced computing tasks, investing in a dedicated GPU is crucial to achieving what you should be expecting from your PC. Whether or not you choose to go with a dedicated card, make sure your decision aligns with both your current needs and future ambitions.