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Graphics Card Vs. GPU: What’s The Difference?

Graphics Card Vs. GPU: What’s The Difference?

If you’re building a gaming PC, or just interested in computers, you have probably come across the terms “Graphics Card” and “GPU”. When I built my first PC, I was confused by these terms and it seemed like they were used interchangeably.

Below, I go over the meaning of “Graphics Card” and “GPU”, and how the two concepts are related.

Graphics Card Vs. GPU: What’s The Difference?

The graphics card is responsible for processing and rendering the image on your screen. The GPU, or graphics processing unit, is a specific component located on the graphics card. The GPU performs intense mathematical operations to transform bits of data into shapes, shadows, textures, and images.

Sometimes, GPUs can be found near the CPU on a PC’s motherboard, where they assist the CPU in processing graphics. This setup is known as integrated graphics, since the GPU is integrated with the PC’s motherboard. It is most common on laptops.

With time, GPUs have become very powerful and used for a variety of purposes, including gaming and machine learning.

Today, most gaming PC’s have discrete graphics, which means the GPU is independent from the CPU and motherboard. Instead, the GPU sits on a dedicated graphics card that attaches to the motherboard via a PCI or PCI-express slot.

Frequently, you will find several different brands making graphics cards for the same GPU. For example, you can purchase an EVGA GTX 1660, or an ASUS GTX 1660, or an MSI GTX 1660.

While all of these manufacturers’ graphics cards feature the NVIDIA GTX 1660 GPU, each graphics card has a different aesthetic and build quality decided by the card manufacturer.

Do You Need A GPU And A Graphics Card For Gaming?

You’ll need a GPU and graphics card for optimal gaming performance. The graphics card is the hardware that houses the GPU and makes images appear on your screen, while the GPU (graphics processing unit) handles all the calculations and processes needed to render those images.

GPUs almost always come mounted on graphic cards that are specifically designed for them. This is important for two reasons: first, you’ll get better performance as the two are optimized to work together. Second, it ensures compatibility.

In modern gaming PCs, your graphics card is typically installed via a PCI or PCI-express slot on your motherboard. Upgrading your PC’s graphics card is the most common way to boost performance and make your games run better.

A graphics card is an essential piece of hardware for gaming, but it’s not the only one. You’ll also need a good CPU and plenty of RAM. And don’t forget to factor in the cost of a quality monitor, too—there’s no point in having top-tier specs if you’re using an old, low-resolution monitor!

Is GPU Only For Gaming?

GPUs are not only for gaming. GPUs are essential to many modern applications, including video editing, 3D rendering, virtual reality, high performance computing, deep learning, and artificial intelligence.

You don’t need to be a gamer to put your GPU to good use. Many non-gaming applications, such as Photoshop or TensorFlow, now require a supported GPU to function well.

There’s another use of GPUs that occasionally generates some buzz: crypto mining. Miners build custom rigs with several, extremely powerful GPUs with the sole purpose of mining cryptocurrencies. In fact, manufacturers like Nvidia have released GPUs designed specifically for mining.

Do All PCs Have Graphics Cards?

Not all PCs have a standalone graphics card. On some PCs, the GPU is located on the motherboard. This is called integrated graphics, and it is especially a common setup for laptops and small devices.

When a PC completely lacks a GPU, the CPU takes over the tasks a GPU would normally do, such as rendering and animation.

If your PC is a desktop, you can usually install your own graphics card and stop relying on the PC’s integrated graphics. Keep in mind, however, that not all GPUs will work with all motherboards or CPUs.

If you do add a dedicated graphics card to your rig, make sure to also take cooling into consideration. GPUs can produce a lot of heat—especially if you overclock them—and their built-in fans are not enough to keep them cool.

What Does GTX Mean In Graphics Cards?

GTX is the branding for Nvidia’s range of GPUs. If you see a graphics card with the GTX sticker on it, you can be sure that Nvidia made the GPU incorporated in the graphics card.

GTX stands for Giga Texel Shader Extreme. “Shader” is just a fancy word for the program that tells the GPU what to do, and Texel is the name of a unit of measurement used in 3D graphics. In layperson’s terms, GTX means “really powerful shader.”

And if you’re wondering why AMD—the main competitor to Nvidia—doesn’t have a range of GPUs with a similar name, it’s because the company uses a different naming convention. AMD GPUs are branded Radeon, and the most powerful GPU in their arsenal is the RX 6900 XT.

NVIDIA and AMD are the biggest GPU manufacturers. Meanwhile, there are dozens of graphics cards manufacturers. ASUS, EVGA, and MSI are some of the largest graphics cards manufacturers.

These graphics cards manufacturers use NVIDIA or AMD GPUs in their graphics cards. For example, both ASUS and MSI make a graphics card that incorporates the GTX 1660 GPU. While these cards may look different, they use the same GPU.

I used the GTX 1660 in the first gaming PC I ever built. It’s a great entry-level graphics card for computer enthusiasts.

Is 2GB Graphics Card Enough For Gaming?

2GB is the minimum recommended dedicated video RAM for gaming, but it’s not ideal. 4GB of dedicated video RAM is the sweet spot for gaming. It will give you enough dedicated memory to run most games at high settings.

However, if you’re on a tight budget, a graphics card with 2GB of dedicated video RAM might be all you can afford. In that case, you’ll have to make some sacrifices in graphics settings. For example, you might have to play at a lower resolution or turn down some demanding features.

But if you can spare the extra cash, I recommend investing in a card with more VRAM. It will give you a better gaming experience overall.

Final Thoughts

Graphics cards are a critical component of any gaming PC. They help render the images on your screen and perform calculations that allow you to play games in real-time. While they’re not necessary for video streaming or photo editing tasks, graphics cards can still be put to good use in other applications.

If you’re looking to build a gaming PC, you need a graphics card. And if you ever stop gaming, there are plenty of other tasks for which you can use your GPU.


👋 Hey There, I'm Eric!

Since 2018, I've been making streams come true.

I like gaming, streaming and watching other people stream. I created this website to help streamers, viewers, and gamers answer questions they have regarding live streaming, gaming, and PCs. I am a Twitch affiliate and currently stream on Twitch 3 days a week. I also have a Youtube channel where I make videos about streaming. I hope you find my content helpful. Feel free to stop by one of my streams to say hi.