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Do you know the difference between iGPU, eGPU, and dGPU? Find out the answer here!

The realm of graphics cards is teeming with terminology and technologies that may befuddle users. Yet, understanding the fundamental distinctions among the primary types—iGPU, eGPU, and dGPU—is crucial for pinpointing your specific needs.

Computing is renowned for its intricate labels and abbreviations, which can often perplex even seasoned users. It's not uncommon to encounter components sharing similar traits but distinguished by different names or acronyms due to nuanced variations. This holds true in the realm of graphics cards, where terms like iGPU, eGPU, and dGPU abound. But how well do you grasp the disparities between these abbreviations?
Do you know the difference between iGPU, eGPU, and dGPU? Find out the answer here!

The most prominent differences between iGPU, eGPU and dGPU graphics card

A graphics card typically encompasses a variety of components. These encompass the printed circuit board (PCB), where the graphics processing unit (GPU) is integrated, along with VRAM (Video RAM), power phases, video connectors, and other essential elements. Frequently, "graphics card" refers specifically to the GPU itself.

What does each term mean?

A GPU is a processor that specializes in graphics processing and floating-point operations, helping to relieve the main processor (CPU) of complex and heavy tasks. The GPU performs the tasks of interactive three-dimensional applications and video games.

Now let's review the differences between iGPU, eGPU, and dGPU. These shortcuts refer to different types of GPUs, each with different properties and locations. Let's differentiate between these terms:

1. dGPU (Dedicated Graphics Processing Unit)

A discrete graphics card (dGPU) is a graphics processing unit that is separate from the CPU and has dedicated memory (VRAM) This term refers to any AMD and NVIDIA graphics card, and most recently Intel Arc. They are considered the perfect choice for users who need high graphics performance such as gamers and designers.
dGPU (Dedicated Graphics Processing Unit)

dGPU features:

  • High Performance: Provides excellent performance for modern games and design applications.
  • Dedicated memory: It has its own memory (VRAM) which enhances system performance.

Disadvantages of dGPU:

  • Higher cost: Requires a larger budget to buy them.
  • More power consumption: It consumes more power, which affects the battery life of laptops.
  • Higher heat production: You need an efficient cooling system.

2. iGPU (Integrated Graphics Processing Unit)

The Integrated Graphics Processing Unit (iGPU) is a graphics processing unit integrated directly into the Central Processing Unit (CPU) or motherboard. This card shares the main system memory (RAM), making it less efficient compared to discrete graphics cards in handling intensive graphical applications such as games or design software.

Integrated graphics within the processor package itself are also known as integrated graphics. AMD commercially brands its processors that include iGPU as Accelerated Processing Units (APUs).
iGPU (Integrated Graphics Processing Unit)

iGPU features:

  • Lower cost: It is considered an economical option because it comes integrated with the processor.
  • Energy Efficiency: Consumes less energy making it ideal for mobile devices and laptops.
  • Less heat: produces less heat, which facilitates the cooling process.

Disadvantages of iGPU:

  • Low performance: Not suitable for modern games or graphics-intensive applications.
  • Memory sharing: Shares with system memory which reduces the overall performance of the device.

3. eGPU (External Graphics Processing Unit)

An External Graphics Processing Unit (eGPU) is an independent graphics processing unit that connects to a device through an external port like Thunderbolt 3. eGPUs are employed to boost graphics performance in laptops that are equipped solely with integrated GPUs (iGPU).

The term "eGPU" typically encompasses any graphics card installed externally on either a desktop tower or a laptop. Utilizing an eGPU necessitates an external enclosure or a dedicated chassis designed to accommodate a dedicated graphics card or dGPU. Due to its external connectivity to the system as an external peripheral, it is commonly referred to as an "eGPU".
eGPU (External Graphics Processing Unit)

eGPU features:

  • Upgrade performance: Graphics performance can be upgraded in laptops without having to replace the entire device.
  • Flexibility: It can be detached when not needed, making the laptop lightweight and portable.
  • Support for games and graphics applications: Enhances the device's capabilities to run demanding games and graphics applications.

Disadvantages of eGPU:

  • Additional cost: You need to purchase an eGPU as well as a connecting cable and an external holster.
  • Connection limitations: depend on the speed and effectiveness of the communication port (Thunderbolt 3) which may affect performance.

Performance differences between GPU types

You can see that there are significant differences in performance between different types of GPUs. Here's a performance overview for each type:

iGPU:

  •  Integrated graphics cards have a very low power, and their basic design is for video output.
  •  Some models may provide the ability to run some light games and implement simple graphical settings.

eGPU:

  •  Performance varies by model, but they all offer much higher power compared to iGPU.
  •  Although used for discrete graphics cards (dGPU), performance may be slightly lower compared to graphics integrated into the computer, due to latency caused by the communication interface.

dGPU:

  •  They are considered the most powerful GPUs and always provide the best performance.
  • It connects directly to the processor through a high-bandwidth interface, greatly enhancing its performance.
  •  It features additional technologies that allow taking advantage of other system resources such as RAM and SSD storage.

More differences...

We should make it clear that there are a lot of people who refer to dGPUs as discrete GPUs, and this is wrong. In fact, if the graphics card is discrete and installed via the PCIe interface, it is considered a dGPU, while if the discrete graphics card is integrated into the CPU, it is known as an iGPU.

Generally, your choice of graphics processing unit can be tailored to meet your performance requirements and budget. A dedicated GPU (dGPU) excels in delivering high performance for demanding gaming and graphics tasks, whereas an external GPU (eGPU) can enhance laptops equipped only with integrated graphics (iGPU).

Selecting the right graphics card depends on your specific needs and usage patterns. For everyday tasks, an iGPU typically suffices. However, if you demand superior performance for gaming or professional design work, opting for a dGPU is advisable. Meanwhile, for users seeking to boost their laptop's capabilities without replacing it entirely, an eGPU presents a versatile and efficient solution.
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