Graphics Card Vs GPU – Are Both Same?

If you are a gamer or have an interest in gaming then you must have heard two words together ” GPU and Graphics Card”. More often, you would be thinking that these two names are of hardware, No!

Graphics cards and GPU are two different things or devices. It is a misconnection that many newbies think they are the same. In this article, I will elaborate on how a graphics card differs from a GPU.

GPU may stand for Graphics Processing Unit, but that doesn’t mean it does all the graphics work by itself. In fact, the GPU is just one of the many parts that make up a computer’s graphics card. The graphics card also includes the graphics processing unit, random access memory (RAM), and a control chip. Together, these components work to create images on your screen.

So let’s discuss it in further detail.

GPU (Graphics Processing Unit)

A Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) is a single chipset that is made to render only images and all kinds of visuals. In fact, a graphics card can not work without the presence of a GPU. Nvidia was the company that introduced this chipset in 1999.

Today we have a lot of computing devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops, and gaming stations that use the GPU in their system.

The working principle of GPU is somewhat similar to CPU. CU (Control Unit) and ALU (Arithmetic Logic Unit) are the architectures that come with GPU and CPU.

But the number of ALUs in a GPU is higher compared to a CPU. A GPU also has its own cache memory.

A graphics processing unit might contain 50–100 ALUs, whereas a typical central processing unit has only four ALUs. Due to this massive difference in the number of ALUs, a GPU can process a large number of instructions at once.

This parallel structure is more efficient than the sequential structure of a CPU. That’s why GPUs are more effective for handling complex graphics algorithms.

Graphics Card

A Graphics card is a PCB that contains a GPU chip and other things like transistors, capacitors, and diodes. A graphics card plugs into an expansion slot on the computer’s motherboard.

The GPU on a graphics card can be one of two types: integrated or dedicated. An integrated GPU is embedded with the processor, whereas a dedicated GPU is a stand-alone chipset on the graphics card. Most high-end graphics cards use a dedicated GPU, which provides better performance than an integrated GPU.

Graphics cards come with their own RAM, which is used to store the image data that the GPU needs to process. The RAM of a graphics card can range from 32 MB to 32 GB.

The control chip on a graphics card manages communications between the GPU and the computer. It also manages the data transfer between the GPU and the graphics card’s RAM.

Most graphics cards also come with their own cooling system, which is necessary to prevent the GPU from overheating.

How Does Graphics Card Work?

The working principle of a GPU is just like the working principle of a CPU. However, while a CPU is designed to handle all sorts of computations, a GPU is specifically tailored for handling graphics operations and nothing else. This results in GPUs being much more efficient at processing large amounts of graphical data than CPUs are.

One of the most important things to understand about GPUs is that they are highly parallel devices. This means that they can perform many operations simultaneously, which enables them to process large amounts of data very quickly.

In order to take advantage of this parallel processing power, graphics programs are typically written in a way that allows them to be executed on multiple GPUs at the same time.

Are Graphics Cards Necessary for Gaming?

Graphical intensive games like Call of Duty, Witcher 3, and Forza Horizon 4 are some of the most popular games out there. They all require a graphics card in order to run properly. A graphics card is a device that renders the gaming graphics.

Today the technology of graphics cards has become so advanced that there are plenty of features that are AI-based and can help to improve image quality. However, the main function of a graphics card is to process and render 3D images.

Nvidia is offering technologies like ray tracing and AI-based supersampling to help improve image quality. However, these features come at a cost and you will need a very powerful graphics card if you want to take advantage of them.

Not all games are as demanding as games like CoD. Some games can run perfectly fine on integrated graphics which is also called a built-in processor’s graphics card. So, do you need a graphics card for playing games? It depends on the game that you want to play and what is your budget as well.

Can I Use GPU Instead of Graphics Card or Vice Versa?

Yes, a GPU can be used in place of a graphics card, and vice versa.

Both GPUs and graphics cards are used to process and render images. However, GPUs are much more efficient at handling graphics operations than CPUs are. For this reason, most high-end graphics cards use a dedicated GPU.

If you are looking to purchase a new graphics card, you should look for one that has a powerful GPU. Conversely, if you are looking to purchase a new CPU, you should look for one that has a powerful graphics card.

Umair Sajjad
Umair Sajjad is an Electrical Engineer. He is also a passionate gamer. He loves to write about tech and gaming. He has graduated from Superior University with Electrical Engineering Degree. He is writing about tech since 2015.