GPU Types: The 3 Most Influential Graphics Processors (2023)

By Tibor Moes / Updated: June 2023

GPU Types: The 3 Most Influential Graphics Processors (2023)<br />

GPU Types

Imagine trying to orchestrate a symphony, with each musician playing a different instrument to create a magnificent composition. In your computer, the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) acts like the conductor, expertly managing and coordinating all the visual data to create the beautiful digital displays we interact with every day.


A Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) is like the brain for displaying visuals on a computer. It swiftly and efficiently processes immense amounts of data, transforming it into high-quality images and videos on your screen.

Type 1 – Integrated GPUs: They are like the all-rounders in a sports team, handling both general computing tasks and graphics processing. These GPUs are built into the same chip as the CPU and are great for everyday computing and light gaming.

Type 2 – Discrete GPUs: Think of them as the superstars specializing in one position. These GPUs are separate units dedicated to handling complex visual data, making them the go-to for hardcore gaming, 3D modeling, and professional video editing.

Type 3 – Ray Tracing GPUs: These are the magicians pulling rabbits out of hats. They can simulate how light interacts with virtual objects in real-time, creating breathtakingly realistic visual effects. They’re used in advanced video games and movie special effects, bringing digital worlds to life.

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GPU Types – In-depth

Integrated GPUs

Do you remember those multi-talented students in school, the ones who not only aced their academics but also shone in sports and arts? In the world of computing, integrated GPUs fit this role. They might not be the star quarterbacks of the computer world, but they definitely know how to handle multiple tasks and wear many hats.

An integrated GPU is like a Swiss Army knife of the computer’s processing units. Instead of being a standalone unit, it shares its home with the Central Processing Unit (CPU), living on the same chip. This close proximity allows the CPU and iGPU to work together more efficiently, much like roommates sharing chores.

Now, you may wonder, what’s the advantage of this setup? Well, it’s all about balance. An integrated GPU is designed for everyday tasks like browsing the web, streaming videos, or working on office documents. For these tasks, you don’t need a powerhouse of graphic processing. Instead, you need a team player that can handle both regular computing and moderate graphic processing without breaking a sweat. Integrated GPUs are perfect for this, providing a smooth computing experience without consuming much power.

However, not all tasks are created equal. While an integrated GPU is like a reliable family sedan, good for daily commuting and grocery runs, it might struggle when asked to compete in a high-speed race. In other words, while iGPUs are perfectly capable of running less demanding games or software, they might lag behind when dealing with heavy 3D rendering or the latest AAA games.

Think about it this way: You wouldn’t expect a chef to perform a heart surgery, would you? Similarly, each type of GPU has its own strengths and is designed for specific tasks.

In conclusion, integrated GPUs are like the dependable, all-round players of a team. They may not steal the show, but their contributions are vital for everyday smooth functioning. They are the perfect choice for anyone who needs a computer for daily use, with some light gaming or photo editing on the side. After all, not everyone needs the graphics equivalent of a sports car when a reliable family car will do the job just fine.

Discrete GPUs

Remember in school, there was always that one kid who was an absolute whiz at a certain subject, be it math, sports, or art? They would put all their focus into it and their performance would always be exceptional. In the realm of computer processing, discrete GPUs are those specialists.

A discrete GPU is like the virtuoso of the computer orchestra, dedicated solely to creating stunning visual performances. It lives separately from the CPU, in its own space, which allows it to have its own dedicated memory – VRAM (Video RAM). This is like the virtuoso having their own private studio to compose masterpieces.

But why would a GPU need its own space and memory? Well, some tasks are a bit like trying to perform a rock concert in a library—they’re too intense and require too many resources to share space comfortably with other operations. High-definition video editing, complex 3D modeling, and graphically demanding video games are all examples of such tasks. They require an enormous amount of processing power and memory to run smoothly.

Discrete GPUs, with their dedicated resources, are like weightlifters built to handle these heavy tasks. They excel at crunching large volumes of graphic data, translating it into high-definition visuals at lightning speed. This means smoother, more realistic graphics, higher frame rates, and less lag in your games or graphic-intensive applications.

However, with great power comes…well, greater power consumption. Discrete GPUs are more energy-intensive than their integrated counterparts. They’re like the high-performance sports cars of the computer world—fast and powerful, but they do consume more fuel.

Also, these GPUs tend to generate more heat, requiring extra cooling mechanisms in the system. It’s a bit like needing a bigger, more powerful fan when you’re running a marathon on a hot day, as compared to a casual stroll in the park.

In conclusion, discrete GPUs are the workhorses of high-end graphics processing. They might not be the best choice for everyone—much like you wouldn’t buy a racing bike for a leisurely ride around the neighborhood. But for gamers, video editors, and 3D artists who need top-tier graphics performance, discrete GPUs are the way to go. It’s all about picking the right tool for the task at hand!

Ray Tracing GPUs

Remember how in your favorite magic shows, the magician astounds the audience with illusions so realistic they blur the lines between reality and fantasy? The Ray Tracing GPUs are the magicians of the computer world, conjuring up stunningly realistic graphics that can leave you awestruck.

Ray tracing is a technique that simulates the behavior of light in a digital environment. Imagine this as the rays of sunlight filtering through a tree’s leaves or the dazzling reflections in a crystal clear lake. To recreate this in a virtual world, ray tracing GPUs perform a neat little trick: they trace the path of light, calculating the way it interacts with virtual objects to create photorealistic shadows, reflections, and refractions.

You might ask: why is ray tracing such a big deal? Well, think about the difference between a hand-drawn sketch and a high-resolution photograph. While both can portray the same scene, the photograph captures the subtleties of light and shadow, giving it a depth and realism that a sketch struggles to match. In the same vein, ray tracing takes digital graphics to a whole new level of realism, adding a depth and subtlety that’s hard to achieve with traditional rendering techniques.

Ray tracing GPUs are like the master painters of the digital realm, capable of creating a masterpiece down to the smallest detail. This level of detail, however, requires an enormous amount of computing power, as the GPU must calculate the effect of light on every pixel of the screen. It’s like trying to compose a symphony where every single note matters.

Just like a magic show requires careful planning and preparation, so does ray tracing. It’s a resource-intensive process, demanding more from your GPU in terms of power and heat management. This is why ray tracing is usually found in higher-end GPUs, much like how you’d expect the most dazzling magic tricks in the grandest magic shows.

But oh, when it works, it’s like watching magic unfold. Be it in the latest blockbuster games or in high-end animation studios, ray tracing GPUs can transform virtual environments into breathtakingly lifelike landscapes.

In conclusion, while ray tracing GPUs might seem like they belong in the realm of hardcore gamers and professionals, they are gradually becoming more accessible as technology advances. Just as magic shows can fill us with wonder, the visuals created by these GPUs remind us of the extraordinary potential of technology to recreate the beauty of our world.


So there you have it! Just as in an orchestra, where each instrument plays its unique role to create a symphony, different types of GPUs each have their own specialties. From the all-round performers, integrated GPUs, to the specialists, discrete GPUs, and the magicians, ray tracing GPUs, each has its own role to play in the grand performance that is computer graphics. Understanding these differences helps us appreciate the magic happening inside our machines, and guides us to make informed decisions when it comes to choosing the right technology for our needs.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the most frequently asked questions.

Why would I need a discrete GPU?

If you’re into high-end gaming, video editing, or 3D modeling, a discrete GPU is a great choice. Its dedicated resources and high processing power can handle complex visual tasks and deliver a smoother, more immersive visual experience.

Can an integrated GPU handle gaming?

Yes, integrated GPUs can handle gaming, but it depends on the game’s requirements. For casual or older games, an integrated GPU can perform quite well. However, for newer, more graphically demanding games, a discrete GPU or a ray tracing GPU may provide a better gaming experience.

Are ray tracing GPUs only for professional use?

Not necessarily. While ray tracing GPUs are indeed used in professional contexts like movie and animation production, they are also increasingly being used in high-end gaming. As technology advances and becomes more accessible, more and more games are incorporating ray tracing for a more immersive and realistic gaming experience.

Author: Tibor Moes

Author: Tibor Moes

Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab

Tibor is a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur. He has tested security software since 2014.

Over the years, he has tested most of the best antivirus software for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, as well as many VPN providers.

He uses Norton to protect his devices, CyberGhost for his privacy, and Dashlane for his passwords.

This website is hosted on a Digital Ocean server via Cloudways and is built with DIVI on WordPress.

You can find him on LinkedIn or contact him here.

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