Gaming is getting more and more expensive these days, especially if you care too much about graphics. Nvidia marking up the price for their RTX 4000 series also didn’t help matters. What can help is finding out whether an integrated GPU is good enough for video games, or not. These are mini-GPUs built into the CPU, intended for computers with no dedicated or discreet graphics cards from Nvidia or AMD Radeon.
So, are they good enough? The short answer is yes. But that’s a very conditional affirmation. Some video games are simply too graphics-intensive that they likely won’t work on an integrated GPU.
On the off chance that they do work, gameplay could be sluggish or borderline unplayable due to low framerates; or the visuals could be unsatisfying that they don’t represent the developers’ and artists’ vision when they created the game.
So the longer answer is, it depends on the game. As a rule of thumb, don’t expect any big-budget triple-A studio game released post-2018 to have a chance on your integrated GPU. But for light games such as most eSports titles, then you might get away with it.
Also, just as how there are many different kinds of discreet GPUs, there are also different variants of an integrated GPU. Some are older or newer than others and some are better suited for gaming.
Determining which is which might just be the key to ultra-low-budget gaming and monetary savings.
Which Integrated GPU is the Best?
Since an integrated GPU is soldered into the CPU die, then you’ve no choice but to get the CPU bundled with it. To that end, the best integrated GPU right now is the aptly named AMD Radeon Graphics, which is an upgraded Radeon Vega chip.
These are typically bundled with Ryzen 5000 series processors with a “G” in their names such as the AMD Ryzen 3 5300G, the Ryzen 5 5600G, or the Ryzen 7 5700G.
The AMD Radeon Graphics integrated alongside these aforementioned CPUs yield some rather impressive performance for an ultra-low budget option.
It’s considered “ultra-low” since a lot of gaming budget tiers typically include a discreet GPU in their cost. Since you’re skipping the discreet GPU, then gaming on an integrated GPU is below entry-level.
But even then, the typical benchmark for AMD Radeon Graphics looks convincing enough for people who don’t mind recent graphically-heavy games running on 720p or the lowest settings. Lighter games will run at 1080p with increased graphical fidelity, of course.
But don’t expect the framerate to be smooth or eSports-worthy.
To put things into perspective, a Ryzen 5 5600G with Radeon Graphics will be able to run Grand Theft Auto 5 in 1080p High-settings at around 40-50 FPS (frames-per-second). Meanwhile, a heavier game like Red Dead Redemption 2 will only run at around 20 FPS even on 1080p Low-settings.
For gameplay to be considered smooth, it has to be around 50-60+ FPS. For gameplay to be considered acceptable, the framerate has to be at least 30+ FPS. Anything below that will affect your gaming skills or frustrate you.
However, there are outliers such as games like Control which the Ryzen 5 5600G can run at 50+ FPS on 1080 Low-settings. Again it depends on the game, so you will want to watch some benchmarks on YouTube about your integrated GPU to get an idea if it can run a specific game.
So the bottom line, you can play certain games well enough on integrated GPU, but it will have to be one from a Ryzen 5000-series processor. If you’re tight on budget or can’t afford a GPU, but still want to play video games, these three processors will serve you well:
- AMD Ryzen 3 5300G
- AMD Ryzen 5 5600G
- AMD Ryzen 7 5700G
Don’t forget the “G” label, because that stands for Radeon Graphics.
The ones without “G” such as Ryzen 5 5600X or just 5600, for example, don’t have integrated GPU and will require you to purchase an Nvidia or AMD Radeon GPU, which is getting more and more expensive every generation.
There are also processors or CPUs with the letter “U” or “H” in their name, but these are typically found in laptops. They also come with Radeon Graphics.
What About Intel’s Options?
They’re not as good as AMD’s Radeon Graphics. Don’t even bother with them if you’re skipping the discreet GPU and only want to game on an integrated GPU.
The best Intel has to offer for the integrated GPU category is the Intel UHD Graphics 770 and it’s significantly or considerably behind in AMD’s Radeon Graphics (Ryzen 5 5600G).
When compared in side-by-side benchmark videos, the framerate for the Radeon Graphics in some games is more than double what the Intel UHD Graphics 770 can yield.
That’s bad news if you’ve already bought an Intel setup, but do note that you can still play video games with the UHD 770, just with more limited options (usually pre-2014 games, for example).
Hence, if you’re just building or buying an integrated GPU gaming machine, then the best option is to go for AMD. They have better integrated GPUs compared to Intel.
How Much Do You Save with Integrated GPU Gaming?
Why would anyone subject their memories to the grating and torturous experience of gaming on an integrated GPU? Well, apart from financial reasons (which is understandable), some people just don’t want to spend too much on graphics.
You can actually save a lot by opting to game on just the integrated GPU. That’s because the discreet GPU from either Nvidia or AMD Radeon usually makes up half or a third of the budget allotted for a gaming PC.
A whole mid-range gaming PC, for example, costs around $1,100. Meanwhile, a mid-range GPU can easily cost around $400-$500 depending on where you live. And because discreet GPUs are power-hungry, you’ll end up spending more on the power supply unit and the cooling.
Not to mention discreet GPUs are also typically the most power-hungry component in a gaming PC.
The typical mid-range GPU these days consume anywhere from 160 to 200 watts while gaming. Since you’re usually playing for hours on end, you can imagine just how much that adds up to your electricity bill.
Since the integrated GPU is well, integrated into the CPU or processor, it consumes a lot less compared to a discreet GPU. Most mid-range stock CPUs these days consume no more than 65 to 80 watts of electricity, and that’s with the integrated GPU running at full load. That’s a substantial amount of energy savings and a lot less heat produced by the computer.
To get the most out of that small power consumption, you’ll want the best integrated GPU available at the time of writing.
What About Older Processors?
If you’re stuck with the Ryzen 3000-series and its older Vega 11 integrated GPU, for example, then you’ll be pleased to know that that is still decent enough.
In fact, AMD has been making leaps and bounds in its integrated GPU performance since the Ryzen 2000-series processors.
This way, their customers aren’t forced to purchase discreet GPUs just to play light video games. They keep their budget customers in mind more dearly than Intel does, as is evident with this kind of pro-consumer practice.
Meanwhile, older Intel UHD integrated GPUs are, as you can expect, a lot less capable than either the UHD 770 or the Radeon Graphics. With UHD 630 or below, you’re severely limited with your options– we’re talking about pre-2010 video games only, mostly.
Integrated GPU Gaming, Brought to You by AMD
So thanks to AMD, you can actually play video games on your integrated GPU, provided the integrated GPU is Radeon Graphics from a Ryzen 2000-series or newer CPU. The newer the better, of course.
But before you get a little too excited or giddy, just make sure to check how your specific “G” model CPU or integrated CPU will handle a specific game.
There are plenty of benchmark videos on YouTube. Just include your integrated GPU name, the game’s name, and the word benchmark in the search bar so you can get an idea of just how powerful your integrated GPU can be; you might get surprised in some titles.