What Is a GPU? A Basic Definition

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Pascal GPUNvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Pascal GPU

GPU stands for graphics processing unit. You’ll also see GPUs commonly referred to as graphics cards or video cards. Every PC uses a GPU to renders images, video and 2D or 3D animations for display. A GPU performs quick math calculations and frees up the CPU to do other things. Whereas a CPU uses a few cores focused on sequential serial processing, a GPU has thousands of smaller cores made for multi-tasking.

There are two different types of GPUs:

  • Integrated GPUs are located on a PC’s CPU and share memory with the CPU’s processor.
  • Discrete GPUs live on their own card and have their own video memory (VRAM), so that the PC doesn’t have to use its RAM for graphics.

Bottom line: For best performance, opt for a discrete GPU.

Further reading:

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