Author: Collins Okoth
Tuesday, January 7, 2020

What Is an On-board Video Chipset

A chipset refers to a complex set of components in an integrated circuit. A chipset's main purpose is to manage data flow sequentially between the processor, memory, and all other computer components. Normally, all chipsets are mounted on the motherboard and are responsible for the computer system's overall performance.

The term video chipset, also known as graphics chipset, is defined as the build of the circuit board that powers a graphics card. A graphics card or video card is the computer device responsible for interpreting video or graphic signals from the computer's motherboard and transmits them to the display screen (monitor). On a video card, the onboard video chipset is the flat circuitry board connected to the graphics connectors that send visuals to the monitor.

Their manufacturer and model number usually identify Onboard video chipsets. The onboard video chipsets can be designed to handle different levels of graphic qualities and input plug options. An example of these differences would be highly specific video chipsets designed to handle three-dimensional (3D) graphics for gaming and movies. Similarly, others are meant to output graphics to multiple monitors connected. Some popular and well-known manufacturers of these onboard video cards are Intel, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), and Nvidia.

For example, my laptop shipped with an intel graphics processor, as shown below.

What Is an On-board Video Chipset

On-Board Video Chipset 

The integrated chipset or onboard chipset is used in computing to refer to an originally built chip onto the motherboard and hence ships with the standard motherboard. This term is commonly used when referring to graphic processors, but it can also refer to other processors on a computer, such as audio processors. Whenever a processor is directly incorporated into the construction and design of a motherboard, it is referred to as an integrated chipset. 

In the same light, a graphics processing unit (GPU) embedded onto the motherboard usually doesn't use its Random Access Memory (RAM). Instead, it utilizes the inbuilt memory of the system. For example, if you own a machine with 4GB of RAM, the onboard video card uses between 1% to 5% of the memory available. This is, of course, dependent on the complexity and quality of the graphics being processed as well. Gaming generally requires advanced graphics processing than regular computer tasks such as working on a Microsoft Office document. Therefore, it requires a dedicated GPU.

On-board video chipsets are generally less powerful compared to dedicated video chipsets. However, they are trendy because they are cheap therefore impact the overall price of computers significantly. An integrated video chipset also emits less heat in comparison to the dedicated video chipset. It also means that it consumes less power which in turn helps to improve the overall life of the battery. The onboard video chipset is suitable for less intensive graphics users, such as basic video editing, 2D gaming, watching, and general document processing.

Dedicated Video Chipset

This type of GPU, also known as discrete GPU, is different from the integrated GPU in that it has an independent source of memory. This means that its processing work does not use the installed system RAM. Instead, it does all the graphic processing leaving the system's RAM completely untouched. So, for example, if you have a 2GB GeForce GTX 680M video card (Nvidia), it means that the 2GB video memory is exclusive of your system's 8GB RAM. The dedicated video card is key for heavy graphic processing activities such as gaming and professional graphic design.

However, having a dedicated video card has its drawbacks as well. These cards are typically power-hungry. They consume a lot of power compared to the integrated GPUs and hence decrease the laptop's overall battery life. They are also quite expensive; price differences can vary by up to hundreds of dollars more for a dedicated GPU than an integrated one. Again, since these GPUs are powerful and process high-quality graphics, you need to ensure a good cooling system. A well-ventilated laptop casing with several vents for air circulation and a good fan(s) are essential for these video cards to keep them at good temperatures. It is recommended for laptop users with dedicated graphics cards to get special cooling stands and provide the system with extra heat management techniques.

Note that it is possible to achieve both an integrated and dedicated video card in one system. These are known as switchable video cards. The GPU is built as an integrated graphics card and as a dedicated video card. When the computer handles less intensive graphic activities such as word processing, web browsing, or watching a movie, the graphics card in use automatically switches to the integrated one. Similarly, when a graphic intensive program is launched, such as a game, a high definition movie, or a graphic intensive program, the graphics card automatically powers up and works as a dedicated video card.

For example, my system has a dedicated graphics processor from AMD. Below is a screenshot showing the details

What Is an On-board Video Chipset

What Is a Dual Graphics Card?

A dual video card or graphics card is a powerful performance improvement technique. It involves setting up two graphics cards with similar video chipsets that are interconnected therefore able to work together. Every chipset manufacturer has its specific standard for this kind of setup. This implies that there is a limitation in which video cards can be used in a dual setting. Typically, this kind of setup involves two GPU chipsets from the same chipset manufacturer for compatibility reasons. It is also important to check that the GPU chipsets are listed as compatible before including them in a dual graphics card setup.

There are very few GPU manufacturers, each of which has its company-specific chipsets. Similarly, each of these GPU manufacturers has its own dual graphics card integration system with unique GPU chipsets. GPU producers most commonly sell complete video cards directly to consumers; however, they sometimes offer their processors to third-party companies that also create graphics cards. As a result, these third-party companies come up with video cards that are "interchangeable" at the GPU level. This includes the capability of using similar drivers. Therefore, it is possible to a dual graphics card technology with two cards with different brand names as long as they use the same GPU and are listed as compatible.

The benefit of using this dual graphics card system is that it can take advantage of the parallel processing to a single video or graphic output with two GPUs. This increased graphic processing power results in higher quality graphics as well as higher frame rates. Such visually attractive graphics with very smooth frame rates offer a competitive advantage in gaming. 

In some cases, the two GPUs are contained on a single board. This creates a dual graphics card that utilizes only one expansion slot. The dual setup could also be two dedicated cards connected using a wire or even three or more graphics cards linked. These customizations only offer higher frame rates and improved graphics at a considerably high video resolution.


Computer video cards are capable of handling several video/graphics-related instructions as well as calculations. Onboard video chipsets are mounted directly onto the motherboard and utilize the computer's inbuilt RAM to process graphic information. On the other hand, dedicated or discrete video cards utilize their independent video memory, making them better and faster in handling graphic-intensive programs. These cards are meant to offset the Central Processing Unit (CPU) from processing graphics-related instructions. Almost all motherboards are equipped with an onboard video chip. However, these onboard video chipsets typically do not perform and discrete/dedicated video graphics cards. However, other factors influence the overall performance of the onboard video chipsets, such as processors' clock speed, size, and bandwidth of the memory. For an even more advanced graphics professional or gamer, a dual graphics system could be a good option.

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