What Does GPU Stand For in Computers?

By John Adebimitan

For core computer users and enthusiasts alike, interest often revolves around the processing speed of laptops and computers. The processing speed of a computer or laptop determines how much information is fed into and retrieved from the device. Another important consideration is the processor itself. Internet professionals in the gaming industry work with something called the GPU.

So what does GPU stand for in Computers?

GPU stands for Graphics Processing Unit. Structurally-speaking, a GPU is a component in a computer/laptop that enhances a computer’s ability to create and render computer graphics. It usually comprises a processing unit, memory, a cooling system as well as connections to a display device. A GPU also performs the task of improving all the videos, graphics, and animations displayed on a laptop’s screen.

Now that we know what a GPU stands for, the next question should be what does a GPU do? For starters, a GPU ensures that images and videos display in the proper format, on a computer’s screen

Types of GPU

It is important to note that there are two types of GPUs, deployed in laptop computers. The first type is the dedicated graphics card, while the second is called an integrated graphics processing unit.

We shall examine each type of GPU in more detail.

Dedicated Graphics Card

A dedicated Graphics card is also referred to by other names such as discrete, video card, a display card, or a graphics adapter. A key feature of a dedicated graphics card is that the user only needs to place the card in an expansion slot on the motherboard, close to the Central Processing Unit (CPU). You should also note that a dedicated graphics card comes with its Random Access Memory (RAM). This dedicated RAM makes the dedicated graphics card a powerful processor

Dedicated Graphics Card is also easy to replace or upgrade.

Integrated Graphics Processing Unit (IGPU)

An Integrated graphics processing unit also goes by other names such as shared graphics solutions, integrated graphics processors (IGP), or unified memory architecture (UMA). A key difference with an IGPU is that the processor comes built into the motherboard of the computer. An IGPU does not come with a dedicated RAM; it uses a portion of the computer’s RAM to perform its duties. This arrangement may lower the performance level of an integrated Graphics Processing unit.

Now that we know what GPU stands for, let us take a look at what a GPU does. The following are the real-life applications for a GPU:

  • 1. GPUS are employed in powering gaming applications and consoles.
  • 2. GPUs find widespread use in cloud gaming computing and applications
  • 3. GPUs form an integral part of workstations. These workstations help with tasks such as video editing, encoding, decoding, transcoding, and rendering among others. 4. GPUs find application in Artificial intelligence training and cloud computing.

What Are GPUs Used for Today?

GPUs are generally known for generating graphics for video games. However, it is not limited to only gaming. Listed below are some other features of GPUS.

  • Machine Learning
  • Video Editing
  • Blockchain and Crypto Mining
  • 3D Graphics rendering for media work

Machine Learning

A good GPU is essential if you want to use your PC for machine learning. Machine learning involves assembling analytical models using large volumes of data to find new patterns and present critical conclusions. So, a suitable GPU is needed for the required tools and software to run on your computer without crashing.

Additionally, the GPU helps out with this demanding computational work by seamlessly executing the multiple and complex associated processes.  

Video Editing

Another important use of the GPU is for editing videos. A GPU would make the work easier for those that handle the conversion of large videos to a different format without losing its resolution.

If the system only has a CPU, it would be overburdened by this work and may develop errors or glitches that would affect your overall output. Furthermore, the GPU also supports video encoding, decoding, and compression software, making it a valuable resource for any video editor. 

Blockchain And Crypto Mining

Crypto mining consumes time and requires heavy software for it to work smoothly. You would also need sophisticated encrypted algorithms to store transaction records.

This means that mining any cryptocurrency would require a PC that works efficiently, more importantly, a PC with a GPU.

3D Graphics Rendering

In recent times, digital artists have been generating lifelike images and art displays. However, rendering 3D graphics is very intensive; using a GPU-enabled computer would allow these artists to create images and abstract art that was initially impossible with only the CPU. 

GPU Vs Graphics Card – Similarities and Differences

The GPU and the graphics card accomplish the same things, but they have distinct features you can use to identify them. Here, we will examine their similarities and differences.


  • Both the GPU and graphics card can be used to render graphics for video games. This application is evident in the hyperrealism of virtual reality and 3D games. 
  • You can also use both to create unique visual effects for films, commercials, and other media works. 
  • They can also be applied in video encoding, i.e., converting the video from raw files to different formats such as MOV, MKF, MP4, Webm, etc.


  • The GPU is the unit that performs the actual rendering of graphics, increases the creation of images for frame output, and performs calculations.

On the other hand, the graphics card contains the GPU, a BIOS chip, VRAM (Video RAM), a random-access memory digital-analogue converter (RAMDAC), and ports used to connect the card to the motherboard. Therefore, it can be noted that GPUs can be found in graphics cards.

  • GPUs can be integrated into the system and often come with the computer system alongside the CPU. In contrast, the graphics card is an external piece of hardware connected to the PC with the help of a port and cable. As a result, these integrated GPUs are often less powerful than the graphics card. 

5 Best GPUs And Graphics Cards on The Market

It is always preferable to go for the graphics card that would offer the most value, which can also boost your integrated GPU. Here are some that you should consider getting

  • Nvidia Geforce RTX 3060 Ti
  • AMD Radeon RX 6950 XT
  • Nvidia Geforce RTX 3080 Ti
  • AMD Radeon RX 6800
  • Nvidia Geforce RTX 3050 (a lower-priced Nvidia graphics card)

In conclusion, both processing units are needed for the optimal performance of a high-end computer.

About The Author