April 13, 2024


Unlimited Technology

The 10 Best PC Games You Can Play Without A Graphics Card

Graphics cards seem to be getting bigger, bulkier, and more costly as the years go on, with some of the top-tier cards on the market fetching upwards of $1,499 or more. That’s a huge sum just to be able to play video games at the highest resolution and framerate, and it’s a deal-breaker for many.

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The truth is that there are a lot of games that don’t necessarily need a graphics card in order to run. Granted, these are not graphical powerhouses like Far Cry 6 or Resident Evil Village, but they’re still a lot of fun. And the fact that they can be played on minimal hardware setups without a dedicated GPU is just the icing on the cake.

10 Overwatch

A player prepares to detonate a bomb in Overwatch

Surprisingly, this uber-popular FPS shooter doesn’t require a dedicated graphics card in order to run, which is good news for first-time or beginner Overwatch players. According to the minimal specs, it can be played on an Intel HD 4400 series chipset, which is about as low as they come. This is good news for Overwatch gamers who want to take the party mobile, on a laptop.

As expected, the game isn’t going to win any awards for its graphical fidelity, due to the fact that it won’t be able playable at higher settings. It’s possible to nudge the game slightly beyond the low settings, at which the tradeoff between FPS and playability starts to kick in.

9 League Of Legends

A shot of the gameplay from League of Legends

There’s a running joke in the video game community that League of Legends can probably run on a 486 computer from the ’90s. While that’s a bit of a stretch, it does say a lot for how versatile the game is on a myriad of system configs. Gamers definitely do not need a dedicated GPU to enjoy League of Legends, now or ever.

Mac owners, especially, have benefited from how League of Legends is structured, and it can run on the most lightly powered Macbook Air with ease. It’s still an addictive classic with a super-strong fan base, and Riot Games remains dedicated to giving it a few tweaks here and there so that it can look its best.


8 Fortnite

A firefight in Fortnite

Fortnite continues to entertain players with its fantastic gameplay, and a catalog of earth-shattering events that keep the game fresh. It’s also a prime example of how a modern title can look and run on Intel’s integrated graphics hardware, which omits the need for a GPU.

The minimum system requirements for Fortnite are listed as 4GB of RAM and an Intel HD Graphics 4000 chipset. That’s more than acceptable when it comes to smooth gaming, while still retaining the beautiful visuals. Heftier sequences will result in a drop of FPS, however, though it’s still tolerable.

7 Portal

A player creating portals in Portal 2

These days, it’s rather easy for underpowered computers to handle Valve’s Source 2 engine, and that’s good news for Portal fans. For those who have never jumped into the series before, now’s the time. Not only is it easy on the hardware, but it’s one of the coolest and most inventive FPS puzzle games ever made.

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Portal’s gameplay is simple, consisting of a gun that can create two types of dimensional portals that allow players to navigate a series of puzzle-themed rooms. It’s a game that tests the grey matter, without testing the machine it’s running on.

6 Grand Theft Auto V

Michael overlooking the city in Grand Theft Auto V

Despite some unpopular opinions about Grand Theft Auto V, it’s still one of the most widely played games in the world. However, even with today’s hardware, GTA V can be a challenge to run on ultra-high settings, which is why it’s so ironic that the game can be played on low-end systems. GTA V is capable of running on an Intel 4400 chipset with a mere 4GB of RAM, though the results aren’t spectacular.

This means barebones visual clarity and detail in order to play the game on a lower-spec system. It might be easier to pick up GTA V for a home video game console, as opposed to suffering through a PC version on a low-end system that can’t properly tackle its engine.

5 Valorant

A player holding a knife in Valorant

Valorant is relatively new to the FPS arena, having come out in June of 2020. Yet, it can still run on an Intel HD 4000 or AMD R5 200 architecture, all without the need for a dedicated GPU to handle the visual workload. This particular game is dependent more on the CPU, rather than any graphics hardware, which is a benefit for GPU-less gamers.

This gives players a lot of wiggle room to adjust graphics preferences and hit their desired sweet spots when it comes to clarity vs framerate. The game itself looks brilliant and sharp, which is a testament to how integrated graphics can power a deceptively simple FPS title.

4 Rainbow Six Siege

A firefight inside of a house in Rainbow Six Siege

This popular FPS game is capable of running on multiple system configs that don’t have a GPU installed. It can even be run on the Intel Core i3 CPU platform, but framerates will suffer. Thankfully, AMD’s Ryzen APU processors are there to save the day.

A Ryzen 3 3200G Vega APU combines graphics processing technology onboard the actual CPU, for a mix of both worlds. This is comparable to the minimum system requirements required to play R6 Siege, which requires either an Nvidia GTX 460 or AMD Radeon HD 5770, both of which are quite old at this point.

3 Black Mesa

An RPG fired at a helicopter in Black Mesa

Another APU that offers extreme bang-for-the-buck is AMD’s Ryzen 5 5600G. With Radeon 7 graphics technology, it eliminates the need for a GPU in order to play many of today’s games. Black Mesa is a perfect example. This official Half-Life fan remake can be played on a 5600G with solid framerates.

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Most APUs and integrated graphics processors usually require graphics settings to be knocked down to Low, but Black Mesa is capable of hitting higher numbers. As long as the integrated video processing is up to par, there’s no need to splurge on an expensive video card.

2 Red Dead Redemption 2

A character on horseback in the wilderness in Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2 is every Western movie fan’s dream come true, and pairing it to the Ryzen 5600G produces interesting results, especially given how demanding this particular Rockstar title really is. It can challenge even the most powerful PC rigs around, which makes its favorable performance on an APU so much more surprising.

It’s good news for laptop gamers who can run it at 720p resolution, without noticing a huge drop in quality. It’s not going to be as smooth or vivid as many hope for, but budget-conscious gamers can at least get to experience this masterpiece in limited form.

1 Forza Horizon 4

A classic muscle car in Forza Horizon 4

Racing fans can rejoice at the fact that they won’t need a GPU in order to get playable framerates out of Forza Horizon 4. Results will vary according to the hardware, but the game can net some playable framerates due to a well-constructed game engine, and less demanding visuals.

AMD’s APUs are recommended, particularly the Vega 8 or 11 architecture (3200G and 3400G). On the Intel side, the UHD 750 architecture is a safe bet as well, though players should be prepared for minor drops and framerate hiccups, depending on how much detail is being shown on screen.

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