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What is the difference between an integrated and a non-integrated system board?

Answer: A "system board" is another name for motherboard. Therefore integrated and non-integrated system boards are two types of motherboards.

An integrated system board has multiple components integrated into the board itself. These may include the CPU, video card, sound card, and various controller cards.

A non-integrated system board uses installable components and expansion cards. For example, a non-integrated system board may allow you to upgrade the video card by removing the old one and installing a new one. Non-integrated motherboards typically have several PCI expansion slots as well.

Most laptop use fully integrated system boards, since they provide a smaller form factor than non-integrated boards. Desktop computers often use non-integrated motherboards, though they may contain some integrated parts. For example, most modern motherboards used in desktop computers have an integrated sound card and controller cards. Some may even have an integrated processor and video card as well.

Since non-integrated system boards often have some integrated components, it is difficult to define the exact difference between the two types. In fact, it may be more accurate to refer to a non-integrated system board as a partially integrated system board. Still, when it comes to technical specifications, it can be helpful to know what the difference is between integrated and non-integrated motherboards. While there is no official definition of either type, here is what I have found:

In most cases, the difference comes down to the video card. If a motherboard has an integrated graphics processor, it is generally considered to be an integrated motherboard. If the graphics processor resides on a removable card, then the motherboard is considered to be non-integrated. Therefore, when you see the terms "integrated" or "non-integrated" in technical specifications, you can at least tell what type of graphics processor the system uses.

Published: March 30, 2011 — by Per Christensson

Answer from the PC Help Center