Integrated graphics or dedicated GPU? (Windows PC)

So far, I’ve always used a dedicated GPU on my music PC, as the last time I upgraded my whole machine the best CPUs were ones without integrated graphics. But now (8 years after my last major upgrade) there are a ton of good CPUs with integrated graphics. I am pretty tech-savvy, but I am wondering if any Cubase users have experience and can offer some opinions on the subject. Specifically:

With a dedicated GPU, you have to deal with the potential for more PCI bus contention, fan noise (I have used passively cooled cards in my last two builds, but they are hard to find) and more frequent (and potentially less stable) driver updates since they are usually trying to keep pace with the latest games.

With integrated, you have the obvious benefits of fewer cards and better potential airflow, fewer noise issues, but do the integrated graphics use up a lot of CPU resources when just running basic tasks, enough to have a noticeable effect on audio performance?

I use a lot of plugins and soft synths, and am currently about to max out my old i7-980 six core CPU on my latest track. I already had to remove my master limiter/compression on the main stereo bus because I was hitting the limit. I know that even the current CPUs will offer more than double my current CPU power, but I’d like to get the longest lifetime that I can. Should I go for a CPU with integrated graphics and slim down the system with my next upgrade, or keep with my dedicated GPU?

I don’t think the integrated graphics take up “CPU resources”, it’s actually a separate dedicated integrated GPU in the same die as the CPU. It’s in one package but separate processors. If anything the tradeoff is going to be core count (because some space has to go to the GPU) and possibly heat generation/dissipation.

I’ve always had a dedicated GPU so I can’t really help you. Hopefully someone can chime in. If I were you I’d write down what my budget is and what the priorities are, then just go find the most bang-for-buck solution.

If you are not using your computer for gaming you might as well just save the money and go for integrated GPU or use the saved money for a better CPU. There is also the fact that with a discrete GPU you will likely need a more powerful PSU. If anything, the only drawback is that the iGPU will use some of your system RAM, but with at least 16 GB RAM it shouldn’t be a problem at all. There are also no tradeoff with core count and most Intel CPU’s do come with iGPU.

I have also always used a discrete GPU, but I’m also using my computer for gaming from time to time.

Thanks for the replies. My budget is often about $2000 for upgrading, which generally goes just to CPU, RAM, Motherboard, as I re-use my drives and rack-mount case. That usually leaves out the very top line Xeon and such CPUs, but usually means I can get a top tier mainstream CPU.

Professionally, I’m a software developer focusing on GPU programming, so I probably should know this stuff, but my jobs have been either high-end PC systems running VR or mobile, so I don’t know a lot about integrated GPUs on PCs.

It sounds like I won’t be making a huge trade-off by going with a 10900 when it is available (and I have the money saved up) vs the 10900F model. I don’t plan to overclock for noise and stability reasons, so the K variants don’t appeal to me.

Even though you have no plan to overclock, the K variants are still running a higher clockspeed and the noise is only if you select a noisy cooler.
For a DAW computer I would never consider a Xeon CPU as they will, in many cases perform worse, because of their low clockspeed.