Vector Databases vs. Graph Databases: A Comprehensive Comparison – Mantium

Vector Databases vs. Graph Databases: A Comprehensive Comparison

March 10, 2023   ·   10 min read

This article compares vector databases vs. graph databases. You will learn why you should use any of the databases, their specific use cases, and examples.

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Modern businesses rely heavily on data, therefore choosing the appropriate database is essential to their success. Knowing which database to utilize for your application might be difficult because there are so many of them accessible, and it also depends on the type of use cases. In this article, we will explore the differences between vector databases and graph databases and help you choose the right database for your needs.

If you’d like a summary of the discussed concepts, see the table below.

FactorVector DatabaseGraph Database
Data StructureBased on high-dimensional vectors, suitable for handling high-dimensional data such as photos and movies.Built on nodes and edges, suitable for processing data with complicated relationships.
Type of DataAppropriate for analyzing patterns in the data, but may not be ideal for analyzing relationships between entities.Better suited for analyzing relationships between entities and complex networks.
QueryingIdeal for similarity searches, but may not be as efficient for analyzing relationships between entities.More efficient for analyzing relationships between entities and complex networks, but may not be as efficient for similarity searches.
ScalabilityHighly scalable due to distributed architecture.May not be as scalable as vector databases, but provides more flexibility and functionality.
PerformanceProvides fast similarity searches.Provides fast queries involving relationships.
Business Needs and Use CasesThe choice depends on specific business needs and use cases.The choice depends on specific business needs and use cases.
A table explaining the comparison of both databases

Vector Databases

Vector databases are designed to store and retrieve data that can be represented as vectors. Each vector can hold high-dimensional, hidden state information about a word or phrase which then can be stored as a record within the database. The use of vector databases is commonly seen in machine learning, recommendation systems, and similarity search applications.

The advantages of vector databases include fast querying and high scalability. However, they can struggle with handling data with complex relationships, and that’s where the Graph database shines.

Use Cases for Vector Databases

Vector databases are widely used in applications that require high-dimensional data storage and retrieval. For example, image search engines use vector databases to store and retrieve images based on their features. Similarly, music streaming services use vector databases to recommend songs to users based on their listening history.

Natural Language Processing (NLP)

We’ve seen quite a lot of applications of Vector databases in NLP; one common example is in Semantic Search. The success of vector databases can also be seen in other tasks such as sentiment analysis, document similarity, and text classification.

Let’s take a look at the Semantic search.

Vector databases are used for semantic search by constructing vector embeddings of text using embedding models, which capture the meaning and context of the text. For example, Pinecone uses OpenAI text-embedding-ada-002 model to generate embedding vectors. The vector database is then used to index these vector embeddings, enabling quick querying and similarity searches.

The vector database compares the vector representation of the search query with the vector representations of the indexed documents or records and returns the results that are most comparable based on the cosine similarity of the vectors when a user submits a search query. In comparison to conventional text search techniques, semantic search provides more accurate and pertinent search results because the vector embeddings capture the meaning and context of the text.

Organizations can give their consumers a more natural language query experience by leveraging vector databases for semantic search, enabling users to locate what they need more quickly without having to be very knowledgeable about the data’s classification. This strategy can increase search accuracy and effectiveness as well as user engagement and happiness.

Recommendation Systems

Vector databases can also be used to analyze user behavior and preferences, and recommend products or content that are similar to what the user has engaged with in the past. This is a common use case in e-commerce and content platforms.

By creating vector embeddings of user preferences and behavior, including prior purchases, searches, and interactions with content, and comparing it to the vector embeddings of previously indexed interactions. Based on the cosine similarity of the vectors, the vector database then returns the most comparable interactions, from which the user may receive recommendations.

Examples of Vector Databases

Chroma, FAISS by Facebook, Milvus, pgvector, Pinecone, Qdrant, Vespa, Weaviate

Why do you need a Vector Database?

Vector databases are especially useful for when you need a search and retrieval system which compares and returns the similarity of the vectors based on a search query. They enable you to easily find the most similar objects by comparing their vector embeddings.

Here are some thoughts on why you should use a vector database:

Benefits of using a vector databaseExplanation
Improved search accuracyVector databases are highly accurate in finding similar matches, providing more relevant search results than traditional search technologies.
Fast search timesVector databases are designed for fast and efficient similarity searches, making them ideal for use in large-scale applications where performance is critical.
ScalabilityVector databases can handle millions or even billions of vectors with ease, making them highly scalable and suitable for use in applications that require large-scale storage and retrieval of vectors.
FlexibilityVector databases are flexible and can be used in a wide range of applications, from image recognition and natural language processing to recommendation systems and fraud detection. They can be customized to suit specific requirements and integrated with other tools and technologies to enhance their capabilities
A table showing the benefits of using a vector database.

Graph Databases

Graph databases can manage data with complicated relationships, such as that found in social networks and fraud detection. Nodes and edges, which can represent entities and the connections between them, are how they store data. Given their remarkable flexibility, graph databases are perfect for applications where the data’s structure changes regularly.

Graph databases have the flexibility and ability to manage complicated relationships as advantages. When working with densely connected data, they can also offer quick query performance. However, they are less ideal for managing high-dimensional data and are not as scalable as vector databases.

Use Cases for Graph Databases

Determining Relationships Among Users – Social Networks

Graph databases are well-suited for managing social network data because they can efficiently model and store the complex relationships between users, their connections, and their activities on the platform. They offer a more natural and intuitive approach to studying and illustrating the connections between individuals and their interactions by describing social networks as graphs. For instance, they can be used to find influential members or communities in a social network or to suggest new connections based on connections or common interests.

Fraud Detection

Graph databases can be utilized to detect fraud by examining transaction data and looking for patterns or anomalies that can point to fraudulent behavior. They can quickly spot suspicious patterns by representing transaction data as a graph, such as a significant number of transactions between previously unrelated entities or transactions involving high-risk regions or individuals. These databases can also be used to perform real-time fraud detection by continuously monitoring and analyzing transaction data as it occurs.

Knowledge Management

Graph databases can be used for storing and retrieving knowledge by representing complex relationships between entities in a graph. This makes it possible to navigate and search through huge, complicated knowledge bases—like wiki entries, scientific articles, or technical documents—more effectively and intuitively. As well as identifying new relationships or connections within the knowledge base that might not be immediately obvious using conventional search techniques, graph databases can be used to offer relevant data depending on user preferences or search queries.

Examples of Graph Databases

Neo4j, Amazon Neptune, Dgraph, OrientDB

Why do you need a Graph Database?

Traditional databases built to handle organized data in tables can face challenges from the growing complexity and interconnection of data in modern applications. Graph databases can manage complex relationships and interconnected data. They are ideal for some special use cases like determining relationships among users, fraud detection, and knowledge management where recognizing connection is crucial since they are excellent at modeling and querying relationships between items.

Relationship ManagementGraph databases are optimized for relationship management and can efficiently model and query complex relationships between entities.
ScalabilityGraph databases are horizontally scalable, meaning that they can handle increasing amounts of data by adding more nodes to the cluster. This makes them highly scalable and able to handle large and complex datasets.
FlexibilityGraph databases offer a dynamic schema that can adapt to changing data structures, unlike traditional databases that require a predefined schema. This allows for greater flexibility and agility in managing complex data structures.
A table showing the benefits of using a graph database.

Comparison Overview of Vector Databases vs. Graph Databases

Data structure

Graph databases are built on nodes and edges, while vector databases are based on high-dimensional vectors. This indicates that graph databases are more suitable for processing data with complicated relationships while vector databases are better suited for handling high-dimensional data, such as photos and movies, where each pixel or frame can be represented as a vector with multiple dimensions.


When it comes to querying, graph databases are made for queries involving relationships, while vector databases excel in similarity searches. Although graph databases utilize graph traversal techniques to discover associations between nodes, vector databases use algorithms like k-Nearest Neighbors (k-NN) to locate comparable vectors.

Scalability & Performance

Due to their distributed architecture, vector databases are quite scalable; graph databases, however, may not be as scalable due to the complexity of the data model. Performance is influenced by the nature of the data and the queries that are run. While graph databases are quicker at processing queries involving relationships, vector databases are quicker at similarity searches.

Vector Databases vs. Graph Databases: Use Cases Intersection

Fraud detection

Fraud detection can make use of both graph databases and vector databases. While graph databases can be used to analyze relationships between entities like users, accounts, and transactions, vector databases can be used to evaluate transaction data.

Recommendation systems

Both vector databases and graph databases can be utilized in recommendation systems. While graph databases can be used to evaluate user relationships, such as social connections, vector databases can be used to analyze user behavior, such as movie viewing patterns.

Image and video recognition

Vector databases are designed to handle high-dimensional data, such as images and videos. But, by encoding images as graphs and analyzing their relationships, graph databases can also be used in image and video recognition.


In conclusion, this article compares vector databases vs. graph databases. They both offer different approaches to data storage and retrieval, each with its strengths and limitations. Understanding the differences between these databases is crucial when selecting the right database for your application. By considering factors such as data representation and storage, querying and data retrieval, scalability and performance, flexibility and ease of use, and use cases, you can make an informed decision about which database is right for your needs.


  1. What is a Vector Database?
  2. Solving complex problems with vector databases

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