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What is a Graphics Card


If you like to play video games on your PC, then the graphics card is by far the most important component in your computer. You can think of a graphics card as a computer within the computer itself. It provides its own processor and memory which are entirely dedicated to rendering realistic 3D scenes on your screen. The performance of video games is largely dependent on the graphics card, although other system specifications are still important. Graphics cards are not just important for gamers, however. Anyone using their computers for any kind of 3D computer aided design will also need a decent graphics card.

Graphics cards come in two varieties. There are integrated graphics chips and dedicated graphics cards. Most laptop computers use integrated graphics chips as do many of the cheapest desktop computers. These graphics cards share the system memory (RAM) instead of providing their own memory. Computers with integrated graphics cards are unsuitable for playing most modern games, since there simply isn't enough processing power or memory available to provide acceptable performance. By contrast, dedicated graphics cards provide their own processing power and memory entirely dedicated to rendering 3D graphics.

Dedicated graphics cards are assembled by companies such as Asus, XFX, MSI and many more. However, the actual processing chips on them are manufactured either by nVidia or AMD (formerly ATI). The actual company which assembles the card may provide some extra features and customized drivers and software but, for the most part, it doesn't make much difference. Both nVidia and AMD provide an extensive range of graphics chips to suit all budgets. The cheapest ones will enable you to play older games at reasonable frame rates, but you'll find them struggling with the more graphics-intensive newer games. The higher-end solutions provide one gigabyte or more of memory, multiple processing cores and decent performance in the latest video games. These days, all dedicated graphics cards use the new PCI-Express interface.

If you're thinking of buying a new graphics card, the best thing to do is read some reviews first. It's also a good idea to look at some benchmark results. Benchmarks are tests which are run to determine the performance of a graphics card (or other components) compared to others.

Installing a graphics card is a fairly straightforward process and something well within reach of the average computer user. You'll usually find instructions with the new graphics card.

 

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