The Graphics Card is responsible for rendering an image to your PC screen/monitor or video output, it does this by converting data into a signal your video output can understand. The better your graphics card the more improved the video output produced. This is naturally very important for gamers and visual designers or editors.
GPU stands for Graphics Processing Unit
Now the brain of the card is the GPU as the brain of the computer is the CPU. It’s the brain of the graphics card and is what creates the visuals you see on the screen. How powerful those GPU’s are will vary on the model you select. The GPU works as a translator, it takes data coming from the CPU and transforms it into imagery. More complex video output, like you find in high-definition games require more complex and quicker GPUs to accommodate the stream of data.
There are basically 2 types of graphics cards
Integrated Graphics Cards
Graphics built into the motherboard where no add-in card is used. You’ll find these built into most ‘standard’ laptops and computers, they are a cost-effective model but cannot be easily upgraded. An integrated GPU does not have its own memory for performing calculations (for graphics-related calculations, especially in a game, a huge amount of memory is needed). Such a GPU utilizes the RAM as its memory.
Discrete Graphics Cards
An add-in graphics card that is installed on to the motherboard as an extra component. Ideal for those wanting to modify their system by upgrading the graphics cards.
What does 2GB and 4GB graphics card mean? What’s the role of memory on graphic cards?
A dedicated graphics card, on the other hand, has its own RAM for performing calculations (this memory is faster than the RAM), and by 2 GB/4GB graphics, we refer to the amount of dedicated memory the graphics card has. In other words, the GPU needs memory to perform all the graphics related calculations and render them. The more amount of dedicated memory the GPU has, the more details it can render (such as higher screen resolution, textures, anti-aliasing).
However, the amount of memory does not affect the GPU performance, it merely determines how much details it can render. A graphics card performance depends on other factors, such as its technology, pipelines, number of cores, clock frequency, memory type and frequency etc.
Most people using a modern computer for standard tasks like surfing the internet, creating documents or watching movies will be fine using the integrated graphics.
For users branching out into gaming, graphics designing or video editing, a discrete graphics card is usually needed to improve the video output processing time. Without this, the user may find their game lagging or jittering at crucial points.
You can expand your PC internally by adding additional cards. Over the years graphics card expansion slots have changed significantly from PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect), AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port) to the latest PCI-E (Gen1/2/3) (PCI-Express) which offer the best bandwidth.
Some motherboards have expansion slots allowing users to add more than one graphics card, this is called SLI (NVIDIA) or CrossfireX (AMD) allowing users to get improved performance from their system.
Users will need an SLI or Crossfire ready motherboard to use these technologies. The intention being to link two of the same graphics cards together.
SLI also is known as Scalable Link Interface was developed by NVIDIA for linking multiple cards in a single system. SLI works by increasing the available processing power for graphics usage.CrossfireX, also known as Crossfire, is developed by AMD.
To understand each hardware better, we recommend you enroll for our Comptia A+ computer engineering training.
There are two main manufacturers of discrete graphics cards, AMD and Nvidia
Nvidia graphics cards are widely accepted in Nigeria, although some users have allegiances to a particular brand but each will do the same job.
AMD also produce some integrated graphics option as well as the current market leader Intel.
Now you know what a graphics card is and how it improves your video output, you can also make better judgement now selecting the right tool to work with when starting a career as a multimedia enthusiast or gaming expert.
To know more, you can also enroll in our multimedia training.