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Graphic Card Buying Guide

Posted on March 1, 2008
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A graphics or video card is a hardware specifically designed to process image data and output it to your monitor, enabling you to see it. It is placed in an expansion card slot in your PC and it works by calculating and processing how images appear and render them to the screen. Processing 3D images and video images can be so complex that installation of direct power supply and fans are recommended to cool them. Those who are planning to play advanced games may need a capable graphics board.

Type of graphics card

The question of what type of graphics card should be purchased lies on what type of images will be handled. Will it be used for rendering 3D images or solely for 2D images only? If the requirement is the latter, then there’s no need for a really high-end, high-cost graphic card. Look for the low cost one, since majority of the graphic cards available are an integrated graphics solution that suffice for 2D applications.

3D graphics, on the other hand, can be a hunt for a substantially high-end graphics card. The performance of graphics card will affect the frame rate and image quality of 3D programs and games. Both the geometry and the lighting of the images are always taken into account. Some high-end gaming and CAD (computer aided design) systems have more than one graphics card slot. This configuration allows you to put a pair of cards in your system for much faster video performance.

Nowadays, most graphic cards have included a small microchip called the Graphics Processing Unit or GPU that provide the algorithms and memory to process complex images which results to reduction of the workload of the main CPU and faster processing. This is the brain of the card, and it handles all the complicated graphics algorithms that would normally have to be performed by the main system processor.

Listed below are specifications for consideration:

The following are memory capacity (RAM) that is used exclusively for graphics operations: 16-32MB, 64MB, 128MB, 256MB, 512MB, 640MB and more. More memory means better performance, improved 3d texturing and higher display resolutions. More memory allows for smoother game play, although 256MB could be enough.

Some graphics cards include a connector for Digital Visual Interface (DVI) monitors, handy because a lot of LCD screens support DVI. DVI offers better image quality than the standard analog VGA interface connector. If you’re planning to purchase a graphics card with these specifications, make sure your card has a DVI connection so you can take advantage of this improvement.

Some graphics cards with built-in TV tuners enables you to watch your favorite channels through your PC and use your computer to save shows to your hard drive and watch them at your convenience.

There are two major manufacturers of chips for graphics cards: nVidia and ATI, both support PCI Express technology. ATI offers the Radeon series of cards, while NVIDIA has its GeForce family. Older computers might not have a PCIe slot so make sure before buying a new graphics card.

Graphics cards are usually priced for performance. In other words, the more you spend on a card, the better your performance will be

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

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