A graphics card is the computer component that creates the image you see on your screen. It accomplishes this by transforming data into an understandable signal for your monitor.
Computers may render graphics via integrated or dedicated graphics. Integrated graphics have graphics processing units (GPUs) built into the motherboard, while dedicated graphics have a standalone graphics card.
All computer motherboards have integrated graphics and can display visual information. Some also provide expansion slots to accommodate a dedicated graphics card.
Now, here’s a crucial question.
Should I Connect My Monitor To The Graphics Card Or Motherboard?
The decision will depend on the specific tasks you’re using the computer for. It makes little difference which one you connect to your monitor if you only use your PC for simple functions such as surfing the web, emailing, and watching movies.
However, if you’re into serious gaming or advanced graphics, the graphics card will become necessary because integrated graphics will struggle to handle those tasks.
Integrated graphics share resources with the central processing unit (CPU), which can limit your computer’s performance. Essentially, they use the computer’s RAM, unlike dedicated graphics that come with their RAM.
Are you ready to learn more? Keep reading.
How A Graphics Card Connects To The Monitor
Most graphics cards include two monitor ports. The one for LCD monitors is usually a DVI connector, while the other for CRT displays are generally a VGA connector. Some graphics cards include two DVI ports instead of just one.
Using a CRT screen is also not out of the question. You can connect CRT screens to DVI ports with an adaptor.
Apple once produced displays with its own proprietary Apple Display Connector (ADC). New Apple displays use a DVI connection, although older monitors are still in use.
Many people only connect one of their two monitors. You can acquire a dual-head graphics card that splits the display between two screens if you want to use two monitors. Also, a computer with two PCIe-enabled dual-head video cards can support four monitors.
About Graphics Cards
A graphics card is a miniature version of a computer’s motherboard. It’s a circuit board that contains a GPU, memory, and other electronic components.
Graphics cards are powerful devices that act like standalone computers. They are usually the most advanced parts of a computer, especially high-end graphics cards for gaming and advanced graphics.
They can create 2D visuals and realistic, high-resolution 3D graphics in real-time without pre-rendered information. They’re great for graphics production, such as photography and video, because they can alter and process many pixels in real-time.
Graphics cards can also perform ray tracing – a technique that involves modeling the path of a light beam on an image’s materials and textures. Ray tracing produced realistic graphics and required plenty of professing power.
As ray-tracing graphics cards become more affordable, video games will increasingly use them to render cinema-quality visuals in real-time.
How Graphics Cards Work
The CPU interacts with the software to transmit image data to the graphics card when you launch an application. The graphics card determines how to create an image from the pixels on the screen. It then transfers the data to the monitor through a cable.
Components Of The Graphics Card
Many people usually confuse graphics cards with the graphics processing unit or GPU, but the GPU is only one of the graphics card’s components.
There are four major components in a graphics card:
- A graphics processor (GPU)
- A motherboard connector for power supply and data.
- Video memory (VRAM)
- A monitor connection
The Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)
The GPU is analogous to a computer’s CPU. The GPU performs the complex mathematical and geometric calculations required for graphics rendering. Some of the fastest GPUs have more transistors than the average CPU.
As the GPU creates images, it stores data such as color and position on the screen in the card’s RAM. A portion of the RAM also serves as a frame buffer, keeping completed images until they’re ready for display.
There are two types of graphics processing units – integrated and dedicated GPUs.
Integrated GPUs come permanently attached to the motherboard, and you cannot change or upgrade them.
They are common in laptops and low-cost desktop PCs. These visuals are often slow and unsuitable for applications like gaming or advanced graphics.
Dedicated GPUs are components of a graphics card that fits into a motherboard expansion slot. This type of graphics card is removable, allowing for replacement as newer graphics cards become available.
Graphics Cards Brands
Two rival brands, Nvidia and AMD, produce nearly all graphics cards available in the market. One of these companies almost certainly made or licensed the graphics card you buy or discover inside your PC.
AMD is a close rival to Nvidia, and the two companies occasionally outperform. However, on average, the best AMD cards still trail their Nvidia counterparts in processing power.
Other Applications Of Graphics Cards
Graphics cards are often the most complicated and high-performance component in a computer, rivaling or exceeding the CPU in terms of intricacy and processing power (central processing unit).
High-end graphics cards perform all their traditional duties, including rendering the typical visuals you see every day. For computer games, they can also render complex 3D graphics in real-time.
Designers now use high-end graphics cards to enhance their work. Complex image processing apps that perform tasks like computational photography, picture, video, and graphics production now employ the graphics card rather than the CPU.
These processes employ artificial intelligence and computer processing to create results previously obtainable when taking photos or videos.
The raw processing power of graphics cards also makes them useful for some non-graphics work. For instance, to perform complex mining processes, cryptocurrency miners use computers with powerful graphics cards.
How To Check Your Graphics Card Model
Knowing your graphics card model on Windows is easy. The steps below describe how.
- On your screen’s bottom-left, right-click on the Windows icon. From the options, select Device Manager.
- In Device Manager, find Display adapters and click the arrow on the left to expand.
- All installed graphics cards will appear. Most PCs usually have only one graphics card, although a few computers come with two. The displayed name is the model of the graphics card.
- You can get additional information about your graphics card. Right-click on the video, and from the options, select Properties.
You’ll need to consult the card’s or computer’s manual if you require the card’s serial number or a more specific product number. You can also open the computer casing and look at the card inside; it should contain the information you need.
On a Mac:
Macs are famous for quality and cutting-edge features. One area where they frequently fall short is visuals. Mac computers tend to have highly rudimentary graphics cards, which may not be smooth for computer games.
Follow the steps below to know the graphics card installed on your Mac.
- On your screen’s top right, click on the Apple icon.
- From the options, click on “About This Mac.” A window with information about your Mac computer will pop up. Next to “Graphics,” you’ll see your card’s name and model.
- Click “System Report” at the bottom of the window if you require further information about your card.
- Select “Graphics/Displays” from the left sidebar when the new list appears. A more extended set of graphics card details will display.
How Much Graphics Card Memory Do You Need?
Your GPU executes numerous calculations per second to render the visuals you see on the monitor. It does this when images on your display change or even when you move your mouse. Therefore, for the GPU to function, it requires video RAM (vRAM).
With integrated graphics, it shares this memory with the CPU. Rendering visuals via integrated graphics, therefore, takes a chunk of the total available memory.
A dedicated graphics card comes with one memory for rendering graphics, leaving the CPU with all available resources.
Although this does not necessarily affect performance, a GPU’s RAM capacity determines how much detail it can process. A GPU with 2GB of RAM will be enough for most tasks, but gamers and creative pros will benefit from at least 4GB.
The game you want to play and the resolution will ultimately determine how much memory you need.
High-end games demand at least 6GB of RAM to operate at 1080p resolution, while 4K resolution with high texture quality and full ray-tracing features may require more than 8GB of memory.
Creative professions producing 4K video or running graphically intensive apps will benefit from the same GPUs that gamers use.
A graphics card renders the images and video on a monitor by transforming data into an understandable signal.
Computers may render graphics via integrated or dedicated graphics. Integrated graphics have their GPUs built-in to the motherboard, while dedicated graphics have a separate expansion slot.
If your computer usage is usually for simple tasks like online surfing, emailing, and watching movies, then you’ll be fine without a dedicated graphics card.
Integrated graphics share resources with the CPU, which can limit your computer’s performance. So, if you use your PC for serious gaming and advanced graphics, you need a dedicated graphics card.