Graphics cards, what are they and what do they do? Do I need one? What kind? This is not easily answered so, let’s start at the beginning, what type of user are you? Are you the casual surfer who hops on, checks a few sites, Facebooks, possibly buys online, stocks or quick typing up of papers. Or do you get on your computer, and do some light games? Or are you an aspiring designer, or audiophile, or perhaps a movie buff, or a serious gamer? Well, the answer to this very basic question can start the figuring out of what you may or may not need from your graphics adapter. A graphics card (actually, they are called dedicated graphics cards when you add them to the system, the ones built in or on the motherboard, are called onboard) is a piece of equipment designed with the purpose of displaying graphics and video in higher resolution then normal use, to offload the data strain and memory strain from the CPU.
Because it’s specialized, we will refer to it as a GPU or graphics processing unit for this conversation. Our casual surfer, isn’t taxing the graphics side of the computer. The movies, you tubing and online graphics are not anywhere near hard or harsh to the system unless it’s an already underpowered system. These things use little memory, and the CPU handles them coupled with the onboard display adapter- no problem, but the aspiring video editor, musician, or graphical designer will need more oomph. And so will the gamer, on whatever level he is on except the very start, he will need a dedicated GPU. When you step into this, know what you’re looking into, because there are stats, and requirements that must be met. First, know the architecture of your unit, like what ports do you have. The communication ports will tell the tale of what card you can get, look up the model number of you unit, or if it’s a custom build, the model of the mobo (motherboard) should be visible, and look up its specs, what you’re looking for is RAM amount (memory) and slot (pci, pci express, agp,). This will tell you what kind of compatible card you can get (i.e. if you have a free pci slot, you can get a pci card) then the software you are trying to run (game or proggy) will have system requirements as well. Match this up with your budget, and go about the business of researching the card you want. Video cards have their own dedicated video memory, so when searching make sure you have adequate RAM to run the game or proggy, if the game requires two GB, make sure you have at least that. The more intensive the proggy, or game, the more it will require. Most proggies or games will have a minimum, and recommended spec. The minimum, will let you run it. Think of it like the bare minimum, the recommended, are the proggy, or game running at the optimal settings, smoothly. Having specs above the recommended simply means you’ll have no issues running it with your setup. Be warned however, getting into dedicated GPU’s can get costly, but the results can be eye blisteringly gorgeous if you have the time or patience. Information is power. You have been armed….. Techsavvy