#WhatIs: What Is A Graphics Card

The CPU may be the brain of your PC, but when it comes to gaming, the graphics card is the beating heart that pumps pixels out of your obelisk of a tower and into your monitor.

A graphics card, also known as a video card, is a piece of hardware installed in a computer that is responsible for rendering the image on the computer’s monitor or display screen

 A graphics card consists of dedicated video memory and a graphics processing unit (GPU) that handles all sorts of calculations, like mapping textures and lighting surfaces while rendering millions of polygons. Simply put, the graphics card is the most vital component of your gaming PC.

Think of a computer as a company with its own art department. When people in the company want a piece of artwork, they send a request to the art department. The art department decides how to create the image and then puts it on paper. The end result is that someone’s idea becomes an actual, viewable picture.

Like a motherboard, a graphics card is a printed circuit board that houses a processor and RAM. It also has an input/output system (BIOS) chip, which stores the card’s settings and performs diagnostics on the memory, input and output at startup.

A graphics card’s processor, called a graphics processing unit (GPU), is similar to a computer’s CPU. A GPU, however, is designed specifically for performing the complex mathematical and geometric calculations that are necessary for graphics rendering

 Graphics cards connect to the computer through the motherboard. The motherboard supplies power to the card and lets it communicate with the CPU. Newer graphics cards often require more power than the motherboard can provide, so they also have a direct connection to the computer’s power supply.

Connections to the motherboard are usually through one of three interface Peripheral component interconnect (PCI),Advanced graphics port (AGP)PCI Express (PCIe)PCI Express is the newest of the three and provides the fastest transfer rates between the graphics card and the motherboard. PCIe also supports the use of two graphics cards in the same computer.

­Most graphics cards have two monitor connections. Often, one is a DVI connector, which supports LCD screens, and the other is a VGA connector, which supports CRT screens. Some graphics cards have two DVI connectors instead. But that doesn’t rule out using a CRT screen; CRT screens can connect to DVI ports through an adapter.

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