Gadget Glossary

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Video Card

A video card is a PC component which generates video output to send to devices like a monitor, project, TV or other such video viewing device.

There are generally two types of video cards; cards that are integrated into the motherboard and those that reside in their own expansion slot in an AGP, PCI or PCI Express slot.

Most enthusiasts prefer the non-integrated type as this allows for the card to be replaced with a new one as technology changes and better cards are introduced.

Up until a few years ago most cards were AGP based. This has changed with the introduction of the PCI Express standard. PCI Express allows for improved performance over the older AGP standard. Most new video cards use the PCI Express bus but many cards can still be purchased that use the AGP bus type.

Video cards are one of the most dynamic components of the modern PC. The technology for video cards evolves at a rapid pace, hence the desire by most gamers to have a non-integrated card.

The video card has evolved to become a computer within a computer. Most video cards have a processor and memory just like a regular computer. However the processor in a video card is called a Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). The GPU is specially constructed to read video rendering instructions and render graphics. The video card’s memory is RAM very much like the RAM in the motherboard however it is usually referred to as Video RAM or VRAM. The main difference between motherboard RAM and VRAM is that VRAM runs at a faster frequency than the motherboard variety.

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