Graphics Adapter

Commonly known as a video card, a graphics adapter is the part of the computer that controls its graphical display. In modern computers, the graphics adapter is attached to the motherboard through a PCI-e port. This allows the graphics adapter to control the display, as opposed to the CPU. If the CPU were to control the display, it would be overburdened by having to control both that and the computer’s regular functions. By separating the function of producing graphics, the graphics adapter can operate more effectively, and free the CPU to just run the programs you need. Some form of graphics processing is absolutely necessary for a computer to function correctly.

Graphics adapters can vary greatly in their abilities and price. The least expensive graphics adapters are designed to simply display the desktop, pictures, and basic visual programs. They’re able to play videos, but those videos might be slow or they might not look very good, especially on a full-screen display. The very best videos are capable of running complex video games or video editing applications in high definition and across multiple monitors. In between are most video cards, which range between being designed for running basic entertainment, business or gaming applications.

Graphics adapters are often confused with the GPU, or graphics processing unit. A GPU is the part of a graphics adapter that is responsible for accelerating and processing graphical images. In short, all graphics adapters have GPU’s, but most GPU’s are not attached to a graphics card. In most cases, a GPU is integrated into the motherboard. This decreases the maximum power of computer’s display, but is good enough to run basic applications, like pictures, desktops and videos properly. In order to get the most power possible out of a GPU, it needs to be attached to a graphics adapter that fits it properly.

A graphics adapter has a number of parts, which include the GPU, as well as the video memory, video outputs, video BIOS and, for more powerful units, a fan. The most powerful GPU’s use a lot of power, and a fan is needed to keep them from overheating and suffering damage. Video memory separates the RAM that a GPU uses from the system’s overall memory. The amount of memory found on a graphics car usually ranges between 32 Mb (very, very low) and 1 GB. This is much less important than the power of the GPU when it comes to rendering graphics.

Video BIOS is essentially the programming native to the video card that dictates the usage of its power. This can be changed, usually to “overclock” the system (that is, make it over-perform), but this process risks causing massage and irreparable damage to the GPU. The outputs on a video card can vary, but usually include at least a VGA output, which connects to almost every computer monitor. The more advanced adapters usually include at least one of the following outputs: S-video, DVI and/or HDMI. The first can connect to the composite cables found on TV’s, and the latter two offer high-definition digital signals.

The price of a graphics adapter can vary greatly depending on the power it has. The most basic, which are designed for light entertainment applications, usually cost between $50 and $100. The most extreme, which are rarely seen in households, can cost up to $3,000. For gaming or running advanced video applications, the price ranges between $200 and $500 for most users. Some can cost more, but these are for very high-tech programs. For a $500 video card, you’ll be able to run almost any video game on maximum settings, as well as watch movies in the best high-definition quality on a large screen.

This Graphics Adapter Review is Written/Updated on Apr 4th, 2010 and filed under Computer Hardware. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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