Low Profile Video Card

In the early days of computing, buyers were usually not concerned about the type of video card inside a computer. It was all about the power of the central processor or the size of the hard drive, or even the number of keys on the keyboard. But thanks to the growing popularity of video games, the video card is now often regarded as the most important part of a computer. Without the latest model, there is little chance that you will be able to play the latest video games. They are simply too demanding for the central processor to cope with on its own, and the computer memory is too slow to handle all the graphics.

The role of the video card is to boost the graphical processing power of a computer. By taking over most of that work, it frees the main processor to do other tasks, like crunching numbers. A video card is essential if you want to play the latest computer games or perform complex graphical work, like computer aided design (CAD). A low profile video card is half the height of a regular card, allowing it to fit inside a slimline computer case. Unfortunately, the reduction in height usually results in a reduction in performance. To make matters worse, there are not many low profile models available, which makes choosing the right one rather difficult.

Slimline computer cases save desk space and look attractive, but upgrading the components inside one can be a real problem. Regular expansion cards are too tall to fit inside a slimline case, unless it has a riser card and regular sized slots. The only option in that case is to use low profile expansion cards. However, every square inch of space on a regular video card is filled with components, such as the memory chips which take up half the space. It is impossible to shrink them down so that they all fit on a half-size card. Some components must be left off in the process and that results in a loss of performance.

So what good is a low profile video card if it has reduced performance? For many computing tasks, graphics are not of critical importance. Writing letters, checking email, browsing websites, and editing spreadsheets require almost no effort on the part of the video card. Many office workers are given slimline computers to save desk space, but also because they only need it for simple tasks. A computer that is setup to play movies on a home theater system does not need a powerful video card, and the computer inside an automatic teller machines or information kiosk has no need for one either. Their graphical displays are simple and have no three-dimensional effects which burden the processor.

Just as there are rules that define the size of a regular video card, there are also rules that apply to a low profile video card. Even the size of the bracket on the end is governed by these rules. The main difference between the two types of expansion card is their height. You can easily spot a low profile card because it is half as tall as a regular card. It might have a regular bracket with a plug connected by ribbon cable, or it might have a low profile bracket that is the same height as the card. A low profile card with a regular bracket will fit inside a regular computer case, but the bracket may need to be changed before the card will fit into a slimline case.

Unless you have a slimline computer case with no riser card, there is probably not much point in buying a low profile video card instead of a regular one. While it’s true that low profile cards improve airflow inside the case, a small increase in cooling is not worth the huge loss in performance for a video card. A better option is to upgrade to a larger case or even trade in your computer for a laptop. Slimline computers are still widely used by business and government, but they have fallen behind other computers in the home and small office markets.

This Low Profile Video Card Review is Written/Updated on Apr 24th, 2011 and filed under Computer Hardware. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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