Graphics Cards demystified

What is a Graphics Card?

A graphics card is an optional component in a modern-day computer. Sometimes referred to as a GPU, or graphics processing unit, it is responsible for displaying graphics on a monitor or screen which are generated by a computer. Although modern-day processors often have a GPU built into them, allowing monitors to plug directly into a motherboard, almost every computer that is built for playing modern video games will have a graphics card.

While you don’t need a powerful graphics card for simple games like bingo, if you want to play any new title, you will almost always require the additional processing power of a graphics card. This is because modern processors are exceptional at performing many different types of tasks at once, and are responsible for managing a high number of processes which are continually happening in the background of any computer. But it is due to this that they are actually not very good at processing graphics. Modern graphical displaying techniques almost always revolve around turning a 3D scene into a 2D image that is displayed on a monitor; this is commonly done by calculating what the camera would see, by knowing the position of the camera, as well as the location of the objects in a particular scene. This involves several mathematical calculations that have to be performed, and while this can be calculated by a processor, a graphics card that is specifically built to perform these types of calculations can do so many times faster.

One of the main reasons that the calculations can be done faster by a GPU is due to the number of processes which can be performed simultaneously, and this is where the graphics card’s strength lies. It is due to this strength that they have also seen heavy use for ‘mining’ cryptocurrencies, as that also relies on being able to perform calculations as quickly as possible.

Graphics Card Manufacturers

Today there are two large producers of graphics cards, Nvidia and AMD. Both of these companies are in constant competition with each other to conquer specific market spaces, with the three most common battlegrounds being the consumer gaming space, the workstation market, and the datacentre space. Although many consumers find that Nvidia tends to make the best top-tier graphics cards, AMD typically tends to make graphics cards that represent better value for money. Although it is often impossible to tell what kind of graphics card is inside a machine just by playing games alone, it has been demonstrated by several media outlets that certain games are more optimised to run on a particular manufacturer’s hardware. Whichever vendor a customer is going to choose, it is essential for them to buy a graphics card that will enable them to play the type of games that they wish to.