graphics card features, characteristics, types

Graphics Card Features, Characteristics, Types

Graphics card Types: All Types of GPU Used

Graphics card Types

Connection

The interface through which the video card is connected to the computer’s motherboard.

In fact, the standard interface for modern graphics cards is PCI-E (PCI-Express of various versions: PCI-E v2.0, PCI-E v3.0, PCI-E v4.0); nowadays, it has almost completely replaced the outdated AGP and “regular” PCI. 

Modern components can provide different versions and a different number of PCI-E lines; for video cards, the rules for compatibility with motherboards are as follows:

  • The number of PCI-E lines in the “motherboard” slot must be no less than the number of video card lines. That is, for example, a video adapter with PCI-E x8 can be connected to the PCI-E x16 slot, but not vice versa. In general, when choosing components, it is most reasonable to proceed from the fact that you need a x16 slot for connection: this is the maximum number of lines found in motherboard slots, and this is the number provided in most modern video cards, otherwise it would be impossible to achieve the required bandwidth.
  • A video card of an earlier PCI-E version can be connected to a slot of a later version, but the opposite option is most often impossible (with rare exceptions – PCI-E v2.1 video adapters can work on some cards with v2.0 slots, but this feature is worth specify separately).

Professional

This category includes video cards specifically designed for advanced graphics workstations and designed to work with resource-intensive tasks such as 3D rendering. Such models have corresponding characteristics – although they may differ significantly from one card to another, almost everything can be attributed to the top class. Separately, it should be noted that, despite the high power, professional cards are not intended for gaming, and purchasing such a model for a gaming station is at least unjustified.

Read out Workstation GPU Vs Gaming GPU.

External

Video cards are made as separate devices and intended for installation outside the computer case. Such solutions are intended mainly for laptops – in particular, compact ultrabooks, in which, due to the small thickness of the case, it is difficult to use powerful internal video cards. At the same time, modern “notebook” graphics are quite capable of coping not only with everyday tasks, but also with many games. Therefore, it makes sense to pay attention to external video cards, first of all, for advanced gamers, for whom maximum performance on the latest games is important.

Note that to connect such a device, you will need a high-speed interface for example, Thunderbolt 3.

Designed for mining

Video cards specially designed for cryptocurrency mining (Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc.). In this case, it means not just a theoretical possibility to use a video card for mining (many “ordinary” video cards have such an opportunity ), but an optimized design, originally developed taking into account the specifics of the process. Some of these models may be intended only for mining and have no video outputs at all.

Mining is the process of “mining” a cryptocurrency by performing special calculations. The technical features of the process are such that in order to achieve maximum efficiency, it is necessary to parallelize the calculations as much as possible. It is thanks to this that video cards turned out to be very convenient for mining: the number of individual cores (and, accordingly, parallel computations) in modern GPUs is in the hundreds. Initially, such an application was abnormal, and various tricks had to be resorted to transfer the video card to mining mode; however, in light of the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies, many manufacturers have begun to produce video adapters specifically designed for this application.

LHR (low hash rate)

Hardware-protected video cards from mining. The term Low Hash Rate was coined by NVIDIA to discourage cryptocurrency miners from video cards and return the favor of the computer gamer audience. There are LHR versions of video cards only among the generation of the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3000 series. Early GeForce GPUs have no factory mining limits, as do all old and new AMD Radeon GPUs. However, among the GeForce RTX 3000 series, there are video cards without LHR.

GPU Model

A GPU is a type of processor designed to process graphics and determines the fundamental performance characteristics of a video adapter. Today there are two main GPU manufacturers  AMD and NVIDIA; other companies create video cards based on chips from these companies.

The main graphics processors from AMD in our time: 

Radeon RX 4xx (“400 series”), Radeon RX 550 , Radeon RX 560 , Radeon RX 570 , Radeon RX 580 , Radeon RX 590 , Radeon RX 5500 XT , Radeon RX 5600 XT , Radeon RX 5700 , Radeon RX 5700 XT, Radeon RX 6600 XT , Radeon RX 6700 XT , Radeon RX 6800 , Radeon RX 6800 XT , Radeon RX 6900 XT , Radeon RX Vega 56 , Radeon RX Vega 64 , AMD Radeon VII and professional FirePro . 

Video cards based on NVIDIA chips can have the following GPUs: 

GeForce GT 710 , GeForce GT 730 , GeForce GT 1030 , GeForce GTX 1050 , GeForce GTX 1050 Ti , GeForce GTX 1060 , GeForce GTX 1070 , GeForce GTX 1070 Ti , GeForce GTX 1080, GeForce GTX 1080 Ti , GeForce GTX 1650 ( SUPER ), GeForce GTX 1660 ( SUPER ), GeForce GTX 1660 Ti , GeForce RTX 2060 , GeForce RTX 2070 , GeForce RTX 2080 , GeForce RTX 2080 Ti , GeForce RTX 3060 , GeForce RTX 3060 Ti , GeForce RTX 3070 , GeForce RTX 3070 Ti , GeForce RTX 3080 , GeForce RTX 3080 Ti , GeForce RTX 3090 , P104-100 , as well as professional Quadro and NVS and RTX SUPER graphics cards – GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER, GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER , GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER (followers of RTX video cards).

Check guides on

Graphics Card Features and Characteristics: GPU specifications explained

Knowing the GPU model, you can find detailed data on it (special characteristics, reviews, previews, etc.) and evaluate how this board is suitable for your purposes. It should be noted that in third-party video cards, the characteristics of the GPU may differ slightly from the standard ones (and often in the direction of acceleration and improvement).

Graphics Card Features and Characteristics

Memory

The amount of own memory of the GPU; this parameter is sometimes called the amount of video card memory. The larger the amount of GPU memory, the more complex and detailed a picture it is able to process over a period of time, and, consequently, the higher its performance and speed (which is especially important for resource-intensive tasks like high-end games, video editing, 3D rendering, etc.) ).

When choosing, it should be borne in mind that the performance of a video card is influenced not only by the amount of memory but also by its type, operating frequency (see below), and other features. Therefore, it is quite possible that a model with less memory will be more advanced and expensive than a larger one. And one can unambiguously compare with each other only variants that are similar in other characteristics of memory.

In the modern market, there are mainly video cards with memory capacities of 1 GB, 2 GB, 3 GB, 4 GB, 6 GB, 8 GB, and in the most advanced models 11 GB and even more, can be installed.

Memory types of GPU

The type of graphics memory used in the video card (see GPU Memory Size). Today the following types of memory are used:

– DDR3. General-purpose random access memory that is not specialized for graphics processing and was originally created for use in general system RAM. However, due to good performance and relatively low cost, it has recently been used in video cards (albeit mostly at a budget level).

DDR4. Further, after DDR3, the development of general-purpose RAM. Specifically, in video cards, it is extremely rare, due to the prevalence of more advanced specialized standards.

GDDR2. The second generation of Double Data-Rate memory. In fact, it is a modification of DDR2 RAM, optimized for use in video cards; just like the original DDR2, it provides 4 data transfer operations per clock (original DDR – 2 operations). It was not widely used due to the tendency to strong heating during operation.

– GDDR3. An improved version of GDDR2 (see above). It has a higher effective frequency (as a result of performance), while being distinguished by lower heat dissipation. Some time ago it enjoyed considerable popularity, now it is gradually becoming obsolete…

See also DDR3 Vs GDDR5

Bus width

The amount of data (bits) that can be transferred over the memory bus of the video card in one cycle. The performance of the video card directly depends on the width of the bus: the higher the bit depth, the more data the bus transmits per unit of time and, accordingly, the faster the video memory works.

The minimum bit depth for modern video cards is actually 128 bits, this figure is typical mainly for budget models. In mid-level solutions, there are indicators of 192 bits and 256 bits, and in advanced models 352 bits, 384 bits, and more, up to 2048 bits.

GPU frequency

The frequency of the graphics processor of the video card. As a general rule, the higher the frequency of the GPU, the higher the performance of the video card, but this parameter is not the only one – much also depends on the design features of the video card, in particular, the type and amount of video memory (see the corresponding paragraphs of the glossary). As a result, it is not unusual for a model with a lower processor frequency to be more productive out of two video cards. In addition, it should be noted that high-frequency processors also have a high heat dissipation, which requires the use of powerful cooling systems.

Check Processor And Graphics Card Compatibility.

Memory frequency

The frequency of operation of the memory installed on the video card is the maximum number of operations for receiving or transmitting data per unit of time performed by the memory module. Usually expressed in megahertz, i.e. Millions of operations per second; the higher this figure, the higher the overall performance of the video card, all other things being equal. On the other hand, memory is faster and more expensive.

Technical process

The technical process by which the video card’s own processor is made.

This parameter is specified by the size of each individual transistor used in the processor. At the same time, the smaller this size, the more perfect the technical process is considered: reducing individual elements allows you to reduce heat generation, reduce the overall size of the processor and at the same time increase its performance. Accordingly, in our time, manufacturers are trying to move towards reducing the technical process, and the newer the video card, the smaller the numbers in this paragraph can be.

Number of cores

The number of processor cores provided for in the design of the video card; is indicated only for models where this indicator is more than 1.

Note that the term “core” in this case does not mean a part of the processor, but the entire graphics processor as a whole. Thus, having multiple cores means that the video card is equipped with several separate GPUs. This design is used to increase processing power. On the other hand, it significantly affects the cost of the video adapter, while even with one GPU you can achieve very impressive performance. Therefore, very few multiprocessor video cards are produced nowadays.

Max. permission

The maximum resolution is supported by the video card – that is, the largest image size (in pixels) that it can display on an external screen.

The higher the resolution, the clearer and better the picture is. On the other hand, with an increase in the number of pixels, the requirements for computing power and, accordingly, the cost of a video card increase. In addition, do not forget that you can only appreciate the benefits of high resolutions on monitors with the appropriate specifications. On the other hand, in the graphics settings, you can set and lower resolutions than the maximum; and good headroom in resolution also means a good headroom in overall performance.

As for specific values, the actual minimum for modern video cards is 1600×1200, but much more often there are higher indicators up to Ultra HD 4K and Ultra HD 8K.

Passmark G3D Mark test

The result was shown by the video card in the Passmark G3D Mark.

Benchmarks allow you to evaluate the actual capabilities (primarily the overall performance) of the video card. This is especially convenient in light of the fact that adapters with similar characteristics in practice can differ noticeably in capabilities (for example, due to the difference in the quality of optimization of individual components for joint work). And the Passmark G3D Mark is the most popular benchmark for graphics cards these days. The results of this test are reported in points, with more points corresponding to better performance. As of mid-2020, the number of points scored in the most advanced video cards can exceed 17,000.

Note that Passmark G3D Mark is used not only for general performance evaluation but also for determining the compatibility of a video card with a specific processor. The CPU and graphics adapter must be approximately equal in terms of the overall level of processing power, otherwise, one component will “pull back” the other: for example, a weak processor will not allow the full potential of a powerful gaming video card to be unleashed. To search for a video adapter for a specific CPU model, you can use the list “Optimal for AMD processors” or “Optimal for Intel processors” in the selection of our catalog.

VGA

The number of VGA outputs is provided in the video card. However, there is rarely more than one such connector.

VGA is an analog interface for outputting video signals to an external display. It was originally developed for CRT monitors and is now considered obsolete (in particular, due to its low bandwidth). However, the VGA output can still be useful for connecting some models of monitors, TVs, and even projectors. The bandwidth of this interface allows you to transfer video with a resolution of up to 1280×1024; technically, more is possible, however, due to the analog signal format with increasing resolution, the overall quality of the “picture” is noticeably reduced.

DVI-D

The number of DVI-D outputs is provided in the video card.

The DVI-D interface provides digital video transmission. Depending on the version, the maximum resolution of such a video can be 1920×1200 (Single-Link) or 2560×1600 (Dual-Link); the specific version used usually depends on the general purpose and price point of the video card. However, in any case, this interface is very popular in modern monitors, but almost never occurs on other screens.

The presence of multiple outputs allows you to connect several screens to the video card at the same time – for example, a pair of monitors to organize an extended workspace. Specifically, up to 4 DVI-D outputs can be provided.

DVI-I

The number of DVI-I outputs is provided in the video card.

DVI-I is a combined standard that allows both digital and analog video to be transmitted. The “digital part” of such an interface is similar to DVI-D, it can be executed in the Single Link or Dual Link version and support resolutions up to 1920×1200 or 2560×1600, respectively. The “analog part” corresponds to VGA in its capabilities: it supports resolutions up to 1280×1024, and a VGA-screen can be connected to the DVI-I output through a simple adapter.

The presence of multiple outputs allows you to connect several screens to the video card at the same time – for example, a pair of monitors to organize an extended workspace. Modern video cards can have up to 3 DVI-I connectors.

HDMI

The number of HDMI outputs is provided in the video card. HDMI is the most popular interface for high-definition picture and multi-channel audio

today (it can be used simultaneously for video and audio). Such a connector is almost standard for modern monitors, in addition, it is widely used in other types of screens – televisions, plasma panels, projectors, etc. The presence of multiple outputs allows you to connect several screens to the video card at the same time – for example, a pair of monitors to organize an extended workspace. However, there are no more than 2 HDMI ports in video cards – for a number of reasons for several screens at once, in this case, it is easier to use other connectors, primarily DisplayPort.

latest hdmi version

The HDMI version is supported by the graphics card. For more details about HDMI itself, see above, and its versions can be as follows:

v.1.4. The earliest HDMI standard found in video cards; was introduced in 2009. Despite its “venerable age”, it has good features: it supports 4K video (4096×2160) at a frame rate of 24 fps, Full HD (1920×1080) at a frame rate of up to 120 fps, and is also suitable for transferring 3D video.

v.1.4b. The second improvement of v.1.4 is described above. The first update, v.1.4a, introduced support for two additional 3D video formats; and in HDMI v.1.4b, mostly minor improvements and additions to the v 1.4a specifications were implemented, almost imperceptible for an ordinary user.

v.2.0. The standard was introduced in 2013 to replace HDMI v.1.4. With full 4K support (up to 60fps), it is also known as HDMI UHD. In addition, the bandwidth is enough for the simultaneous transmission of up to 32 audio tracks and up to 4 separate audio streams, and the list of supported frame formats has been replenished with an ultra-wide 21: 9.

v.2.0b. The second update to the HDMI 2.0 standard described above, featuring HDR support. However, HDR compatibility itself appeared in the first update, v.2.0a; and in version 2.0b the ability to work with HDR10 and HLG standards was added.

v.2.1. The newest common HDMI standard, released in 2017. Capable of providing frequency…

miniHDMI

The number of mini HDMI outputs is provided in the video card.

This interface is a smaller version of the popular HDMI: it has the same capabilities (high-definition video and multichannel audio transmission) and differs only in a more compact connector. Among computer video cards, mini HDMI is quite rare, mainly as a forced measure, if the design does not allow for a full-size HDMI port. Moreover, there is almost never more than one such connector.

DisplayPort

The number of DisplayPort outputs provided on the graphics card.

DisplayPort is a digital multimedia interface, much like HDMI, but used primarily in computer technology. The specific capabilities of this interface depend on the version (see below), however, even in the most modest modern version, DisplayPort allows at least 4K resolution at 60 fps and 5K – at 30 fps. Another interesting feature of this standard is the ability to daisy chain multiple screens to one port (daisy chain format).

In light of the latter, we can say that the number of DisplayPort outputs corresponds to the number of screens that can be connected directly to the video card, without using a daisy chain. This connection may be required, in particular, for monitors that do not support daisy-chain operation. If this mode is supported, the maximum number of screens will be at least twice as high as the number of connectors. However, it should be borne in mind that the resolutions supported by the video adapter itself may not reach the maximum capabilities of the DisplayPort version used.

DisplayPort version

The version of the DisplayPort and/or mini-DisplayPort used by the graphics card. For the interfaces themselves, see the corresponding help clauses; here we recall that they differ only in the type of plug. So the list of versions for both cases is the same, it looks like this:

– v 1.2. Earliest widely used version (2010). However, already in this version, 3D compatibility and daisy chain mode appeared. The maximum fully supported resolution when connecting one monitor is 5K (30 fps), with certain restrictions, transmission up to 8K is possible; 60 Hz frame rate is supported up to 3840×2160 resolution, and 120 Hz – up to 2560×1600. And when using the daisy chain, you can simultaneously connect up to 2 2560×1600 screens at 60 frames per second or up to 4 1920×1200 screens. In addition to the original version 1.2, there is an improved v 1.2a, the main innovation of which is support for AMD FreeSync, a technology used in AMD video cards to synchronize the refresh rate of the monitor with the actual frame rate at the output of the video adapter.

– v 1.3. The update was introduced in 2014. The increased bandwidth made it possible to provide for the already full, without restrictions, support for 8K at 30 fps, as well as transmit 4K images at 120 fps, sufficient for working with 3D. Daisy chain resolutions have also increased up to 4K (3840×2160) at 60 fps for two screens and 2560×1600 at the same frame rate for four. 

miniDisplayPort

The number of mini DisplayPort outputs is provided in the video card.

This interface is a smaller version of DisplayPort, differing from the original only in the shape and dimensions of the connector. The rest of the characteristics are identical; they directly depend on the version (see “DisplayPort version”), but even the most modest miniDisplayPort output nowadays allows you to fully work with 4K resolution on a single screen, as well as connect several displays in a daisy chain. And thanks to its compact size, even in a low-profile video card for 1 slot, you can install up to 4 such connectors at once. On the other hand, such a feature is not so often required in practice, since in most cases 1, maximum 2 outputs from the DisplayPort family are enough; at the same time, we note that it is more convenient to make such outlets (for a number of reasons) full-sized.

USB C

The number of USB Type C outputs is provided in the video card.

Note that USB Type C is only a physical connector type; specific ways of using it may be different, they should be clarified separately. However, most video cards with this feature have VR support (see below), and this connector is used in them just to connect glasses and virtual reality helmets. Somewhat less common is another application – connecting monitors via the Thunderbolt v3 interface: this version uses a Type C hardware connector. In either case, only one output of this type is usually provided – this is quite enough.

Mini-DIN

The presence of a mini-DIN port on the video card.

The original mini-DIN connector has a round shape with a number of pins (pins) from 3 to 9. In video cards, the most common “4-pin” or “7-pin” mini-DIN; both are designed for S-Video transmission. It is an analog format used for standard-definition video (not suitable for HD), but at the same time capable of providing higher image quality than composite. It is mainly used in television and video equipment; the presence of a mini-DIN port is useful if you plan to connect a TV to your computer.

DMS-59

A specific video interface specially designed for connecting two monitors through one connector (even the letter D in the name means “Dual”). The connector itself looks like DVI but differs from it both in size and design. The signal through it can be transmitted in DVI Single Link (digital) or VGA (analog) formats. Connection to DMS-59 is carried out through an adapter in the form of a splitter cable with two VGA or DVI plugs at the end.

The main advantage of the DMS-59 is that it can be used even in low-profile graphics adapters, which allows such models to support the connection of two high-resolution monitors at the same time. And a video card of standard height fits two of these connectors, which allows you to connect 4 mentioned monitors at the same time. In general, this interface belongs to the professional one, its presence is typical mainly for video cards of the corresponding level.

DirectX version

The latest version of DirectX is supported by the graphics card.

DirectX is a set of software tools for Windows that provides interaction between programs and hardware components of the system, incl. video card. In fact, the existence of DirectX saves developers from having to write versions of programs for each specific system configuration: if a program is compatible with DirectX, it will work correctly on any system with the corresponding version of DirectX (or later) installed.

The more recent version of DirectX the video card can support, the wider its capabilities are. This is especially true for the processing of complex graphics and special effects, in particular in games. At the same time, a game optimized for a later version of DirectX may well run with an earlier version, but the full set of video effects will not be available to the user.

For today, the newest version is DirectX 12, it is supported by most modern video cards. At the same time, we note that this version is also compatible with graphics adapters originally designed for Direct X 11 – perhaps not all functions will be available in such cases.

Check guide Does My Graphics Card Support Directx 12?

OpenGL version

The latest version of OpenGL is supported by the graphics card. OpenGL is a computer graphics standard, incl. three-dimensional. At one time it was widely used in games, but now DirectX is being increasingly supplanted, as a result of which the main area of ​​application of OpenGL today is specialized graphics software. The newest modern version of OpenGL is 4.6; it was released in 2017, and its full support in video cards of the largest brands was introduced in 2018 – 2019.

VR support

Video card support for virtual reality technologies, in other words, the ability to work with virtual reality glasses.

These glasses provide a change in the image in the eyepieces when turning and tilting the head, thus creating an immersive effect. One of the features of virtual reality is the requirement for graphic performance: for example, the frame rate for the normal perception of the picture must be at least 90 frames/sec. In addition, VR mode often uses special technologies designed to provide a comfortable experience (and also demanding processing power).

All these points are taken into account in video cards with VR support. Note that the degree of compatibility with a specific virtual reality headset may be different, this point should be clarified separately; however, in order to work properly with VR, in any case, you need a graphics card in which this capability is expressly stated. In addition, such models will be useful for content developers for virtual reality.

Stream Processors

The number of stream processors provided in the video card.

A stream processor is a separate part of the GPU that is designed to execute one shader at a time. Shaders, in turn, are small programs that are responsible for creating individual graphic effects (for example, surface gloss, glare on the water surface, motion blur effect, etc.). Accordingly, the more stream processors are provided in the design, the more shaders a video card can simultaneously execute and the higher its processing power. However, in general, this is a rather specific parameter, which is relevant mainly for professional developers, modders, and enthusiastic gamers.

Stream Processor Version

The version of the stream processors used in the graphics card.

For details on the processors themselves, see the corresponding paragraph above. And the version data is auxiliary information; it is sometimes necessary for some specific tasks such as the development of special software, but ordinary users and even advanced enthusiasts are rarely required. Detailed information about this parameter can be found in special sources.

Texture blocks

The number of texture units contained in the GPU.

As the name suggests, such blocks are responsible for working with textures. Texture, in turn, is one of the main elements of 3D graphics: an image applied to the surface of a three-dimensional object (similar to how, for example, wallpaper is glued to a wall or a label is applied to a box). The specific purpose of texture units is to select textures and apply them to the surface of geometric objects. All other things being equal, more such blocks mean better graphics performance; although in general this is a rather specific parameter, intended mainly for specialists and extremely rarely needed by ordinary users.

Max. connected monitors

The maximum number of monitors that can be simultaneously connected to the video card and shared.

Simultaneous connection of several screens allows you to expand the visual space available to the user. For example, it can be useful for designers and layout designers when working with large-format materials, for programmers – for separating tasks (one monitor for writing code, the other for finding the necessary information and other auxiliary purposes), and for gamers-enthusiasts – to ensure maximum immersion effect. Due to the development of technology in our time, even inexpensive video cards are usually able to work with at least three monitors, and advanced models can support four screens or more.

CrossFire / SLI support

Video card support for CrossFire or SLI technology.

CrossFire and SLI are developed by ATI and Nvidia, respectively, which allow using two video cards on one computer. Their capacities are combined to achieve high graphics performance of the system. This implies integration at the hardware level, with the connection of video cards using special connectors – “bridges”.

It makes sense to install two video cards on high-performance computers designed to work with “heavy” graphics – for example, advanced gaming PCs or workstations used for 3D rendering. To use CrossFire / SLI, the corresponding technology must be supported not only by the installed video cards but also by the motherboard; to install video cards, you need PCI-E slots of the same version. The video cards themselves in the case of SLI must be completely the same; CrossFire requirements are a little softer – in this case, you need at least one of them to belong to the ATI CrossFire Edition family.

Motherboard GPU Compatibility

GPU Cooling

– Active cooling. In this case, forced air cooling is called active – that is, cooling due to the outside air supplied by the cooler. The role of a cooler can be played either by a classic fan with a radiator or by a closed case, into which air is forced through a special turbine (“blower”). The body version is typical for high-end models; it is rather complicated and expensive, but very effective, besides, hot air is usually removed not just from the video card case, but outside the system unit, and does not affect the rest of the system components. In general, active cooling (of all types) provides a good balance of characteristics: it turns out to be noticeably cheaper and easier to install than water systems, and at the same time, it is much more efficient than passive radiators.

– PassiveCooling. Passive cooling systems are called cooling systems in which heat is dissipated in a natural way, without additional blowing or forced circulation of the liquid. The radiators used in such systems are shaped like ribbed metal plates – this shape increases the efficiency of heat dissipation. To further increase efficiency, radiators can be supplemented with heat pipes – closed pipes through which the coolant naturally moves. The main advantage of passive counting systems…

Number of fans

The number of individual fans provided in the video card cooling system (if any – see “Cooling”).

In general, the more powerful the video adapter, the more efficient cooling it needs. So one fan is typical mainly for entry-level and low-cost mid-range devices, two for mid-range to advanced devices, and three or more are an almost unambiguous sign of a premium solution. At the same time, there is no strict dependence here, and models with similar characteristics may have a different number of fans (especially since the cooling efficiency is determined not only by the number of fans but also by their diameter). But what this parameter affects unambiguously is the length of the video card and, accordingly, the amount of space required to install it.

Backlight

The video card has a backlight system. This feature gives the board an original look, which is especially appreciated by gamers and fans of external PC modding. The backlight may have a different color, in some models this color may even change. At the same time, it should be borne in mind that this feature does not affect the functionality of the video card, but significantly affects the cost. So it’s worth looking specifically for a backlit graphics card only in cases where an unusual design is no less important to you than performance. It should also be borne in mind that such adapters must be installed in the appropriate housings – open or with a viewing window, otherwise, the backlight will simply not be visible.

Backlight sync

Backlight synchronization technology is provided in a graphics card with a corresponding design.

By itself, synchronization allows you to “match” the backlight of the video card with the backlight of other system components – the motherboard, case, keyboard, mouse, etc. Thanks to this coordination, all components can change color synchronously, simultaneously turn on / off, etc. Specific features the operation of such a backlight depends on the used synchronization technology, and, as a rule, each manufacturer has its own (Mystic Light Sync from MSI, RGB Fusion from Gigabyte, etc.). Also, the compatibility of components depends on this: they must all support the same technology. So the easiest way to achieve backlight compatibility is by assembling components from one manufacturer.

Power consumption

Maximum power consumption of the video card during operation. This parameter is important for calculating the total power consumed by the entire system and selecting a power supply that provides the appropriate power.

Additional food

The format of the additional power supply required for the operation of the video card.

The PCI-E connector itself, which is commonly used to connect video cards, delivers 75W of power. For many models, even quite productive ones, this is quite enough, and many modern video adapters do without an additional power supply. However, more widespread, especially among high-end solutions, are still models with additional power supply.

The simplest version of such a power supply is one 6-pin or 8-pin connector… The 6-pin connector can additionally provide up to 75W, the 8-pin up to 150W. However, for high-end solutions, one connector is not enough, so there are models with power supplies in the 6 + 8 pin, 8 + 8 pin, and even 8 + 8 + 6 pin or 8 + 8 + 8 pin formats.

Note that it is theoretically possible to connect a 6-pin power supply to an 8-pin connector and vice versa; for this, appropriate adapters are even produced. However, in practice, the possibility of such a connection should be clarified separately, and such tricks should be used only in extreme cases when other options are not available.

The smallest power supply unit is recommended for the computer with this video card.

This parameter, as a rule, is significantly higher than the power consumption of the video card itself. This is natural – after all, the power supply unit must provide electricity to the entire system, not only the video adapter. At the same time, the higher the power of the video card, the inevitably the higher the power consumption of the PC as a whole. And this is due not only to the “gluttony” of the graphics adapter itself but also to the consumption of the rest of the PC components: a high-end video card, as a rule, is combined with an equally powerful (and energy-intensive) system.

With this in mind, manufacturers indicate the minimum recommended power supply unit. Of course, such recommendations are optional; however, when using a power supply unit with a power lower than the recommended one, the likelihood of failures in operation increases significantly – to the point that even a very modest system may simply “not start”.

Occupied slots

The number of slots occupied by the video card on the back of the system unit.

This indicator allows you to estimate the amount of space required to install a video adapter. It is relevant in light of the fact that modern video cards can have a fairly extensive set of connectors, and for this set, there is often not enough standard LAN for 1 slot. This is especially true for powerful performance models. In light of this, many solutions, especially the mid-range and top-end ones, occupy two or even three slots at once.

Separately, it is worth touching on models for which a fractional number of slots is indicated in the characteristics – usually 2.5 or 2.7. This detail is provided by the manufacturer for advertising purposes – as a confirmation that the video card is smaller than a full-fledged 3-slot solution. However, in practice, there is no difference between these options: adapters for 2.5 or 2.7 slots still overlap the third slot (albeit partially), making it unusable.

Low profile

This category includes video cards that have a reduced height and are suitable for installation in compact cases that are compatible only with low-profile components. 

Typically models of this type are supplied with interchangeable straps for compact and full-size cases. At the same time, the performance of low-profile models is generally lower than that of similarly priced regular-size options. Therefore, it is worth looking specifically for such a card only when compactness is a decisive factor.

Graphics card length

The total length of the video card.

Length in this case means the size of the device from the plate with connectors (which is attached to the back of the system unit) to the opposite side. The plate itself and the outwardly protruding connectors are usually not taken into account.

Data on the length of a video card is necessary primarily in order to assess whether there is enough space for it in a particular case. In addition, longer boards, as a rule, have more advanced characteristics (although there is no hard dependence here, and video adapters of a similar class can have different lengths). With regard to specific values, the most compact solutions in our time have a size of 150 – 200 mm and less; indicators in 200 – 250 mm can still be considered relatively small, 250 – 290 mm medium and many models (mostly advanced) have a length of more than 290 mm.