A graphics card is a video display card that can produce images on a monitor, television, or other type of display. It takes the data that has been processed by your computer’s central processing unit and converts it into an image you can see. Graphics cards are also called “video cards” because they are used to create moving pictures for videos. These days, most computers have at least one graphics card in them. The video adapter circuit board found inside the computer case sometimes includes integrated circuitry so it can function as both a graphics adapter and sound card.
- What Does A Graphics Card Do?
- Manage and display 3D images:
- Manage and display traditional 2D images:
- Processing of graphics related algorithms, known as rendering techniques:
- Up-scaling the image from a lower resolution to a higher one (like scaling up an image from 640×480 to 1920×1080):
- Provide realistic lighting effects in games with illumination mapping or per-pixel dynamic lighting for textures for example:
- Use 3D models in games/simulations:
- Play videos with DirectX Video Acceleration, accelerating-, H.264- & MPEG-4 part 2 decoding:
- Speeding up file compression with Quick Sync Video technology:
- Reacting quickly to user inputs/requests:
- Transcoding, streaming and playing of audio and video files with DirectX Media Object decoder:
- Processing of the data from multiple graphics cards
- Provide support for multiple monitors
- Creating and displaying of 3D worlds
- 3D modeling, rendering and painting via specialized software
- Provide various functions that are useful to the operating system itself
What Does A Graphics Card Do?
Let discuss all the work graphics cards do on Computer, laptops, and other devices.
Manage and display 3D images:
A graphics card in your computer can help you view 3D objects in games and other applications. This type of data must be rapidly processed by the video adapter to render each scene in a game or other application, which requires much more processing power than that required for 2D images. Without a good graphics card, computers would not have been able to display 3D images on a monitor or TV screen at all.
Manage and display traditional 2D images:
A graphics card can also manage 2D images. It takes the data that has been processed by your computer’s central processing unit and converts it into an image you can see on your monitor. This is why rendering time (the length of time it takes for your video card to process the information) is sometimes referred to as “frame rate”—the higher the number, the better quality of animation or other imagery you will be able to view while using your computer.
Here is detailed answer to How To Calculate Hashrate Of GPU?
Processing of graphics related algorithms, known as rendering techniques:
When you play a video game, the screen is divided into thousands of tiny blocks or tiles that are sent out to display adapters in your computer. These rendering techniques will determine how each block changes, based on the action taking place in each scene. For example, when an enemy character moves across your field of view, all of the other objects around it will have to be shifted accordingly.
Up-scaling the image from a lower resolution to a higher one (like scaling up an image from 640×480 to 1920×1080):
A graphics card can also up-scale, or enlarge the size of an image to a higher resolution. This allows you to use your computer’s video card as an image scaler. For example, if you have a good graphics card installed in your desktop computer and it has dual monitor capabilities, you can configure your Windows system so it will use your computer’s graphics card to up-scale images from your laptop or tablet and display them on your desktop monitor.
Provide realistic lighting effects in games with illumination mapping or per-pixel dynamic lighting for textures for example:
Some graphics cards are able to manage realistic lighting effects. This is known as per-pixel dynamic lighting for textures, or illumination mapping. It causes different parts of an object’s texture to reflect light in a more realistic way based on the type of surface it is sitting on and where the light sources are originating from. For example, when you are playing a game with this type of graphics card enabled, you may see the sun’s rays streaming in through a window or skylight and lighting up an object sitting on top of a table. This is possible because the video card is handling all of the calculations needed to create these light effects—all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the show.
Use 3D models in games/simulations:
Use 3D models in games/simulations which can be used to manage shadows on objects that are rendered into a scene for example: 3D models can also be used in games/simulations. For example, when you are playing a game with 3D graphics, once the scene has been rendered by your computer’s central processing unit, it will send all of the data for this scene to your video card. The video card will then use its own processor to manage and display all of the objects in the scene. For example, if you are playing a game and you notice that some distant mountains or city buildings look like they have been flattened or squashed, it is because your computer’s central processing unit hasn’t managed to calculate their true dimensions. A good graphics card will instead use its own processor to create a more realistic 3D image of these objects.
Check out the guide Processor And Graphics Card Compatibility Test.
Play videos with DirectX Video Acceleration, accelerating-, H.264- & MPEG-4 part 2 decoding:
Also, video cards can accelerate decoding of H.264 and MPEG-4 movies. This is known as DirectX Video Acceleration (DXVA), and it allows the graphics processor to decode videos without taking much strain off your computer’s central processing unit.
Speeding up file compression with Quick Sync Video technology:
Video encoding is another area where graphics cards can excel compared to your computer’s central processing unit. Graphics cards can be used to encode videos by using Quick Sync Video technology. This allows you to speed up video encoding without putting much strain on the CPU part of the system, which may then leave more resources for other programs running simultaneously in the background.
Reacting quickly to user inputs/requests:
One last thing worth noting is that when we talk about graphics cards we usually refer to dedicated graphic processors manufactured by companies like NVidea and ATI (now owned by AMD). These dedicated chips are much faster than CPUs at managing data-intensive functions such as gaming and video editing because these tasks rely much more heavily on mathematical calculations rather than storage capacity or memory retrieval speeds, which instead tend to be much more important for standard processors to excel at. Add this all up and what you get is a device that can react much more quickly to user inputs/requests than other hardware components.
Transcoding, streaming and playing of audio and video files with DirectX Media Object decoder:
A DirectX Media Object decoder is a part of the video card that can be used to decode audio and video files. This allows your computer’s central processing unit to dedicate its resources to other tasks while it lets the video card manage decoding so you can stream or play back videos or movies without any kind of lag. You should keep in mind that even though graphics cards are typically dedicated motherboards, they are still connected to your computer’s CPU via PCI Express (PCIe) interfaces. Also note that many systems these days use an Intel processor combined with an AMD/ATI graphics card rather than having a dedicated motherboard for each component.
Processing of the data from multiple graphics cards
Processing of the data from multiple graphics cards in a CrossFire or SLI configuration that allows them to work together by splitting up rendering tasks between them resulting in increased rendering performance:
This is also another thing to note. Graphics cards can be combined in a configuration known as SLI (which stands for Scalable Link Interface) or CrossFire, which allows them to work together by splitting up rendering tasks between them resulting in increased rendering performance. This means that if you have two GPUs and you test them both on FurMark, the overall GPU power would be more than 2 times higher than with only one of these GPUs enabled. It should be noted that having multiple GPUs can cause more problems than it solves however since it often leads to micro stuttering and occasionally even system crashes when using an SLI/CrossFire setup. Keep this in mind before getting yourself into such a configuration!
Provide support for multiple monitors
Provide support for multiple monitors connected via DisplayPort 1.2 MultiMonitor and HDMI 1.4 and later on 4K resolution with Multi-Stream Transport (MST) hubs, which can provide monitor spanning with one computer display output simultaneously supporting multiple monitors external displays through proprietary connections:
A graphics card works with high resolution monitors via connectors like DisplayPort 1.2 MultiMonitor and HDMI 1.4 (which supports resolutions up to 4096 x 2160 pixels). The main advantage of using a dedicated graphics processing unit for work is that it should be able to support multiple monitors connected via these ports or even through proprietary connections like DVI or VGA. It should be noted however that these additional monitors should not affect the performance of the other display outputs found on your computer’s motherboard, which means you should still have proper video playback when only one monitor is connected. Also keep in mind that if your goal is to connect more than three displays at once, then there are better options than using an NVIDIA GeForce GTX graphic card since NVIDIA limits the maximum number of displays that can be connected to a single card using their drivers.
See also Is 4GB Graphics Card Good For Gaming?
Creating and displaying of 3D worlds
Creating and displaying of 3D worlds for games, movies and other forms of entertainment with the use of technologies like DirectX Raytracing (DXR) or Vulkan:
This may be the most important capability of a graphics card and is what people usually think about when they talk about gaming. Most modern games make use of DirectX and OpenGL APIs to create and display 3D worlds for you to explore, with some even making use of technologies like DirectX Raytracing or Vulkan that allow them to simulate real life more accurately than they used to be able to. It should be noted however that such processing is resource intensive and if your CPU is too slow, then it can bottleneck performance. This means that in order to get the best possible rendering performance from your graphics card, you will need a powerful CPU as well so keep this in mind before buying a GPU!
3D modeling, rendering and painting via specialized software
3D modeling, rendering and painting via specialized software like Autodesk Maya which is used by many people in Hollywood to create animated movies successfully using GPU computing technologies like NVIDIA Iray, which is used to create beautiful virtual worlds for movies like Rogue One:
It should be noted that while 3D modeling, rendering and painting (such as the ones provided by Autodesk Maya or Blender) can make use of GPU computing technologies like NVIDIA Iray in order to speed up the process, they are also often bottlenecked by your CPU. This means that if you want to get better performance while using these software packages than you would with just a graphics card alone, then you will need at least an Intel Core i7 6th Gen “Skylake” processor or newer.
Provide various functions that are useful to the operating system itself
Providing various functions that are useful to the operating system itself such as Windows Aero Glass interface, GPU accelerated video processing operations on multimedia files, intelligent window management processes to keep an eye on all open windows at once, automatic configuration of monitor settings to name just a few things that can be done by GPUs today. The thing is however that while a graphics card may only rarely bottleneck performance when used for these tasks, the price you have to pay for this additional functionality will often be very high in terms of money and also power consumption since adding more cores and stream processors will often result in a corresponding increase in power consumption which increases your electricity bill or forces you to buy a new power supply unit.