As an alternative to the use of a video card, video hardware can be integrated into the motherboard, CPU, or a system-on-chip. Both approaches can be called integrated graphics. Motherboard-based implementations are sometimes called “on-board video”. Almost all desktop computer motherboards with integrated graphics allow the disabling of the integrated graphics chip in BIOS, and have a PCI, or PCI Express (PCI-E) slot for adding a higher-performance graphics card in place of the integrated graphics. The ability to disable the integrated graphics sometimes also allows the continued use of a motherboard on which the on-board video has failed. Sometimes both the integrated graphics and a dedicated graphics card can be used simultaneously to feed separate displays. The main advantages of integrated graphics include cost, compactness, simplicity and low energy consumption. The performance disadvantage of integrated graphics arises because the graphics processor shares system resources with the CPU. A dedicated graphics card has its own random access memory (RAM), its own cooling system, and dedicated power regulators, with all components designed specifically for processing video images. Upgrading to a dedicated graphics card offloads work from the CPU and system RAM, so not only will graphics processing be faster, but the computer’s overall performance may also improve.
A higher end card like this means more flexibility in your use-cases, however a really expensive, high-powered graphics card is not a requirement for smooth, immersive gameplay. Cards like the Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 280 still have a decent amount of VRAM to handle current generation games. It just may not be able to keep up with higher resolutions as more and more graphics-intense games release. It’s up to the user to decide if they want to make the initial high-cost investment right off the bad with a more powerful card, or be satisfied with lower resolutions as their mid-range card ages. Of course, the more power a card has, the more heat it generates and the more wattage it requires. In fact, the graphics card is the most power-hungry component in your system, so you’ll have to be aware of that when building your first gaming pc or when considering a much needed upgrade. It’s generally considered a good idea to have at least 60 watts of headroom after adding up the combined wattage of your system’s components. So, if your current system uses a 650 watt power supply and you only have exactly 60 watts of headroom leftover, then you may want to also consider buying a power supply with a larger capacity before you get that R9 390 or GTX 980ti. EVGA, in addition to graphics cards, also provides PSUs. You can also check out Thermaltake, Corsair, and Seasonic. You also will probably need to upgrade your power supply if you’re adding on another video card, which is what some people do instead of just buying one powerful card. This is called SLI for Nvidia or Crossfire for AMD. Typically, it’s pretty easy to set up, as all you would need is another card of the same specifications, an SLI or Crossfire bridge (a separate component that links the two cards together, usually included in the retail box of whatever video card you’re buying), and an open PCI slot on your motherboard. This can be a more cost-effective way of upgrading your system instead of buying one brand-new, really powerful (and therefore expensive) video card.
What does a video card do? The video card renders raw video data for visual output that is viewed on external displays such as a monitor or TV. While many CPUs have video rendering capabilities, video cards are dedicated pieces of hardware with their own graphics processing unit and video memory that fit into the PCI slot on your motherboard. It is essential to have this dedicated graphics card for playing current generation games at optimal resolutions, and is also necessary for other visually-intensive tasks like digital photo processing and 3D rendering. What is a PCI slot? PCI stands for peripheral component interconnect. It is where your video card connects to the motherboard in order to talk to it and transfer information back and forth. A PCI slot can connect other hardware to the motherboard, such as a sound card or capture media card. How is a new video card installed? Thankfully, a video card is one of the easiest things to install in your gaming PC. The bottom of the video card has a connector that sticks out from the card’s PCB. This slots into one of the PCI slots on your motherboard. Just push down gently until it snaps into place, then secure the card’s bracket to the side of your case with the included screws. If you are unsure of the proper installation contact a GraphicsCardsAdvisor and insure the best results.