Graphics cards

A vital component of any PC, the graphics card is a key performance component, especially in respect to 3D games. Put simply, it is an expansion card in your PC that processes image data and outputs it to your monitor.

Graphics cards act as processing powerhouses, offloading from your CPU much of the hard work of calculating how scenes look, particularly in 3D graphics. Taking a 3D scene and rendering it to the screen takes an incredible amount of processing power. So much processing power, in fact, that the fastest graphics processors often have more transistors than mainstream CPUs, require fans to cool them and need direct links to power supplies.

A graphics card has multiple components: a graphics processor, or GPU; memory for graphics operations; a RAMDAC (more on RAMDAC later) for display output, and potentially other ancillary components to TV output and capture, SLI and the like.


2D or 3D: that is the question

A graphics card should be purchased in accordance with your needs. The simple rule is that all currently available graphics cards are up to snuff for 2D operations. If 2D is as far as you want to go, then you should look for a low-cost solution, perhaps even go for integrated graphics.

It's 3D graphics performance that really separates the wheat from the chaff. The performance of the graphics card will directly influence both the frame rate and image quality of 3D programs and games. There are huge differences between the low and high-end cards in this respect.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

PC World Staff

PC World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?