A graphics card, or “video card”, is a computer component that provides the ability to display images on your computer monitor. There are two major types of cards- integrated and discrete. Integrated refers to the capacity for the motherboard to contain its own graphics processing unit (GPU), while discrete refers to having a separate video card with its own GPU that doesn’t share any other components. A discrete video card has advantages over an integrated one, which will be outlined by best gaming tips in detail below.
1) Graphics Processing Unit
If you have purchased a high-end gaming laptop, chances are it did not come pre-installed with a dedicated GPU. Those laptops were usually expensive models provided by companies like Alienware or Macbook Pros, designed for power users who need the most powerful computer possible. It also likely came with the Intel HD integrated graphics, which is sufficient for performing basic tasks such as internet surfing or word processing but will not be sufficient for video games.
2) High Definition Graphics and Visual Effects
High definition graphics or “HD” is a term used to describe images that have been encoded with a specific number of pixels horizontally and vertically- the more pixel density means crisper, clearer images on your monitor. The resolution for standard TVs is 720p (1280 x 720), while newer computer monitors come standard at 1080p (1920 x 1080). But as technology advances and consumers demand better picture quality, 4K resolutions are starting to be seen more frequently in homes around the world. 4K resolution has an aspect ratio of either 16:9 or 16:10, depending on your preference, and 3840×2160 pixels respectively. In addition to higher resolutions being viewed from further distances, screens with high pixel densities also contribute to greater image clarity and quality.
Anti-aliasing is a method of reducing jaggedness on your monitor by adding an extra level of pixel processing. All monitors are capable of showing pixels that are arranged in straight lines- this creates jagged edges or “staircase” effects for certain images displayed on the screen. Anti-aliasing smooths these visual imperfections because it calculates what colors should be displayed at each intersection point of the stairs, rather than just showing the array of pixels as they are arranged without anti-aliasing. This can improve overall image quality tremendously, making objects appear much smoother and more realistic.
4) Less Stuttering/Lag with Faster Frames per Second
Frames per second or FPS for short is a term used to describe how many images are rendered by the GPU in one second. The higher the number of FPS, means an increase in smoothness and performance- if you want your game to run as smoothly as possible, keep this number high. This is because the graphics card has less work (adjusting colors between pixels) to do when running at higher FPS; which results in overall smoother gameplay with less noticeable stuttering/lag compared to playing at lower FPS.
5) More Accurate Graphics Rendering
Modern video game consoles like the Playstation4 and Xbox One come equipped with powerful GPUs that can render complex 3D scenes very well. However, because these consoles are not as powerful as the average PC, developers have to make compromises when designing games for these platforms. For example, if a developer creates a scene where water is flowing down a hill- the console will usually render it with rectangular shapes if there are too many of them on-screen at once. On the other hand, because PCs are equipped with more powerful GPUs that can process more data without slowing down or stuttering, they are capable of creating smoother gameplay/visuals simultaneously.
When deciding whether or not to purchase a graphics card, it all comes down to what kinds of images you want to view on your monitor. If you’re interested in creating/rendering 3D models, playing games at high frame rates, experiencing smoothness and performance without stuttering/lag/freezing, etc- then investing in a solid GPU will be worthwhile.