Have you ever wondered if installing a graphics card will help boost your computer’s performance and improve your graphics. Many graphics cards have become very pricy. While some don’t seem to care about the cost and just want the latest and greatest, not everyone wants or needs to pay top dollar. An average person likely doesn’t need to most expensive beefed out graphics card out there, even if they had it they wouldn’t use it to it’s full potential. Most likely they wouldn’t notice a performance difference for a multitude of reasons.
As a general rule, installing a graphics card will improve your graphics. Dedicated graphics card are more powerful than integrated graphics and as a result improve your overall computer system. However, there are some limiting factor to keep in mind, and installing a graphics card may not give you the performance boost you are looking for.
What does a graphics card do?
A graphics card also known as a GPU or video card is responsible for rendering video and images. In short, the graphics card renders images by communicating with the pixels in your display. Every display consists of hundreds of pixels that work together to display the images that you see on your screen. The GPU is a computer chip that will interpret the data in your computer to render the image by arranging the pixels by performing complex calculations required to render the video or image.
Advantages of installing a graphics card.
When you have an dedicated graphics card there are some advantages aside from a performance boost. The biggest advantage is that you won’t be taking away from your CPU performance. When you install a graphics card, you also get VRAM, which is video RAM, and is dedicated to cache data dedicated to rendering video. You won’t have to take away from RAM that your CPU relies on.
Additionally, a GPU has its own power supply and won’t have to take away from power needed for the CPU. Having a dedicated graphics card will boost performance not just of your graphics but also your CPU since your CPU and GPU will not have to share RAM or power.
Another great advantage for a non gamer is the ability to use multiple monitors. With the power boosts comes the ability to power more monitors. If you are a professional and need to have more space to work, installing a graphics card may be a great option because you will have the ability to run multiple monitors.
What about integrated graphics?
Integrated graphics are built into your CPU, with integrated graphics the GPU and CPU components are combined onto one chip, and doesn’t require a separate GPU to render video. Integrated graphics have come along way in recent years, and you can even play some games with decent graphics by relying solely on integrated graphics. Depending on how you use your computer integrated graphics may be all you need. If you are a gamer and want to know what to look for in a graphics card and which one is right for you see our guide to help you shop for the best graphics card.
If you have an older computer that has an older GPU, you may experience better graphics using a newer CPU with integrated graphics. Integrated graphics are great for budget computers or just normal day to day computer use. Integrated graphics are also great if you want to save space on your desk. Since the graphics are integrated into the same computer chip as the CPU you can find some pretty compact computers and don’t have to worry about it overheating.
Your computer usage will affect your graphics.
Depending on what you plan to use your computer for is a factor to consider if you are deciding on whether to install a dedicated graphics card or not. If you use your computer just for spreadsheets or writing, you most likely won’t notice any improvement in your graphics.
Doing basic tasks doesn’t require a lot of power from your graphics and any integrated graphics or basic graphics card can easily handle these types of tasks. If you install a powerful graphics card and only do these basic computing tasks, you won’t run into any problems but you won’t notice any performance boost in your graphics or display.
However, if you are planning on gaming or video editing, installing a graphics card may greatly improve your experience. Having a dedicated graphics card will render videos faster. The performance boost from having a dedicated graphics card will be needed when performing demanding tasks. With either gaming or video editing, the VRAM will keep your programs running smoothly with little to no buffering.
Your monitor may also affect your graphics.
Depending on the quality of your monitor, you may not notice better graphics just by installing a graphics card. If you have a low quality monitor your graphics card will not have to work to its full capacity. If you want to take full advantage of your graphics card capabilities you will want to make sure to get a top notch display.
Some specs to look out for on a monitor include:
- Frames per second (“FPS”)
- Response time
- Picture resolution
Your frames per second is how often your monitor will display a still image per second to make your screen perceive movement. If you have a monitor that does 24fps, that means every second your monitor is displaying 24 still images. The higher your fps rate the smoother your video will seem.
The response time matters more for those looking for a competitive edge for gaming. The response time is how quickly your monitor will react to the your keyboard and mouse. For normal computer users, this isn’t a huge consideration. If you are a gamer you will want to try and get the fastest response time possible.
Picture resolution will affect how clear your images will appear. A higher resolution means you have more pixels in your monitor the clearer your video and images will look. If you have a low resolution monitor and you are wanting to improve the clarity of your videos or images, installing a graphics card would not be the solution.