Five How-to’s in Choosing the Best Graphics Card For your Computer

The old days of computing asked us to be content with computers that uttered no sound except the occasional “beep,” printers that made more noise than a cat using a scratching post, and monitors that offered either an orange or a green glow. Fortunately, these days are history, and we may now bask in the glow of our high resolution monitors who offer us life-like images on a daily basis. We no longer squint at some fuzzy displays, but instead enjoy almost seamless animation on many a website.

These images are simply a mass of barely visible dots, also called pixels. At this time, monitors display more than a million pixels, and it is up to the computer to interpret how to allocate these pixels in order to create an identifiable image. This interpretation process takes place on the graphics card. Since these cards may be upgraded, many a user is tempted to look for the latest and the greatest (or costliest) cart out there, but is there a better method for choosing just the right graphics card for the job? The answer is an emphatic “yes” and here are five how-to solutions that will aide you in determining which would be the best graphics card for your computer.

First and foremost, do you really need a graphics card? Let’s say that all you wish to do with your computer is a bit of Internet surfing, some word processing, and perhaps a little bit of e-mail and chat room activity. In this case, all the graphics support you will most likely need can be found on a motherboard with integrated graphics capabilities.

If you find that you will indeed need more than your average motherboard can offer, such as those who work with graphic arts or who play a lot of computer games, you will want to look for a card that has a lot of memory as well as a high-speed processor.

Another tool a user may wish to employ is the frame rate measurement which is often a major advertising component for the different graphics cards. Essentially, this rate refers to the measurement of frames per second (FPS) which is nothing more than the rate of complete images a graphics card will display in one second. High end cards will display more than 60 FPS (which is more than twice the amount the human eye can process per second) and thus provide the illusion of animation and animated scrolling.

Those who do a lot of graphic work will not be content with the FPS rating. As anyone who has ever done any 3-D imaging on the computer will be able to tell you, FPS will actually do very little to measure the worth of a graphics card for them. Actually, 3-D images are nothing more than triangles, and graphic cards catering to the graphic artist demographic offer a rating that calculates how quickly the card can calculate the triangles and build the frame image.

One item that concerns everyone is speed. All graphics cards’ speed is directly affected by their hardware. If the clock speed and bit rate are low, then the card will operate much slower than in they were high. Additionally, the pre-existing hardware also plays a vital role. A high-end graphics card cannot make up for an otherwise antiquated computer system, and a low end computer processor or motherboard with counteract the speed of even the fasted graphics card.

It is obvious that upgrading a graphics card is not so simple a task, and bigger is not always better. If you have a somewhat antiquated system, it may be a useless endeavor to only upgrade your graphics card, since your system may very well negate any speed increase your card may be able to offer you. Similarly, if your needs are very simple (in computing terms) then it might not we worthwhile to spend a lot of money on a graphics card that you will not use to its full potential. Thus, it is always wise to know what you will need prior to buying, and to be fully aware of your system’s hardware and software configuration prior to adding a new component to the mix.

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