Byte Me Article 138 – Built-in video cards will suit most people

Built in Video Cards Will Suit Most People

Looking back over the Byte Me articles for the last 3 years I see that it has been a while since I have written anything about video cards.  This article should help to remove some of the misconceptions that exist in the industry and should be a good read if you are considering the purchase of a laptop or personal computer anytime soon.  Firstly, what is a video card, what does it do, why do some video cards cost $800 alone and why do some computers appear not to have one?

A video card is also often referred to as a graphics card (the same thing) or a graphics chip (which is a slight variation) or even a GPU (graphics processing unit).  The fact is that EVERY computer or laptop has some form of these to display (or arrange) the images that we see on the screen.  Also used in Netbooks, Tablets and even Smart Phones, they are an essential component in every device that has a display.  Video cards have the ability to ‘process’ the information that gets displayed on the screen and mostly vary in how quickly they can do this.

Manufacturers of modern computers and laptops are often using an ‘on-board’ or ‘integrated’ video card which is simply having the essential electrical components directly attached to the motherboard of the PC instead of a separate ‘plug-in’ or ‘dedicated’ video card which still has to plug into the motherboard.  An integrated video card can add as little as $10 to the overall price of the PC whereas the dedicated ones offer much more power and obviously higher cost.  So, what advantage will you get or what difference will you see by spending the extra $100 to $800 on a dedicated video card?

2013-08-17 Byte Me Article 138 - Video Cards

For the average PC user, you will see ZERO difference between a $10 integrated video card and an $800 dedicated one!  Yes, this is one of the biggest illusions in the industry.  If you are interested in typing documents, browsing the Internet, sending emails, watching DVD movies or YouTube clips and playing some card games then you won’t benefit even 1% by buying a dedicated video card.  However, if you are buying a PC to play high resolution computer games, such as ‘shootem ups’ and ‘virtual reality’ games then a dedicated video card will make sure that the display flows more smoothly and shows great detail.

Is there any downside to buying an expensive dedicated video card?  Absolutely!  If you are not wanting to play these ‘high resolution’ games then a dedicated video card adds a lot of extra power consumption, extra heat, extra complexity and an extra failure point to a PC.  We have rarely ever seen an integrated video chip fail however we have seen countless dozens of dedicated graphics cards fail from overheating or power spikes/surges.  If you don’t play these particular types of games then spending the extra money on a dedicated video card will only bring disadvantages and problems. 

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 07 49 222 400.

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