Graphics Cards Beginner’s Guide 2020: Everything you need to know

Published by Aleem Iqbal on

Everything-About-GPUs

The world has evolved in the past decade. Thus, the efficiency and performances of the technological devices have shown a great many improvements. Everything is fast in today’s age, and technology has made it happen.

You can find everything on your fingertips and in great variety. Technology has helped in evolving our entertainment industry, too, providing us with new experiences that were not possible before.

So, graphics cards are associated with gaming as the gaming industry is evolving and is becoming one of the most popular entertainments today. It has changed so much that it has outgrown the music and cinema industry.

Although the love for gaming is still a mystery, its popularity can be seen worldwide. The gaming world is described as something that might only appeal to adolescent males, but the research has proven it wrong.

A study based in the UK has found out that a majority of the gamers were female, and thus the appeal of gaming is for both sexes, not just one. Also, the gaming world appeal is spread among every age group ranging from (6-64).

This diversity in the age group is only found today due to the easy accessibility online and on mobile phones making the games available to all age groups. This also opens it to a large variety of people.

Now the gaming industry has two types of self-proclaimed gamers. They are the casual gamers who play games on their phones just to past time and the real players who play games on consoles and PC and invest their minds and energies to it.

Now all these gadgets can help you achieve a different level of experience in the gaming world. If you want a pro-level experience, then like most pros’ PC is the right choice to make, although consoles now days also provide an extraordinary too.

The gamers like to have a more refined experience that can only be provided if the gadgets are as thus and have similar capabilities to offer with professional experience. Graphics cards like the name suggest it gives with better quality graphics that cannot be achieved typically as most games have complex mathematical information that needs to be processed at a fast rate.

What is a graphics card?

Graphics Card

An essential component of a computer or all computing devices is a graphics card, which is a type of a video card or a display adaptor. The graphics card helps in displaying the graphics related data and determines its color, clarity definition and its overall outlook.

This graphics card is responsible for processing and executing graphical data and provides with high-quality visual display. This is achieved by using advanced graphical techniques, functions, and features.

So, in easy words, a graphics card is a card that helps translate complex binary data given by the CPU and transform them into easily readable images for you.  There are two ways for this translation to occur. Either the reading is on the motherboard, and it takes place on it, or there are graphics cards installed to do the conversion instead.

The video card is essentially a chipset that is found on the circuit board, and it is hardly more than an index finger. This chip handles and processes everything, and it happens extremely fast, thus helping us experience good gaming or video experience.

The alternate names that can be used instead of graphics card are:

  • Graphic accelerator card
  • Graphics board
  • Graphics controller
  • Video card
  • Graphics processing unit (GPU)
  • Graphics adaptor

Types of Graphics Cards:

There are two important types of graphic cards available. They are

  • Integrated Graphics Cards:

Integrated Graphics Cards

These are the cards that are already on the motherboard. These are free and hassle-free cards and are power efficient. But also, they are weak as they do not cater to demanding games, and it might even fail if a demanding game is played on it.

Also, the integrated cards share resources and thus share RAM, and so any massive task might overload it, and this might affect the other work as there might not be enough RAM to go around

  • Dedicated Graphics Cards:

Dedicated Graphics Cards

On the other hand, we have these dedicated cards, which are better performance-wise and also on the high end too. As the name implies, they are a separate additional piece that we introduce in the system.

The biggest plus of these is that they give better video performance. They do not share resources as they have their RAM, thus increasing the speed of a general task and making it a lot smoother.

The only downside is the cost as they are quite expensive, ranging from $250 to $1000. And that they require a lot of power so increased heat and thus you need to upgrade the cooling system as they will require substantial cooling fans.

How does a graphics card work?

The working of the graphics card is relatively simple. They are as follows:

  • First, the CPU sends the information to the graphics card with the help of a software application
  • Then the graphics card translates the data and then decides how the pixels on the monitor can be evolved to create the required image
  • Then it sends the processed information to the monitor, and we see it

As technology has advanced and 3-D models and much more is happening, a lot of work has to be processed and done in the case of images. To accomplish it all, a graphics card is necessary as too much of it can cause a strain on the computer.

The graphics card makes many calculations and to accomplish the multiple tasks. This all is done with the help of 4 components that are:

  • The card requires a connection with the motherboard for data and power
  • It requires a processor that knows what to do with all the pixels on the screen
  • It needs the help of memory so that it can temporarily hold information about the pictures
  • Last, of all, it needs a connection with the monitor to see the final image

The importance of a Graphic Card

Graphic cards hold great importance. Mostly in this era, graphic cards are associated with gamers, but they are also important for people who work with professional applications like using Adobe Photoshop. The cards are really beneficial for photo editing and video editing business.

Even if we think that a graphics card might not hold importance for normal usage, but it’s always beneficial to have a specialized card for graphics on your computer. This is because, as the advancement in technology and general programs, the video cards help in getting better performances rather than an upgraded RAM or CPU. Due to their specialized designs, they can handle complex mathematical information better than RAM and CPU.

Evolution of a graphic card

When we go back to the history of the graphics cards, we can take it back to 1940. The first graphic cards were not associated with gaming, and so we can see in history as the US military used it in Saga computer for flight simulator. Back then, it had only 256 colors.

Then in the 1980s, a big step was taken by Intel as they made a mildly revolutionary effect in the evolution of the graphic card, as the video card made was capable of 8 unique colors in a 256 by 256 resolution.

This was revolutionary for the graphic cards and c=occurred in 1983, and soon after that in 1988, a Canada based company introduced a 16-bit card that was full 2D graphic card.

Then came the 1990’s where the card became better and more revolutionized as they could support 3D gaming. In 1992 a graphic card was introduced that could support both 2D and 3D. in 1998, a card was introduced that supported high resolutions 1024 by 768.

And finally, in 1999, a video card was introduced that had the capability of processing 10 million polygons per second.

Lastly, the 21st century the most eventful almost two decades for the graphics card. They introduced one after the other cards with better features such as cooling systems and systems that allow you to overclock. GTX 1060 is Nvidia’s best graphics cards till now

How to get maximum performance from a Graphics Card?

Optimizing your graphics card for maximum optimization can be complicated and needs guidance. As it helps you figure out what your graphic card is capable of and whatnot.

This optimization of your graphics card requires benchmarking your graphic card, as it tests the limits a graphic card is capable of whether they can cope up with the latest PC games or not and what the maximum resolution it can handle and whatnot.

Benchmarking your graphics card will help you determine any early on problems and help you eliminate them. You don’t want your graphics card to fail in the middle of the game now.

So, these benchmark tests run for a couple of hours and help you see if your card can withhold so much information or not. If your graphics card runs for a couple of hours, then that determines that it’s good to go, but it crashes or shows glitches, then that means there is a problem, and you need to resolve it.

Specific steps will help you when you are testing out the graphics card. They are as follows:

  • First, clean your graphic card. Cleaning your card will help avoid any hindrance that can be caused by the dust particles in the heatsink. This can be easily achieved with the help of an air blower. The air blower will help in removing the excess dust. The air blower can be electric or non-electric whichever you want to use. Electric air blowers are generally found more useful due to their high speed.

To make sure that there is not any residue left, a soft brush can be used. It will help dust off any stubborn dust particles. The use of the brush should only be done if you do not have any Black plate.

  • The second step is to make sure that your driver is updated. Many companies keep on releasing new drivers that help make the card bug-free and boost their performance. So to have the best results, make sure that your driver is an updated version, or the results may vary.
  • The third step is very important and doesn’t take it mildly. You must make sure that the exhaust system is properly working as if the graphics card overheats it will cause hindrance in graphical output. It might slow the processing step making the computer slower. So, check if the exhaust is working correctly or not, making sure no overheating occurs during the benchmarking of the card, mainly.

Usually, the tests overheat the card sooner than in the game. There are certain conditions that games generally don’t reach that you can check. The games usually raise the temp of the cards to 85 C, not more than that.

  • There are many software’s available online free and not free (mostly not free) that can help you do the stress test of your graphic card. These stress tests take your graphic cards to the max potential. These benchmark tests are usually done in the resolution you play your games at or the resolution your windows are. While testing this, you can even test the card for 3-D and see how it copes with it. If the benchmark tests are successful, then you can easily grab a pair of 3-D glasses and start gaming.

If the tests are confusing to determine and you are not sure which to choose, then you can easily choose the ready-made version of tests. These benchmarking tests come in categories of basic and extreme. You can select either and operate with it. They will help you determine your graphic cards benchmark.

However, if you want to be more specific, and want to have a benchmark test according to a particular game, then you can consider the benchmark tests of the games. Many games have a built-in benchmark test that you can perform. Although some games might not have this in-built feature, it can easily be overcome by programs like MSI Afterburner or FRAPS that can help you record the performance in your game.

Some of the software’s good for the stress test are:

  • FurMark
  • HeavyLoad
  • Nividia 3-D vision
  • Heaven benchmark
  • Unigine Heaven
  • There are two ways in which benchmarking can be achieved. It is either with the help of a software or by playing graphically intensive games.
  • Then comes the difficult testing part, the overclocking. This is a difficult step, and many don’t know how to do it. This task thus requires skill as one small mistake can cause some serious and irreversible damage to your graphic card. Using the MSI Aftershock software will help you achieve it without any issues.

You use the software, and through it increase the Core Clock and Memory clock, the maximum you can increase it by Is +50 MHz, not more than that. Once the clocks are increased, the first time, perform a stress test and determine if everything is stable or not. Once you perform the test, determine if the graphic card passes the test or failed it. Keep increasing the values until your graphic card fails the test.

Failing the test won’t cause any damage to your graphic card because only increasing the Core Voltage, manually can damage the graphic card. The graphic card is built as such that helps them protect themselves from physical damages.

It’s a wise choice not to increase the voltage as it can shorten the lifespan of your graphics card.you should test it till the card reaches its max potential and don’t try to push the card beyond its limits.

  • The benchmarking should be done first without overclocking and then with overclocking. The results obtained from each test will help you determine the full potential of your graphics card. The tests will help you observe any performance issues that can come shortly.

The results obtained can be interpreted as such:

  • If the tests have issues in the first test, and the test doesn’t run smoothly, that already indicates specific problems.
  • The frames per second can help you analyze more deeply. As if the counter is at least 30 or more, then it determines smooth gameplay otherwise not. The higher the result, the better the gameplay. For ideal conditions, the frames per second (FPS) should be about 60.
  • The tests and software will help determine the temperature of the graphics card, too, if the card overheats quickly or reaches high temperatures that suggest that in the future, your game card can lead to problems and instability in the system.
  • Many sites help you compare the benchmark results so you can visit them or more. TechPowerUp and Overclock are one of the sites that can help you compare.
  • After testing and analyzing the results, then you can determine your cards are working. If you think your cards not working correctly, there are a few things that you can do before disposing of your graphic card and replacing it with a new one. The few things that you can do are:
  • You can make sure that the driver installed is compatible with your graphic card. This can be done by checking it online, with the graphic card’s manufacturer.
  • Restarting your computer and re-running your benchmark tests might help improve the results.

If the results obtained are still unsatisfactory even after performing the tests, its best that you invest in a newer model of a graphic card.

Conclusion

Graphic cards may prove to be a good investment if you don’t have any, but if you do, then there are many options available in the market. You should invest in something that will help you in the long run.

If you’re a professional gamer, then investing in a graphic card is a must for a better-quality experience, and because if you don’t, you might damage the existing card.

Investing in this card is only necessary if your work requires it or if the existing one is causing problems in your work. So, after spending, you have to be careful of many accounts regarding the card. You must be aware of the techniques to help you set a benchmark for your video card, so you don’t damage it or reduce its life span. There are many options available online that you can also consult, or you can consult a professional to help you determine it.


Aleem Iqbal

Love writing about Hardware, Gamer by Birth, Was 4 years old when played my first video game it was Moto Racer 2 I believe.