A graphics card is used to display images on your monitor. Without
one you will not be able to see what your computer is doing.
There are four main types, PCI-E (Requires PCI Express slot (Not to
be confused with PCI)), AGP graphics cards (requires an AGP slot
in your computer), PCI graphics cards (requires a PCI slot in your
computer), and onboard video (this is a video card that is merged with
The more powerful the graphics card the quicker and smoother images
will appear on your monitor.
So when buying what do you look for? If the budget is tight and you
are buying a computer, you will find the cheaper range will have onboard
video. Make sure that you ask if an AGP or PCI-E slot is available inside, for
PCI-Express (PCI-E) cards are the choice for graphics, but can only
be used in a PCI-E
slot. Without this expansion slot you will find yourself replacing the
motherboard as well, incurring a larger expense. Some motherboards now
have twin pci-express slots allowing for the use of either one or two
cards. This is called SLI ready. The only downside is to be sure the PCI-E
graphics card/s you fit are also SLI ready. Check this before buying.
Pictured above is a board with two PCI-Express slots
(White slots on right)
Picture is a free brown AGP slot
When buying a new graphics card, always look for what was top of the
range 6 months previous. This will allow you to buy a card that was
maybe £200 plus for less than £100. This will save you a lot of money.
PCI cards (Not PCI-Express) are best avoided as they usually only provide minor
Laptops come with onboard video, remember this cannot be upgraded so
look for the best thatís available at time of purchase.