What is a graphics card?

My old graphics card is lying on the top of the PC case. You can see that the gold bit connects to the computer’s motherboard, while the blue socket is where you plug the monitor.

In response to the person who said to me, “Excuse my ignorance, but what is a graphics card? What programs do you use it with?” A graphics card (sometimes also called a graphics or video adapter) is the bit of the computer that you plug the monitor into. You can’t work without it. Well, you can, but it would be like working in the darkness.

In human terms, then, the graphics card is a bit like the visual cortex within your brain, which takes the information that it is fed and outputs it in a way that is most helpful to the user. On a computer the processor passes information to the graphics card which interprets that information and passes the image to the monitor. Your eyes take in light from the monitor, which is converted to an electrical signal which is then passed to the visual cortex which interprets it and you can see the image on the screen. Playing a very fast computer game, such as Battlefield 2 this all happens very, very quickly. Modern graphics cards are typically handing millions of instructions per second.

I hope that helps.

Published by

Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 52 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Enneagram type FOUR and introvert (INFP), I am a non-stipendiary priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir, play guitar, play mahjong, write, draw and laugh… Scrum master at Safeguard Global; latterly at Sky and Vision/Cegedim. Former web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and previously warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall.

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