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Inside your Computer - Your Hardware Explained  


Graphics Cards

(PCI-E (PCI Express), AGP, PCI, and onboard)

Graphics Cards

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 motherboard.)

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 future expansion.

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)

Buyers Guide Part 8 - Graphics Cards

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 performance enhancements.

Laptops come with onboard video, remember this cannot be upgraded so look for the best thatís available at time of purchase.



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