What are the Important Specifications of a Graphics Card?

Hobbyists, gamers, and enterprise users of PCs and laptops usually have one thing in common; they want to optimize the performance of their system.  While many variables play into performance, one that is becoming exceedingly important is the graphics card. Whether an engineer is trying to visualize a 3D model or a microscopist is hoping to visualize fluorescent enhanced cells in real-time, the specifications of graphics cards can make or break a project. With this in mind, understanding the various specifications required for a graphic card's optimal performance is essential for anyone trying to build or upgrade their computer or laptop. In this blog, we will discuss several important factors one should consider when seeking a graphics card.

The GPU is ubiquitous in the graphics processing world, so much so that some mistakenly interchange the term with the graphics card. While the GPU is one of the most vital components of the graphics card, it is just one of several smaller components that make up the card. Of the several manufacturers that produce GPUs, NVIDIA and AMD share close to 100% of the GPUs used in current graphics cards. Each company has several GPUs of varying prices and performance. The GPU can be replaced and upgraded on most modern PCs, while the same is not possible on many laptops.

Stream processors are individual "cores" or units in the GPU that perform computational processes that contribute to the graphics. Therefore, if the GPU has more cores, it should perform better on average. However, the number of processors is only one of the many factors that play into graphics card performance. As a result, if a GPU has more cores but lacks in other domains, it may not perform better. The core clock speed is the value of computations that the cores perform every second. This number, measured in MHz, varies depending on the graphical demands of the system at any given minute. Therefore, companies will generally boast the maximum speed instead of the average. Additionally, if the core clock runs at high speeds for an extended amount of time, it will generate much heat, so one should ensure that their cooling apparatus can perform equally.

Like many other processors in a computer, graphics cards need memory to store data. Functioning similarly to RAM, VRAM (Video-RAM) stores image data to be rendered on the monitor. It is measured in GB and typically comes in intervals of two. Generally, having more storage to store graphical information is better to a certain extent. For example, if the game or application that one plans to use does not require more storage, any extra VRAM goes to waste. This is crucial to determine as the price for a GPU rises sharply as the VRAM capacity increases. Another factor that should be considered when looking at VRAM is the memory bandwidth, which is the operating speed at which the card can access the data on the VRAM.

The next factor that one should consider when purchasing a graphics card is the amount and types of display output ports. The most commonly found port types are HDMI and DisplayPort, which are compatible with most devices made in the last 15 years. However, if one uses equipment that requires an older output port such as VGA or DVI, they should consider the need for an adapter or a different graphics card. Alternatively, some newer devices necessitate a USB Type-C connection, only supported by the latest graphics cards.

Once you have established which factors you are looking for in your graphics card, browse our selection at NSN Target. We are a leading online distributor of IT, aviation, and NSN components for a wide variety of industries. With an inventory of over 2 billion ready-to-purchase items, we are confident that we can help source the exact components you need for your operations. Additionally, as an AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 00-56B certified and accredited distributor, we go to great lengths to ensure the integrity of our inventory. Submit an RFQ today for any items you are interested in purchasing and see why many customers rely on NSN Target to fulfill all their needs.


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