Whether you are a gamer or just like to watch the occasional YouTube video, there are some basics that every computer user should know about graphics cards. This information will help you when it comes to selecting a computer or upgrading a graphics card.

The first thing you will notice is that there is a huge range of prices for graphics cards. While a gamer may want to spend several hundred dollars on the latest model, most computers can get a serious upgrade with very little expense at all.

If you are wondering what a graphics card is, then you may just be used to the term video card. The two words are often used interchangeably. Most computers come with a built-in graphics card. The problem, with that is that they are generally very basic and do not have the processing power for even simple games or HD video. Because of that, your CPU is burdened with having to pick up the slack. This may cause your entire computer to slow down when memory intensive graphics are being viewed.

For graphically intensive games, you will need a certain amount of graphics memory. Most games will give you a range of memory. For example, a game may say that 512MB is necessary to run the game but that 2GB is optimal. Optimal performance is especially necessary for online gaming where real-time game play against others requires that your graphics card not be lagging behind your opponent.

The other principal factor when it comes to a graphics card is rendering video. If you use your computer for work and you are a graphic designer, then you no doubt appreciate the benefits of a good video card. Running rendering software requires a fast GPU (graphical processing unit) and a lot of graphics memory.

For the average person, you can pick up last year’s model of any name brand graphics card and immediately notice a big difference from the one that came with your computer.