All computers have video cards. Without one, your computer wouldn’t be able to display on the screen any of the information you put in or that the computer puts out. More sophisticated video cards allow your computer to display complex, three-dimensional graphics, but some also allow you to receive and display television signals on a computer monitor. Video cards are measured in terms similar to those used to measure the overall performance of a computer’s central processing unit, or CPU . The video card’s CPU is measured in megahertz, and the video card also has onboard random access memory, or RAM, which temporarily stores the images currently being displayed. Faster video cards with more RAM can provide more detailed images. For computer games, having a powerful video card is important because it makes the picture sharper and the animation smoother. However, the more powerful your video card is, the more powerful your computer has to be to take advantage of the video card’s capabilities. You’ll also need a good video card if you’re interested in viewing or editing video from a digital video camera, or wish to receive television signals on your computer. Video cards can vary greatly when it comes to price; the cheapest models start at about $15 and range up to as much as $300 or more. Most computers come with a video card, so only upgrade if you’re sure you need to.
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