Video cards (display adaptors) are cards inserted into the expansion slots of a computer's mainboard that 'draw' what appears on the computer's monitor. Since display adaptors fit different expansion slots on the mainboard, there are many different form factors for video cards. Currently, the most common display adaptors available are AGP and PCI-bus based adaptors. Adaptors are differentiated by their capabilities. Some are designed strictly for monochrome displays and can only display text in one color. You have seen such monitors on cash registers and computer terminals attached to mainframes. Most desktop PC's are used to play video games and thus use more powerful graphic display cards which are capable of displaying almost any visual image or graphic. The most advanced graphics cards can perform high-speed three dimensional rendering to fool the human eye into thinking it is looking into a three dimensional space instead of a flat screen. Video cards capable of rendering three-dimensional graphical images are called 3D graphics accelerator cards and possess special chips that assist in performing calculations that produce the three dimensional appearance.

Display Modes

  • CGA
  • EGA
  • VGA
  • SVGA
  • XGA

Video Card Busses

In order of their appearance on the market, here are the various types of video cards available as of the date this page was written:

  • PCI
  • AGP
  • PCI Express

Video Card Manufacturers

  • ATI
  • Matrox
  • nVidia (chip manufacturer, makes no cards)
  • GeForce (packages other chip maker's chips on their video cards)


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