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The video subsystem is responsible for providing output display to the user, showing the results of the calculations and programs that the computer is running. It includes the following components:
The definition above is technically correct, and has been since the earliest PCs, but doesn't really convey the true essence of how important the video subsystem is in a modern PC. The earliest PCs used flickery monochrome text to "show the results of calculations", and that's all the video really had to do. Today, we use our computers for so much more than just calculations. Yet most of the communication from the PC to the user is still visual, through the video card and monitor. In fact, many PCs use nothing else.
Three very different aspects of the capabilities of the video subsystem, all of which influence the selection of both the video card and monitor, are these:
When designing a PC, you must consider the capabilities of the video card and the monitor simultaneously. Strengths of the monitor only matter if the video card can exploit them, and likewise, the video card cannot be instructed to operate in a way that the monitor can not handle.
However, video card and monitor aren't tied as tightly together as some other components, such as the CPU and motherboard. Fortunately, the interface between regular monitors and video cards is one of the few that actually has remained unchanged over the last many years, allowing most monitors to work with most video cards (although not always optimally.) Matching the components usually is focused on ensuring that the video card and monitor both work at the same resolution and refresh settings, issues related to the "capacity" item above. See the discussion of selecting monitors for more information.
Note: If you are planning to
use an LCD screen on a desktop machine, the interface between the video card and monitor
becomes something you need to pay more attention to. Some LCD screens work using a
standard analog video interface, but others require a special digital connection. See the discussion of notebook components for more.
Next: Storage Subsystem