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Your system's video card is the component responsible for producing the visual output from your computer. Virtually all programs produce visual output; the video card is the piece of hardware that takes that output and tells the monitor which of the dots on the screen to light up (and in what color) to allow you to see it.
Like most parts of the PC, the video card had very humble beginnings--it was only responsible for taking what the processor produced as output and displaying it on the screen. Early on, this was simply text, and not even color at that. Video cards today are much more like coprocessors; they have their own intelligence and do a lot of processing that would otherwise have to be done by the system processor. This is a necessity due to the enormous increase both in how much data we send to our monitors today, and the sophisticated calculations that must be done to determine what we see on the screen. This is particularly so with the rise of graphical operating systems, and 3D computing.
The video card in your system plays a significant role in the following important aspects of your computer system:
This section discusses the video card and its characteristics in detail, including its components, performance factors, video modes and resolution, and multimedia. I also discuss different memory technologies used in video cards today. If you are looking for a procedure that will help with physically installing a video card, look here.
Next: Video Card Overview