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Is a GPU a video card?

The GPU isn't quite the same thing as a video card, but they share some similarities
Last Updated on March 3, 2023
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GPU stands for “graphics processing unit.” This is a specialized piece of hardware that is designed to handle the complex calculations required for rendering graphics, such as those used in video games or 3D modeling software. A video card, on the other hand, is a component that connects to a computer’s motherboard and outputs video signals to a display, meaning a GPU and video card aren’t quite the same thing.

In many cases, these two terms are combined into a single unit. This is known as a “graphics card” or “GPU card.” These devices include both a GPU and video output, allowing them to handle both the processing and display of graphics.

Although the terms “GPU” and “video card” are often used interchangeably in the world of computer hardware, there are however some key differences between the two that are worth exploring.

While both GPUs and video cards are involved in the process of displaying graphics on a screen, they perform different functions. The graphics processing unit is the component responsible for actually processing the graphics, while the video card simply outputs the processed data to the screen.

Does a GPU have a video card?

So, is a GPU a video card? Strictly speaking, no. While they are often packaged together in a graphics card, a graphics processing unit is a specific component responsible for graphics processing, while a video card is responsible for outputting video signals to a display.

That being said, the line between GPUs and video cards can be blurry, as they are often used in conjunction with one another. Additionally, the rise of integrated graphics solutions, which include both a GPU and video output on the same chip, has further blurred the distinction between these components.

Ultimately, the important thing to understand is that a GPU and a video card are not the same things, but they are often used together to achieve the same end result: displaying graphics on a screen. Whether you are a gamer, a video editor, or just a casual computer user, understanding the difference between these components can help you make informed decisions when it comes to buying or upgrading your computer hardware.

Camilo is a contributor for PC Guide. He's been into tech since he was a teen, surfing through the web and local stores trying to find the cheapest way to play the latest Half-Life on his old Windows