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Comparison Between GPU, Graphics Card & Video Card?

Nowadays, it is pretty much impossible to build a decent system without a GPU or graphics card handling the additional video processing load on your system. Even though CPUs are quite powerful right now, and most models come with a built-in iGPU which acts as an onboard GPU for your system, it simply does not catch up with a system with a dedicated graphics card. And the same goes for a desktop as well as a laptop.

The graphics card, or the GPU, is a crucial component in modern computers. Its importance lies in its ability to handle and accelerate the rendering of images, videos, and graphical data. The following are several key reasons why the graphics card is vital. The primary function of a graphics card is to process and render visual data. It takes the workload off the CPU by specializing in complex calculations needed for rendering images and videos.

But, sometimes, it can get pretty confusing to choose the right graphics card because of its terminology. There are a few different terms interchangeably that are used for a GPU, such as graphics cards or video cards. Today, we are going to take a thorough look at these terms and try to understand how these terms differ from each other.

What is a GPU?


To be more specific, GPU stands for graphical processing unit or units, considering numerous graphical processing units are installed on a GPU. It mostly refers to the specialized electronic circuitry designed to handle and accelerate visual data processing. It is a component integrated into the graphics card or included on the CPU, especially on models with an iGPU. The GPU’s primary function is to perform complex calculations required for rendering images, videos, and graphical data.

What is a Graphics Card?

Graphics Cards

The graphics card, also commonly known as the GPU or display adapter, is not the card’s processing unit but the entirety of the unit itself. It is the physical expansion card that contains the GPU. It is a separate dedicated component plugged into the computer’s motherboard. The graphics card typically includes its own dedicated memory called VRAM and connectors for connecting monitors or displays. It interfaces with the CPU and motherboard to process and render graphics, offloading the workload from the CPU and providing improved graphical performance.

What is a Video Card?

The term video card is often used synonymously with a graphics card. However, in some contexts, it specifically refers to a graphics card primarily used for video-related tasks, such as video playback and editing. Video cards may have specialized features, such as hardware acceleration for video decoding or encoding, to enhance the performance of video-related applications. Sometimes, the term video cards is also used for video capture cards developed by brands like Blackmagic or Elgato, one of the most crucial components for a content streamer. These cards simply capture the video content available on display and make it available to the streaming source directly, taking a significant load off your GPU.

GPU and Graphics Card: How Do They Work?

To understand how GPUs and graphics card work, To understand we need to delve into their construction, functionalities, and how they collaborate to process and render graphics

1. GPU

The GPU receives geometric data that defines the 3D shape of objects in a scene. It performs geometry processing tasks, such as transforming and projecting these objects onto a 2D screen space. This stage involves calculations like vertex transformations, clipping, and perspective projection.

After the geometry processing stage, the GPU converts the geometric data into fragments or pixels that will be rendered on the screen. Rasterization involves determining which fragments correspond to the visible portions of the objects and applying attributes like color and texture coordinates to each fragment.

Once the fragments are determined, pixel shading takes place. Pixel shaders are small programs that run on the GPU for each pixel, performing computations to determine each pixel’s final color and appearance. This includes applying lighting, textures, shadows, reflections, and other visual effects. Pixel shaders can also perform complex calculations for post-processing effects, such as motion blur or depth of field.

Finally, the GPU processes the pixel data and sends it to the graphics card’s output ports connected to the display or monitor. The display controller within the GPU ensures that the pixel data is formatted correctly and sent at the appropriate refresh rate to produce a smooth and flicker-free image on the screen.

2. Graphics Card

As explained earlier, the GPU is the core component responsible for graphics processing. It performs calculations and manipulates pixels to render images and videos. The graphics card includes dedicated video memory, or VRAM, which is separate from the computer’s main system RAM. VRAM stores the graphical data required by the GPU, including textures, shaders, and frame buffers. Having dedicated VRAM ensures fast access to this data, improving performance and reducing the need to access system RAM.

Graphics cards have various interfaces and connectors to connect to displays, such as DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI, or VGA. These interfaces allow for high-definition video and audio transmission to the display device. Graphics cards may support multiple displays simultaneously, enabling users to connect and use multiple monitors for extended screen real estate.

Graphics cards require a substantial amount of power due to their intensive processing capabilities. They have connectors for power supply units (PSUs) to provide sufficient power. Additionally, graphics cards incorporate cooling solutions, such as fans, heatsinks, or liquid cooling systems, to dissipate heat generated during operation and prevent overheating.

To function properly, graphics cards require appropriate drivers and software. These drivers act as an interface between the operating system, applications, and the graphics card, ensuring compatibility and providing necessary optimizations. Graphics card manufacturers regularly release driver updates to improve performance, fix bugs, and introduce new features.

What are the Differences Between the GPU, Graphics, and Video Cards?

  GPU Graphics Card Video Card
Definition Specialized electronic circuitry designed for graphics processing. The physical component houses the GPU and other necessary details. Often used interchangeably with graphics cards, can also emphasize video-related tasks.
Functionality             Performs complex calculations for rendering images, videos, and graphical effects. Acts as an interface between the motherboard and the display, providing hardware acceleration for graphics processing. Handles processing, rendering, and displaying of graphics and videos. Can have specialized features for video-related tasks.
Components Consists of shader cores or stream processors, video memory (VRAM), and display controllers. Includes the GPU, VRAM, interfaces/connectors, power, and cooling solutions, and drivers/software. This may refer to the combination of GPU and VRAM and the physical component that houses them. Can have specialized features for video-related tasks.
Application Scope Refers to the electronic circuitry within the graphics card. Can refer to the physical component or the combination of GPU and VRAM. Can refer to the physical component or the combination of GPU and VRAM. Can have a specific emphasis on video-related tasks.
Usage Found in graphics cards and integrated into some CPUs (APUs). Used to enhance graphics processing capabilities in computers. Used to process, render, and display graphics and videos. Can have specialized features for video-related tasks.

GPU Vs Graphics Card Vs Video Card FAQs-

1. Is A GPU the same as a video card?

Ans: To put it simply, no. While a GPU is usually a preferred term for commercial graphics card use for gaming and to power an ultimate PC build, a video card is more of a display adapter unit focusing more on the video performance than the graphics. Sometimes, the term is also used for capture cards that are quite popular with content creators and streamers. These cards offer additional resources to the system to record or stream content without hampering the performance of the CPU or GPU.

2. Does every graphics card have a GPU?

Ans: Yes, every graphics card has a GPU. A graphics processing Unit is an essential component within a graphics card. It is specifically designed to handle and accelerate graphics processing tasks, such as rendering images, videos, and graphical effects. The GPU performs complex calculations and manipulates pixels to generate the visuals that appear on the screen. It consists of thousands of smaller processing units, known as shader cores or stream processors, which work in parallel to process graphics data efficiently.

3. How do I know what my GPU is?

Ans: Getting to know what GPU you have in your system is pretty straightforward. If you are a Windows computer, follow these steps:

*Press the Windows key + R to open the Run window.
*Type “dxdiag” and hit enter to execute the command. This will open the DirectX Tool Window. This is a built-in tool where you can find all the details of your system specifications.
*In this window, click on the “Display” tab.
*Look for the “Device” section, which will display the name of your GPU under the “Name” field.

Here’s how you can find your GPU if you are using macOS:

*Click on the Apple menu in the top-left corner of the screen and select “About This Mac.”
*In the window that appears, click on “System Report” or “System Information.”
*In the left sidebar, under “Hardware,” click on “Graphics/Displays.”
*You will see detailed information about your GPU on the right side, including the name and model.

You can also check out which GPU you have, even if you are using Linux by following these steps:

*Open a terminal window.
*Type the following command lspci -v | grep -i vga and press enter.
*This command will display information about your GPU, including the name and model.

4. How much GPU does a gaming PC need?

Ans: The GPU needed for a gaming PC depends on several factors, including the desired gaming resolution, the complexity of the games you intend to play, and your target frame rate. The higher the resolution you want to play games at, the more GPU power you will generally need. For example, gaming at 1080p (Full HD) requires less GPU power than gaming at 1440p (Quad HD) or 4K resolution. The frame rate refers to the number of frames displayed per second (fps). Higher frame rates provide smoother gameplay. You will need a more capable GPU if you aim for higher frame rates, such as 60 fps or 144 fps.


Today, we discussed the importance of graphics cards in modern computers. Graphics cards, also known as GPUs, are crucial in handling and accelerating graphics processing tasks. They are responsible for rendering images, videos, and graphical effects, providing enhanced visual experiences for users.

We also explored the differences between GPUs, graphics cards, and video cards. While the terms are often used interchangeably, GPUs specifically refer to the electronic circuitry designed for graphics processing. Graphics cards encompass the physical component housing the GPU and other necessary components like VRAM, interfaces, power and cooling solutions, and drivers/software. Video cards, on the other hand, can refer to the combination of the GPU and its accompanying VRAM, with an emphasis on video-related tasks.

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