The video card, otherwise called the graphics card, is the PC component that enables your computer monitor to display graphics onscreen. It can significantly affect the speed at which your computer can run graphics-intensive applications.
If you run too many animated applications at the same time on a computer equipped with a low-performance graphics card, the applications will become choppy and render poor picture quality. This is because your graphics card is having difficulty handling its workload. Eventually, you will burn out your video card. If you want to use demanding graphics-rich software or play the latest 3D games, you need to replace your graphics card with a higher-end one.
Like other vital computer components, your choice of graphics cards is limited by what your motherboard supports. Old motherboards only have one Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) slot, which can only accept AGP video cards. Modern motherboards will have a Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe) slot that allows the use of the more modern PCIe video cards. When replacing your graphics card, always check out which type of card your motherboard supports. Otherwise, your replacement video card may not be compatible with your motherboard and you will not be able to use it.
For the avid PC gamer, you may as well replace your motherboard if you only sport an AGP slot. AGP video cards are not as fast as PCI Express video cards and you may experience poor frame rates when you are playing a high action game and surrounded by a lot of enemies and non-player characters.
In addition to taking note of the type of card that you need, also take into consideration the size of the video card. If your computer case is jammed with other computer hardware, you will have trouble fitting a large video card inside the case.
Considering that high-end video cards are pricey, do not bother with a video card upgrade if you do not need it. The built-in card inside your computer motherboard is powerful enough to run office applications, surf the Net, play movies, and do all the other things that an average computer user does.