Video Cards Manufacturers: ATI, STB, Diamond, Intel, GeoForce

Video cards (video boards / video display boards / graphics cards / graphics adapter) is a physical hardware circuit board(s) which connects to the Motherboard. When the video card is connected to a monitor it serves as the visual link between you and your computer, allowing you to view and manage your computers software data.

Typical Video Card Connectors

VGA (Video Graphics Adapter)
use to connect analog monitors

DVI (Digital Video Interface)
use to connect digital monitors

HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface)

Display Port

Video Cards are usually

Built-in to the motherboard (Integrated Video Card)

PCI-e (The fastest and the most expensive)

AGP (Extremely Fast)

PCI (Fast)

ISA (Cheap and Slow)

Expansion Bus Chart:

Type of Bus Bits Wide Transfer Speed
ISA 8 bit 2.38MB/s
ISA 16 bit 8MB/s
PCI (Client) 32 bit 133MB/s
PCI (Server) 64 bit 266MB/s
AGP 1x 32 bit 266MB/s
AGP 2x 32 bit 533MB/s
AGP 4x 32 bit 1,066MB/s
AGP 8x 32 bit 2,133MB/s
AGP 8x
64 bit 4,266MB/s
Lane Widths Peak unidirectional bandwidth Peak full duplex bandwidth
x1 250MB/s 500MB/s
x2 500MB/s 1GB/s
x4 1GB/s 2GB/s
x8 2GB/s 4GB/s
x16 4GB/s 8GB/s
x32 (new) 8GB/s 16GB/s

Video Memory

32MB is a typical Video Memory if you are into gaming you will need more or you’re going to run the new Vista OS you are going to need at least 128MB
If your a gamer 512MB or more is needed to play those complex games

High End Video Card sometimes contain their own BIOS, memory, cooling mechanism, processor, S Video connector and a TV Tuner connector for connecting your video card to your television.
SLI nVidia Scalable Link Interface use for combining video cards ATI calls their Crossfire

Typical nVidia PCI-e Card

Direct X - is a collection of API’s for handling tasks related to Multimedia and Microsoft Platforms.

Types of Video Memory Speed
VRAM Fast (Obsolete)
WRAM Fast (Obsolete)
SDRAM Fast (Low End PCI/AGP)
DDR-SDRAM Very Fast (High End PCI/AGP)
G-DDR2-SDRAM Extremely Fast (High End AGP/PCI-e)
G-DDR3-SDRAM Extremely Fast (High End AGP/PCI-e)
G-DDR4-SDRAM Extremely Fast (High End AGP/PCI-e)
G-DDR5-SDRAM The fastest video card
(High End AGP/PCI-e)

VGA vs. SVGA vs. XGA

All video cards use VGA routines to generate basic display to interact with a PCs system BIOS. Then, any advancement on these routines with no universal standard to speak about, to generate display and color above 640x480 with 16 colors is considered SVGA or XGA. I believe I can state without exception all video cards sold in nearly a decade would be considered SVGA or XGA (LCD and Laptops), capable of displaying a larger realm of color and resolution than basic VGA or 640x480 - 16 colors.

Video Memory vs. Video Speed

One of the most misunderstood components of a video card is the Video Memory. Video memory does not equate to Video speed. Video speed is determined by two major factors: the chipset on the video card and the I/O slot holding the video card, (ISA. PCI, AGP, PCI-e). Video memory only determines the ability to display a certain color depth and resolution, such as 800x600-16million colors. There exists a mathematical formula to determine the required amount of memory on a video card to display varying degrees of color and resolutions, but let us suffice to say that a four (4MB) video card can display 1024x768-16million colors all that is required to work with photographic 2D images. Since it is rare today to find any video cards with less than 4MB/s of memory, this is not really much of an issue.

Video Card Default Resolution and Color support

VGA video graphics adapter
Resolution and Color Support
640x480 16
320x200 256

Resolution and Color Support
800x600 65,536
1024x768 256

XGA extensive Graphics Adapter (LCD and Laptops)
Resolution and Color Support
800x600 65,536
1024x768 256

Resolution and Color Support

WSXGA Wide Super XGA
Resolution and Color Support
1680x1050 65, 536

1600x1200 65,536

WUXGA Wide Ultra XGA
1920x1200 16,777,216

Color Support in Bits/Pixel Measurement

16 colors = 4-bit color
256 colors = 8-bit
65,536 colors =16-bit (high color mode)
16,777,216 = 24-bit (true color mode)
True colors = 32-bit (usually reserved for scanning)