GPU Guide

Introduction

The goal of this page is to teach you a thing or two about graphics cards, and it assumes you don't know much yet.

Introduction

A graphics card, sometimes referred to as a GPU or "video card", is an essential part of every gaming device. The graphics card is the polar opposite of the CPU (such as an i3 or Athlon). Like CPUs, they're responsible for crunching numbers, but the way they operate is very different: graphics cards are given the sole task of handling parallel and constant workloads - something the CPU just isn't good at doing efficiently. It just so happens that games are exactly that: highly parallel, constant workloads. Every single geometric triangle (which modern games have somewhere in the millions), every single pixel (lighting, shading), and every single ray of light has to be re-drawn every single frame. When re-drawn at a fast enough rate (ideally 60+FPS), it gives the illusion of movement. It's truly to imagine that modern graphics cards are capable of drawing an entire scene that resembles real life, at a very high resolution, 60 times a second.

The Bigger, The Better

Some graphics cards are small and weak. That's okay, not everyone needs to run DOOM at 8k. Some are big and powerful, and that's great - GPU manufacturers make healthy amounts of money from selling those monsters, which helps fund the coming generations of cards.

Many Forms

GPUs come in many forms. In low-end desktops, low-end laptops, netbooks, phones, tablets, consoles, and other low-end computers, the GPU is integrated, which means it's not placed on a separate component with its own private and dedicated resources - VRAM (video RAM), voltage regulators, pipelines, and more. Instead, an integrated GPU is included in the same chip as the CPU. Instead of getting its own resources, it shares memory and power with the CPU, and predictably gets much less work done.

Understanding terminology

  • GPU - Graphics Procession Unit - is a specialized electronic circuit designed to rapidly manipulate pixels and creation of images in a frame buffer, which is sent to the display when it's done being drawn.

Things to avoid

Things to seek