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In a computer, a graphics processing unit is a chip that handles all functions related to what displays on the screen. GPUs are found in almost every computer today. A new GPU can speed your computer up, but the extent to which it does so depends on many factors. You should first understand a GPU’s role to determine whether or not it speeds up your computer. The question is: will upgrading graphics card improve performance?
A Brief History of the GPU
- Graphics chips had existed since the late 1970s when consoles such as the RCA “Pixie” were introduced. However, the modern understanding of a GPU originates from when PCs began using graphical user interfaces. Before the GPU, all information flowed through the processor — data related to a program’s function and the visual information displayed. With the rise in the popularity of three-dimensional games, a bottleneck developed. Graphics processing such as 3-D rendering was handled by GPUs and video cards marketed as 3-D, while the CPU handled more difficult physics calculations. To prevent CPU bog down, GPUs have always made computers run faster.
Adding a GPU
- One of the fastest ways to increase performance is to replace an onboard GPU with a new one. The term onboard GPU refers to a motherboard that includes a graphics processor. A GPU must have access to random access memory or RAM to function. Onboard graphics cards are generally slower than external graphics cards and use a portion of the system’s RAM for graphics. A separate GPU card gives you access to a faster GPU in addition to providing video RAM. Multitasking and graphics processing will be improved.
Replacing or Upgrading an Existing Graphics card
- If your computer already has a separate GPU, you can increase performance by increasing power. GPUs are also measured by their clock speed, the amount of VRAM included, and the rate at which they can communicate. The number of pixel pipelines and the graphics libraries supported are also crucial factors. By upgrading your card, you will see a performance improvement in modern, graphics-intensive operating systems, primarily for interaction. For example, dragging a window containing a video will not stutter it, and clicking a menu may cause it to animate more smoothly. At this point, the most significant performance increases can be seen in computer games using 3-D graphics libraries such as OpenGL or Direct3D.
- Extreme gamers can install two graphics cards simultaneously. As AMD’s Crossfire and Nvidia’s SLI, these proprietary technologies allow multiple graphics cards to work together simultaneously, much like a multiprocessor. The benefits of adding GPU are primarily confined to computer games, as the technology separates 3-D rendering from physics calculations. Various graphics-based programs, such as video editing software, can also benefit from multiple GPUs.
You can breathe new life into an old computer by upgrading the video card. The latest games and operating systems rely heavily on graphical user interfaces, so old graphics cards are slowed down by these pieces of software. Since graphics memory is not stored on a card like other types of data, you are upgrading your graphics card is the only way to add more space to your computer. It only takes a few minutes to replace a graphics card.
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