Perhaps you’ve heard of a graphics card. You may know it’s a part of your computer, but you’re not sure what it really is. But don’t worry. We’ll give you a simple explanation that helps you easily understand what a graphics card is and what it actually does.

What is a graphics card?

Graphics card is also known as video card. It’s an expansion card plugged into your computer that handles what your computer displays on your computer screen.

What a graphics card looks like.

How does a graphics card work?

The core of a graphics card is a chip called GPU (graphics processing unit). GPU is responsible for displaying images to your computer screen.

GPU receives instructions and data on displaying an image from the CPU (central processing unit, the command and control center of your computer). Then it processes the data and tells the computer screen what to display. And your computer screen receives the signals from the GPU and displays the image.

Do I need a graphics card?

The answer depends on what type of GPU you have and what are you going to do with it.

In fact, it’s the GPU that is necessary for you. A graphics card is just an expansion card that contains a GPU. There’s an alternative to it called integrated graphics adapter. That is basically a GPU integrated to your CPU or motherboard (the base board in your computer that connects all your hardware together).

AMD’s Ryzen CPU with integrated graphics

So if you don’t have any graphics card or adapter, you definitely need a graphics card.

But if you do, then you should know how you’re going to use your computer:

  • Under normal conditions, there is no need for a graphics card. Your computer display will work just fine with integrated graphics.
  • Under demanding conditions, such as gaming, an integrated graphics adapter is usually not enough for you. You should consider buying a graphics card with a powerful GPU.
Don’t know what GPU you’re using? Check this guide to learn how to know that.

Don’t know what graphics card you should use? There are usually “system requirements” for a program or game. Those are the information on the minimum hardware requirements for you to run the program. They are usually listed on the program/game web page.

Is there anything else I need if I have a graphics card installed?

To make sure your graphics card works smoothly, you should check that the device driver for your graphics card is up to date. This is important especially if you use your computer to run demanding programs, such as games.

There are two ways to update your graphics card driver:

Download and install your drivers manually – You can update your driver manually by going to your graphics card or adapter manufacturers’ website, and searching for the latest driver for your device. But if you take this approach, be sure to choose the driver that’s compatible with the exact model number of your hardware, and your version of Windows.

or

Download and install your drivers automatically – If you don’t have the time, patience or computer skills to update your driver manually, you can, instead, do it automatically with Driver Easy. You don’t need to know exactly what system your computer is running, you don’t need to risk downloading and installing the wrong driver, and you don’t need to worry about making a mistake when installing. Driver Easy handles it all.

  1. Download and install Driver Easy.
  2. Run Driver Easy and click the Scan Now button. Driver Easy will then scan your computer and detect any problem drivers.

  3. Click the Update button next to your graphics card to download the correct version of its driver, then you can manually install it. Or click the Update All button at the bottom right to automatically update all the drivers. (This requires the Pro version — you will be prompted to upgrade when you click Update All. You get full support and a 30-day money back guarantee.)
    You can do it for free if you like, but it’s partly manual.
If you need assistance, please contact Driver Easy’s support team at support@drivereasy.com.
Hopefully you have a clear understanding of graphics card. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave us a comment below!
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