Video Card vs Graphics Card: What Are The Major Differences?

Graphics cards and video cards stand out as crucial pieces of hardware in a computer. They both are used to display pictures on your computer’s screen, though they use slightly different methods to do it. So, what are the major differences between the video card vs graphics card comparison?

To know that, it’s crucial to understand the meaning of each component and what their roles are inside the CPU of a computer’s or PC’s system. It will assist you in understanding their differences in a better way. 

That’s why we’ve written this article after conducting comprehensive research across various websites to provide you with correct information. Keep reading to discover the major differences between these two components of the computer.

Introduction to A Video Card

The word “video card” is frequently used interchangeably with a graphics card. However, in some cases, it particularly points to a graphics card designed mainly for various video-related tasks like video editing and playback. The video card, similar to a circuit board, fits into a slot on the computer’s motherboard.

It’s responsible for sending picture data to the screen based on instructions from a microprocessor that is embedded into the video card. A monitor connects to the video card socket and the computer’s backside. A video card is a computer element that manages display elements like the speed of the pictures shown, resolution, and colors shown.

However, video cards can sometimes be incorporated straight into the CPU or motherboard, known as on-board or integrated cards. Originally, video cards were “dumb” and converted digital signals to analog signals, which the monitor then turned into images or text. 

A recent improvement in video cards is the arrival of graphics accelerators, which are video cards equipped with their own processors, much like a CPU. In 1981, IBM launched the first two video cards, which are CGA (Color Graphics Adapter) and MDA (Monochrome Display Adapter). 

Overall, a video card serves multiple purposes. These include managing high-quality resolution content, editing, controlling speed, and handling display settings for screens on monitors, PCs, projectors, computers, or televisions.

How do Video Cards Operate?

The video card holds its own special memory, separate from the main memory of the computer. Its memory is used to save the images and colors shown on the computer screen. In addition, this memory is used to save 3D models of pictures that will later appear on the screen. 

A video card works by retrieving data from the main memory of the computer and saving it in its own memory. Afterward, the video card retrieves the data from its memory and transfers it to a monitor, which then shows the information on the screen.

Introduction to A Graphics Card

A crucial hardware of your computer is a graphics card, which creates the images you see on the computer screen. It’s designed particularly for this task and often works alongside the computer’s CPU (central processing unit) to boost its overall computing power. A graphics card mainly contains RAM and a graphics processing unit (GPU) card.

It processes graphical data on your computer’s screen instantly. Furthermore, this card plays a significant role in gaming devices, as it enhances HD quality for pictures and videos while playing games. The graphics card connects to the motherboard of the computer as a separate dedicated part. 

It usually has its dedicated memory, known as VRAM, and connectors to connect with displays or monitors. This card collaborates with the motherboard and CPU to handle image processing, reducing the workload on the CPU and delivering enhanced graphical performance. 

If necessary, you can add numerous graphics cards to your computer or upgrade your existing one without changing other components, such as the CPU. Generally, a graphics card excels at processing workloads that can be simply parallelized due to its GPU’s multiple cores. 

Created for controlling visual or graphics tasks, graphics cards today handle various tasks that can be parallelized. IBM invented the first-ever graphics card in the 1990s. When it was invented, it served as a plug-in adapter for various CRT devices. Since then, Nvidia and AMD have been the major manufacturers of graphics cards.

How do Graphics Cards Operate?

Graphics cards are made to process data and information swiftly. They achieve this by linking to the computer’s CPU and motherboard through a circuit board called a PCI Express slot. The CPU sends data and information to the graphics card through a computer bus. 

Once received, the graphics card carries out calculations to figure out how the image should appear. Then, this data is transmitted to the motherboard of the computer and shown on the computer’s monitor.

Major Differences between Video Cards and Graphics Cards

Graphics cards and video cards serve different purposes. Also, there are many other aspects where these two types of cards generally differ. Below, we will discuss a few of them:

The Method of Processing Data

The main difference between a video card and a graphics card lies in how they process data. A video card processes data one by one in a sequence, while a graphics card processes multiple data simultaneously in parallel. It means that graphics cards are quicker compared to video cards when it comes to processing images. 

Video cards handle the task of transforming your computer’s data on displaying images into data that the monitor can comprehend. On the other side, graphics cards translate this data into the images you see on your screen.

Integrated Graphic Cards vs Video Cards

Though people often use the terms graphics cards and video cards interchangeably in today’s PCs, there’s a distinction between integrated graphics cards and video cards. An integrated graphics card is a type of graphics card that is made straight into the processor of the computer. 

Integrated graphics cards are more straightforward, affordable, and compact, and they consume less energy compared to their counterparts that are dedicated video cards. The dedicated video cards plug into the expansion slot of the motherboard. 

However, when it comes to performance, dedicated video cards generally outperform integrated graphics cards. It’s primarily because dedicated video cards contain their RAM, whereas graphic cards rely on the computer’s RAM.


A graphics card is primarily used in gaming consoles. It displays the images with a superior resolution and also supports 3D animation. On the other hand, a video card is used for tasks such as multimedia projects and video editing. It manages the display setting of your computer system.


The technology behind both video cards and graphics cards is similar. It involves a special circuit board that fits into an expansion slot on the motherboard. The video card component includes a visual processing unit (VPU), a graphics processing unit (GPU), and a heat sink to disperse the generated heat. 

Other parts of a video card comprise RAMDAC, video RAM, video BIOS, and a video input or output system. Some video cards are integrated straight into the motherboard, and they are known as on-board video cards. 

Meanwhile, graphic cards replace the GPU and RAM of a device, so they don’t come with the PC’s installation but as a PCB (printed circuit board) along with other parts. These other parts include a D-Sub, heat sink, video memory, firmware, digital visual interface (DVI), DisplayPort, high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI), and USB ports.


As anticipated, most video cards come with a higher price tag compared to graphics cards with similar specifications. It implies that certain high-grade graphics cards can be pricier than budget-friendly or inexpensive video cards.

Final Thoughts on Video Card vs Graphics Card

Graphics cards and video cards both have the same main job, which is to aid your computer to show images on the screen faster than it could do by itself. You may use these two types of cards interchangeably in most cases, but they are often used for different tasks. 

The most notable difference between them is that graphics cards manage the quality of videos and images, as well as improve the gaming experience, while video cards manage the resolution, colors shown, speed of displaying pictures, etc. We hope that this article about the video card vs graphics card helped you understand the differences between them.

David Huner
David Huner
I have completed my graduation from The University of Phoenix. Being a graduate, I’ve been writing on tech tips and products for several years. I love to write about all the latest trends in technology, as well as give my personal take on new products. If you’re looking for some inspiration or just want to read more articles like this one, check out our website!
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