A VGA Card – also known as a video/display card or graphics adapter – is utilised in order to process and generate an output image feed to a computer monitor or display. Linking up with a computer’s motherboard, a video card contains a cooling mechanism, processing unit, connections to a display device, and its own memory.
Typically, low-spec computer systems possess motherboard- or central processing unit- (CPU) integrated graphics in order to produce output images. However, a dedicated video card significantly improves the quality of the graphics created – in fact, a discrete video card is required to accurately render 3D graphics. This is especially important when working with photos, videos, and games.
Much like a motherboard or micro-computer, a video card is a printed circuit board that comes equipped with its own processing unit and memory. This effectively takes over the intense workload from the motherboard's CPU and memory banks, enabling the video card to process images itself. The particular processing unit found on a video card is known as a GPU - a graphics processing unit. Though incredibly similar to a CPU, the GPU is designed and optimised to process video, graphics, and images. A video card’s memory can be likened to a motherboard’s regular RAM (Random Access Memory): the card connects to a computer system’s motherboard through a slot – typically a Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe) connection or an AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port).
As high-performance video cards produce significant amounts of heat, they routinely employ heat sinks. Consisting of metal strips located directly on top of the GPU, heat sinks work to efficiently distribute the heat produced by a video card’s operation evenly across the card’s surface in addition to scattering the heat into the surrounding air. A small yet powerful fan can also be added for additional cooling benefits.