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video adapter
color depth
frame buffer
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A board that plugs into a personal computer to give it display capabilities. The display capabilities of a computer, however, depend on both the logical circuitry (provided in the video adapter) and the display monitor. A monochrome monitor, for example, cannot display colors no matter how powerful the video adapter.

Many different types of video adapters are available for PCs. Most conform to one of the video standards defined by IBM or VESA.

Each adapter offers several different video modes. The two basic categories of video modes are text and graphics. In text mode, a monitor can display only ASCII characters. In graphics mode, a monitor can display any bit-mapped image. Within the text and graphics modes, some monitors also offer a choice of resolutions. At lower resolutions a monitor can display more colors.

Modern video adapters contain memory, so that the computer's RAM is not used for storing displays. In addition, most adapters have their own graphics coprocessor for performing graphics calculations. These adapters are often called graphics accelerators.

Video adapters are also called video cards, video boards, video display boards, graphics cards and graphics adapters.

Video RAM Required for Different Resolutions

256 colors (8-bit)
65,000 colors (16-bit)
16.7 million colors (24-bit, true color)
640x480512K 1 MB1 MB
800x600512K 1 MB2 MB
1,024x7681 MB 2 MB4 MB
1,152x1,0242 MB 2 MB4 MB
1,280x1,0242 MB 4 MB4 MB
1,600x1,2002 MB 4 MB6 MB

For pages about video adapter, . Also, check out the following links!

More Information

Outstanding Page Guide to video cards
Contains an introduction to video cards, including how they work, and numerous links to explanations on benchmarking and performance, chipsets, CPU, BIOS, and RAM. Updated on Aug 1, 1998

Outstanding Page PC Guide's video card reference
In-depth reference information for video cards. Looks at how the video card works in detail and includes sections on: video memory, interfaces, resolution and color modes, refresh, display standards, 3D computing, and performance issues.

Outstanding Page Video Cards
Describes the operation of the video card in general terms, and explains some basic concepts, including the main functions performed by the card. Also contains sections on interfaces, modes, memory, display standards, 3D video acceleration, full-motion video, and performance. This page is from "The PC Guide."

  3D Video Acceleration
Describes some of the concepts involved in 3D video, as well as the issues related to the new 3D accelerators on the market. This page is from "The PC Guide."

  Fast Graphics Site
Provides information on getting the best performance out of the graphic subsystem in a PC. Includes information on overclocking and tweaking 3D graphics cards, reviews and articles on the latest video cards, benchmarks, AGP information, and links to sites dealing with computer graphics performance.

  Hardware reference web site
Offers up-to-date information on computer hardware, including motherboard and video card reviews and benchmark tables, overclocking, industry news items, and hardware reference sites. Updated on May 13, 1998

  MIRAGE video solutions home page
This page highlights the MIRAGE product, a 128 bit fixed-frequency/high frequency multimedia video card. Updated on Jun 1, 1998

  PC Graphics Adapter Overview
Outlines the features and components of a modern PC video or graphics adapter. Includes graphics, diagrams and an integrated glossary. This page is from "The PC Technology Guide." Updated on Aug 5, 1998

  PC Mechanic's video cards page
Explains what a video card is and describes the different types of video standards. Updated on May 7, 1998

  Photon video cards for fixed frequency monitors
This the home page for the Photon company. Their Web site offers links to video card products for fixed-frequency monitors. Updated on Jul 21, 1998

  Troubleshooting Video Cards
Lists some typical problems related to video cards. Most of the problems described relate to specific setup issues with the video subsystem. This page is from "The PC Guide."

  Video Card Overview
Provides an overview of RAMDAC as well as information about unaccelerated and accelerated video cards, the video chipset, video BIOS, and video memory.

  Video Card Performance
Describes some of the factors relevant to determining a video card's performance including bit width, video memory, system interface, benchmarking video cards, and the importance of drivers. This page is from "The PC Guide."

  Video Modes, Resolution and Color
Describes the technical details of video modes and signals, as well as the major characteristics of the video image. This page is from "The PC Guide."


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