Video card

Updated: 11/16/2019 by Computer Hope
Video cards

Alternatively known as a display adapter, graphics card, video adapter, video board, or video controller, a video card is an expansion card that connects to a computer motherboard. It is used to create a picture on a display; without a video card, you would not be able to see this page. More plainly, it's a piece of hardware inside your computer that processes images and video, some of the tasks normally handled by the CPU. Video cards are used by gamers in place of integrated graphics due to their extra processing power and video ram.

A visual overview of a computer video card

Below are two visual examples of what a video card may look like inside of a computer. First is a picture of an older model AGP video card with multiple types of connections and components on it. Second is an example of a more modern PCI Express video card used with today's gaming computers.


Some motherboards may also use an onboard video card, which means the video card is not a separate expansion card like those shown below.

Video card

PCIe video card

Video card ports

The pictures above also help illustrate the types of video ports used with video cards. For more information about any of these ports, click the links below.

In the past, VGA or SVGA was the most popular connection used with computer monitors. Today, most flat-panel displays utilize DVI or HDMI connectors.

Video card expansion slots (connections)

A video card expansion slot is where the card connects to the motherboard. In the picture above, the video card is inserted into the AGP expansion slot on the computer motherboard. Over the development of computers, there were several types of expansion slots used for video cards. Today, the most common expansion slot for video cards is PCIe, which replaced AGP, which replaced PCI, which replaced ISA.


Some OEM computers and motherboards may have a video card onboard or integrated into the motherboard.

Can I install more than one video card?

Yes. Both AMD Radeon (utilizing CrossFire) and NVIDIA GeForce (utilizing SLI) cards are capable of running two or more video cards together.

Adapter, Connection, CUDA, Dedicated graphics, GPU, Hardware terms, Output device, Processing device, Video accelerator, Video card terms