GPU vs Graphics Card vs Video Card: Are there any differences?

Back September 09,2022

When you talk about GPUs, Graphics cards and Video cards there is always a sense of confusion. Are they the same or all of these are different? There is no right or wrong in this situation. All of these terms are often used interchangeably due to the fact that they have similar meaning and functionalities. It can be said that GPUs, Graphics cards and Video cards are the same but not same as well. It all depends on the context they are used in.

Alright, I can hear you! You are more confused than ever and the context, why does it matter? Well, if you are having a random conversation with a friend about the newly released products by Nvidia or AMD you might use any of these terms, they all mean the same. But if you were to go to a computer store and swap these terms, you might end up getting an entirely different product. So, let’s start from the basics and dive right into what all of these are.

What is a GPU?

A GPU or also known as a graphics processing unit is a small flat chip that is made up of multiple circuit logics and cores that can be programmed. These chips can not function without memory and power allocation therefore are often placed into your cpu making them integrated GPU and sometimes on its own printed circuit board. An integrated graphics processing unit utilizes the memory and power of your computer with other components installed in your computer. However, when installed on its own PCB, it is no longer a GPU but is now a graphics card.

What is a Graphics Card?

By now you must have understood that a GPU can not function on its own. It needs hardware support that ensures that the chip is supplied with enough power and memory to function properly and deliver adequate performance. A graphics card is a complete package which includes a PCB, a GPU and all other components such as VRAM(video memory), power management systems and cooling mechanisms. Simply put, it is a dedicated piece of hardware that performs the same tasks as an integrated GPU but better, all thanks to the hardware attached to it.

Therefore, a GPU is a small chip whereas a graphics card is an external piece of hardware that connects with your computer through PCLe ports on your motherboard. You can even connect multiple graphics cards together on a single motherboard. The reason graphics cards are more popular when compared to integrated GPUs is not only because of better performance but also because they can be replaced and upgraded without changing the rest of the components of your computer. While graphics cards were initially introduced to handle graphic intensive processing, they are now an essential component of a computer and are used for multiple reasons.

What is a Video Card?

As the name suggests, video cards are a piece of hardware that are designed to handle video related processing. Video cards are mostly involved in workloads where you need to process a video, stream it or edit it. These cards are specifically designed by keeping in mind video codecs so that they can decode and encode video faster. A video card can easily outperform a graphics card in video processing. They have a higher bit depth that enables them to process the video at a faster rate while keeping the resolution consistent and high.

All in all, a video card can render videos, edit them, process them and output them.

What’s the difference between a GPU, Graphics Card, and a Video Card?

To begin with, all three are different types of hardware. A GPU is a chip more like a microprocessor. A graphics card is an external piece of hardware that can be attached to your PC similar to other hardware components. A video card is similar to a graphics card but is specifically used for video processes.

Usually, people use these terms as a substitute for one another which is not wrong as long as you know what you are talking about. If you are looking to buy any of these, it is always a better idea to understand the kind of workload you would encounter before getting your hands on one.

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