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Video Adapter

Vangie Beal
Last Updated August 25, 2022 11:58 pm

A video adapter is 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.

Read on to learn more about what video adapters are, how they work, and some of the best video adapter options on the market today.

Today’s 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 Adapter Vendors and Products to Consider

Depending on your price point and the quality of graphics that you need, a variety of video adapter solutions are available to meet your needs. These are some of the most popular video adapter options across brands and use cases:

Also see Understanding Video and Graphics Adapters in Webopedia’s “Did You Know…?” section.