With Radeon, AMD video cards leave all other graphics cards behind

With Radeon, AMD video cards leave all other graphics cards behind

Posted 09.14.2009 in Articles by Epicenter

When it comes to getting the best graphics and quality display for you computer, you have to look beyond just upgrading the monitor. The graphics (video) card is an expansion that you can add to your computer to generate accelerated 3D and 2D graphics, and AMD's Radeon line has been a leader in producing the best quality display.

Video cards, formerly known as graphics cards, are expansion devices that are installed into a personal computer. Although low-end video cards are often built into a computer's motherboard, high-performance adapters are typically installed into the PCI-Express x16 slot. This card takes the data presented by the computer and converts it into a form that can be understood by a monitor. Modern video cards also contain a specialized vector processor called a "GPU" that is able to generate 2D and 3D graphics at an incredible rate.

Modern video cards, specifically AMD's Radeon line of products, contain hardware and software mechanisms to improve image quality. By using the latest Catalyst driver package, you can tweak your system's color saturation, gamma and many other options. Antialiasing and anisotropic filtering help to reduce the jagged edges common in 3D models. Hardware-accelerated filters are able to remove interlacing artifacts, digital noise and even "shaky cam" fluctuations.

Most modern video cards are designed for the PCI-Express X16 slot. Cards designed for the PCI and AGP slots are outdated and rarely used. Video performance is affected by many factors. The most important are the GPU architecture, GPU clock speed, amount of video RAM, video RAM speed, and on-card bus speed. Powerful Radeon-series graphics cards usually include 512 megabytes of video RAM or more and have a 256-bit or wider data bus.

The video card is installed into the PCI-Express X16 expansion slot. If the slot is vacant, the bracket that covers this port will need to be removed with a phillips-type screwdriver. The card is plugged into this slot gently but firmly. Once plugged in, the card is secured using the same screw. Afterwards, the latest Catalyst driver software must be installed.

AMD manufactures the Radeon series of graphics cards. The technology that they utilize is based on the work of ATi. ATi was formerly a graphics card manufacturer that competed primarily with nVidia. Radeon is the brand name that represents AMD's graphics cards.

In addition to the Radeon series, AMD produces "FirePro" graphics cards. These are designed for high-end 3D workstations. They are known for producing higher-accuracy images by focusing less on high frame rates.

The Radeon series primarily consists of the HD 5000, 6000 and 7000 categories. The first digit indicates the performance class in which that product competes. The following three digits indicate specifics about the hardware. All current Radeon cards include 2D/3D graphics and video decoding acceleration. Radeon cards are known to excel at computer gaming and HD video playback.

The Radeon series continues to improve with the addition of more-efficient transistor processes, higher clock rates, architectural advancements, wider memory buses, higher bus clock rates and superior driver software. Radeon cards vary in price between $29 for the HD 5450, which is the cheapest available model, and $700 for the Radeon 7970, which is the most advanced on the market.

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