Help Me Choose: Video Card

Whether you’re gaming, watching DVDs or editing video on your Dell desktop, the quality of the graphics you experience is only as good as your video card.

Along with the display, the video card affects the number of colors available, contrast, resolution and overall performance.

How Video Cards Work
Discrete video cards can provide better performance, as compared to integrated video cards. Discrete video cards are separate from the motherboard and include a specialized graphics processing unit (GPU). Because of their onboard GPU, discrete video cards don’t have to share the CPU with other programs.

Discrete video cards include memory of their own, measured in gigabytes (GB). Graphics memory is used by the GPU to accelerate graphics performance, store textures using game graphics, and make gaming, movies and other entertainment intensely realistic. High-performance graphics cards require a significant amount of graphics memory.

Integrated video cards are built in to the system motherboard and use the system’s processor (CPU) and memory to create graphics. Integrated video cards are fine for applications such as word processing and email, and for the internet, but not great for gaming or other graphic-intensive applications.

While integrated video cards can process some complex graphics such as 3D images, they have to share the CPU and memory with other programs. If the CPU and memory are overloaded or busy processing other information, it can really slow down the graphics.

 

The system you are configuring may or may not include all of the options listed here.

If you want ...Choose ...
To tackle complex graphics, applications and gaming, a discrete video card can handle all the applications an integrated card can handle, plus:
  • Complex presentations
  • Graphics design
  • Financial analysis
  • High-resolution video
  • Videoconferences
  • Dual monitor setup
A single discrete video card
An entry-level solution for typical office productivity applications, internet use, relatively small digital images, low-resolution video, simple games and other relatively undemanding applications, integrated video cards are generally acceptable for:
  • Word processing
  • Instant messaging
  • Small presentations
  • Spreadsheets
An integrated video card

 
 

NVIDIA® GeForce® G310 512MB DDR3 

ATI Radeon™ HD 5450 1GB DDR3 

ATI Radeon HD 5670 1GB GDDR5 

ATI Radeon HD 5770 1024MB GDDR5 

ATI Radeon HD 5870 1GB GDDR5 

ATI Radeon HD 5970 2GB GDDR5 

NVIDIA GeForce GT620 1GB DDR3 

AMD Radeon
HD 7570 1GB GDDR5
 

NVIDIA GeForce GT 640
1GB GDDR5

NVIDIA
GTX 850M
2GB DDR3
(Aprilia Discrete #1)
NVIDIA
GTX 870M
3GB GDDR5
(Aprilia Discrete #2)
AMD Radeon™ HD 8690A AMD
Radeon™
R5 A240
(caspian)
UMA/AMD
Radeon
R7 M270
(Thun)
Intel® HD Graphics 4000 
Discrete Memory 

512MB DDR3 

1024MB DDR3 

1024MB DDR5 

1024MB DDR5 

1024MB DDR5 

2GB DDR5 

1024MB DDR3 

1024MB GDDR5 

1024MB GDDR5 

2GB DDR33GB GDDR52048MB GDDR5 1GB DDR32GB DDR3 System dependent (Shared Memory)
Controller Speed 

589MHz 

650MHz 

775MHz 

775MHz 

850MHz 

725MHz 

810MHz 

650MHz 

950MHz 

902MHz~ (dynamic change)941MHz~(dynamic change) 750MHz800~1030MHz675~825MHz650MHz 
Onboard Memory Speed 

790MHz 

800MHz 

1.0GHz 

1.0GHz 

1.0GHz 

1.0GHz 

898MHz 

800MHz 

1250MHz 

900MHz1250MHz1000MHz 1GHz1GHzSystem dependent (Shared Memory) 
Onboard Memory Data Width 

64-bit 

128-bit

256-bit 

256-bit 

256-bit 

256-bit 

64-bit 

128-bit 

128-bit 128-bits192-bits64-bit 64-bits128-bits128-bit 
API Supported 

DirectX® 10.1
OpenGL® 2.0 

DirectX 11
OpenGL 3.2 

DirectX 11
OpenGL 3.2 

DirectX 11
OpenGL 3.2     

DirectX 11
OpenGL 3.2 

DirectX 11
OpenGL 3.2 

DirectX 11
OpenGL 4.1 

DirectX 11
OpenGL 4.1 

DirectX 11
OpenGL 4.1 

DirectX 11.1
OpenGL 4.1 
DirectX
11.1 
Slot Requirements 

1PClex16 

2.0 Gen PClex16 

2.0 Gen PClex16 

 2.0 Gen PClex16

2.0 Gen PClex16 

2.0 Gen PClex 16 

2.1 Gen PCIex16 

2.1 Gen PCIex16 

3.0 Gen PCIex16 

3.0 Gen PCIex163.0 Gen PCIex16PCIe Gen.3 x8 3.0 Gen PCIex163.0 Gen PCIex16N/A 
Maximum Resolution 

1920 x 1200 VGA
1920 x 1200 HDMI™
2560 x 1200 DVI 

1920 x 1200 HDMI
2560 x 1600 DVI
2048 x 1536 VGA 

2048 x 1536 VGA
1920 x 1200 HDMI
2560 x 1600 DVI 

2048 x 1536 VGA
1920 x 1200 HDMI
2560 x 1600 DVI 

2048 x 1536 VGA
1920 x 1200 HDMI
2560 x 1600 DVI

2048 x 1536 VGA
1920 x 1200 HDMI
2560 x 1600 DVI 

1920 x 1200HDMI
2560 x 1600 DVI
2048 x 1536 VGA

2048 x 1536 VGA
1920 x 1200 HDMI
2560 x 1600 DVI 
2560 x 1600 DP
1920 x 1200 HDMI
2560 x 1600 DVI 
 Dependent upon APU/EGU Capabilities2560 x 1600 

Important Information:
Graphics and system memory: GB means 1 billion bytes and TB equals 1 trillion bytes; significant system memory may be used to support graphics, depending on system memory size and other factors.