Video cards translate your computer's output into a video signal your monitor can read. Similar to your computer, a video card has a processor of its own, called a graphics accelerator. The processor translates the digital information from your computer into a video signal. The video card and its graphics controller chips determine the images that your monitor can display.
Video cards can be further broken down into two classes: integrated (onboard) and dedicated.
Many PCs come with video cards built right onto their motherboards. These cards are also known as onboard video cards, as they tap the PC's system memory rather than providing their own separate video memory source. Memory is measured by RAM, and the more RAM a video card can use, the faster it can process and display information. Also, more RAM allows the card to display higher resolution images with sharper details and richer colors. Because sapping the system memory can slow your PC's video performance, integrated video chipsets have long been considered inferior to dedicated video cards.
Dedicated video cards are separate peripherals that need to be connected to your PC. Since they come with their own video memory, they are widely considered superior to integrated chipsets and are often the choice of users who need to support graphic-intensive programs like video games and multimedia software.
Many video card processors are designed with special processors for displaying 3D graphics. These processors provide more realistic animation, lighting and sharper graphics, especially for games and multimedia software.
There is little variation in the standard sound equipment that comes included in today's computer systems. PCs come with sound built into their motherboards or system chips, and many include adequate speakers. Such standard equipment may prove to be enough for your everyday computing needs. However, if you want premium sound, you may want to supplement your system's sound with a more powerful set of speakers or a surround-sound card.
In order to upgrade sound quality generated from inside your PC, you must install an expansion card. Such sound cards are designed to increase the clarity of your computer's sound whether you need 3D sound for gaming, exploring the Internet, or using multimedia applications. Some sound cards are specifically designed to expand the options you have when playing and editing music files, such as MP3s and WMAs downloaded from the Net. Consumers also have several options with regard to audio channels. Sound cards are available in standard stereo format, as well as 5.1 and even 7.1 surround sound.
From Internet conferencing to chatting with friends and online gaming, the potential uses for microphones have grown through the years. You can even record sound and music clips, and then edit and mix them with software.