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Epox EP-8KHA+ with Socket 462 Mainboard
The pages contained within this section explain concepts associated with PC video cards.
   
On This Page:
OnPageLink AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port)
OnPageLink PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect)
OnPageLink Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCI-E).
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Introductions And Overviews Overview Of Desktop Resolution History Of The Video Card Introduction To Video Ram Troubleshooting Video Card Manufacturers
Video Card Interfaces Buyer's Guide To Video Cards How To Replace A Video Cards Video Card Troubleshooting Conclusions  
   

Video Card Interfaces

A video card is designed using one of the three formats listed below:


The AGP slot is a bus type supporting only video display adapters. It is impossible to mount a sound card, network card, or modem into an AGP slot, since the architecture of the AGP bus simply doesn't support it.

AGP is a standard that is quickly being phased out by the faster PCI-Express bus type.

AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port) Illustration

The AGP bus provides is the quickest way for video cards to communicate with other components in a personal computer.

AGP is most common on newer Pentium III or faster machines as today’s software is increasing the need for a powerful graphics accelator.

AGP has been designed to dramatically improve the processing of 3-D graphics and full-motion video. Designed by the Intel corporation, AGP is a high performance interface directed at high end 3D graphical applications and games.

The AGP technology differs from other video card technologies in that it holds all images in the main system memory, freeing the memory onboard the video card to do other things. One major advantage over the PCI bus, is the fact that AGP runs approximately 4X faster then the standard PCI bus.

It is also important to note that 4X AGP connections provide up to eight times the bandwidth of the original AGP specification.

While the average PCI video card runs at 33Mhz, AGP runs four times faster. The AGP video card is only supported by Pentium II systems equipped with a special AGP expansion slot on the motherboard. AGP slots look different in that they are positioned a little further to the right on a motherboard.

The AGP inteface requires a certain set of software drivers to function properly. Windows 95 and Windows NT can be modified to support the AGP technology, and Windows 98 has the support built in to the operating system. Windows 2000, XP, and Vista all have built in support for the AGP interface but it's always wise to install device drivers released by the manufacturer of a particular video card for best performance.

The following list summarizes several system requirements demanded by the AGP bus interface:

    1. The chipset on the motherboard must support AGP.
    2. The motherboard must be equipped with an AGP bus slot or have an integrated AGP graphics system.
    3. The operating system must be the OSR 2.1 version of Windows 95, Windows 98 or Windows NT 5.0.

PCI is not a favoured method for connecting a PC's video system since the PCI relies heavily on other system components, including the motherboard and CPU.

Although PCI is limited to five connectors, it is possible for a processor to support more than one bridge chip thus enabling a motherboard to have up to seven PCI slots. 

Originally planned, the PCI bus ran at 33 MHz but was later revised to run at a 66 MHz bus speed to allow for increased performance. The PCI bus running at 32 bits and at a 33 MHz clock speed has a total throughput rate of 133 MBPS whereas an AGP bus can transmit data at a theoretical 1.5 Gbps (1500 Megabytes) bus rate, more than fifteen times the speed of PCI.

The Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) Bus Type

At one point, PCI based video cards were the only thing available to personal computers. PCI quickly evolved to become a standard bus interface in PC’s but is not a favourite bus type for video cards.


Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCI - E)

The Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) Bus Type

PCI Express is the newest bus type developed by the Intel Corporation®, that doubles the AGP8X specification, delivering a four gigabyte (GB) per second upstream and downstream data transfer capability.

PCI-E express is the latest video card technology providing the fastest method of controlling a video system in a computer.

 
What's On Board?

A video card is equipped with a number of connectors which are summarized in the list below:

  1. SVGA 15 Pin monitor connector.
  2. Video card chipset.
  3. Video card heatsink.
  4. Video card fan.
  5. Bus connector.
  6. Chip circuitry.

Click on any area of the video card pictured to the right to get more information about how the part works.

Typical Nvidia Based Video card
 
Video Card Troubleshooting:

The following documents will help you troubleshoot some common video card related problems.

DOCUMENT REFERENCE DOCUMENT DESCRIPTION URL
VCTS_01 This document outlines the most common video and graphics card system problems. View this article now by clicking this go button.
VCTS_02 This document outlines  basic requirements required for AGP support in a system. View this article now by clicking this go button.
VCTS_03 This document attempts to answer the problem of a system booting into safe due to a of a compatibility issue between the video card drivers and DirectX 9 system files. View this article now by clicking this go button.
VCTS_04 This document outlines the different voltages and frequencies used by different kinds of AGP based video cards. View this article now by clicking this go button.
VCTS_05 This document outlines some common problems installing adapter cards in a Windows XP based computer system. View this article now by clicking this go button.
VCTS_06 This document outlines possible solutions to an AGP video card working in PCI mode only. View this article now by clicking this go button.
VCTS_07 This document outliness why using a riser card is a good way to free up space in a computer's tower. View this article now by clicking this go button.
VCTS_08 This document attempts to explain why a new AGP video/graphics card may cause a working PC to randomly freeze or not boot up properly. View this article now by clicking this go button.
VCTS_09 This document attempts to explain why a new video display adapter causes various types of distortion to occur. View this article now by clicking this go button.
VCTS_010 This document attempts to explain analog video signals. View this article now by clicking this go button.
VCTS_011 This document attempts to explain concepts associated with analog and  digital video as well as DVB based peripheral devices. View this article now by clicking this go button.
VCTS_012 This document attempts to explain what a VGA-to-DVI adapter is and why you might need to purchase one?  View this article now by clicking this go button.
VCTS_013 This document attempts to explain why a particular PC game may cause the system to shut down randomly without any errors or warning messages. View this article now by clicking this go button.
VCTS_014 This document attempts to explain why an installed wireless network card causes a startup problem and why the video system in the PC might be to blame. View this article now by clicking this go button.
VCTS_015 This document attempts to explain why Windows Movie Maker will not work properly. View this article now by clicking this go button.
VCTS_016 Why can't I install a Hauppauge TV tuner card? View this article now by clicking this go button.
VCTS_017 A video/graphics card problem problem caused by a buggy BIOS View this article now by clicking this go button.
VCTS_018 I can't update the video/graphics card drivers for my Tiny notebook/laptop computer View this article now by clicking this go button.
VCTS_019 How is a projector connected to a notebook/laptop computer? View this article now by clicking this go button.
VCTS_020 Why can't I use Windows Movie Maker to play my home movies? View this article now by clicking this go button.
VCTS_021 What to do when video files in the AVI format won't play View this article now by clicking this go button.
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