Why do I need a Video Card?
Video cards can do as little as giving your system an oomph in your day-to-day desktop operations bu making applications load faster and render smoother, or they do as much run the latest games at HD resolution or higher across multiple displays. Able to render 2D and especially 3D graphics with generally higher performance than CPUs, graphics cards can give your system the extra juice it needs to play your game, run your design application, or just give your workstation a smoother user experience.
What are different options for Video Cards
Options for video cards are widely varied. There are cards for mainstream PC users that simply help the graphical interface of applications render faster, and perform other behind-the-scenes functions to allow for an overall improved user experience. Mid-range cards are for those that might like to play some games, watch HD movies, or do some lighter graphics work, such as still image editing. Then there are enthusiast and performance level video cards, which are aimed at those that play 3D games avidly, create 3D models and animations, edit and render video, or even perform overclocking, which has world-wide competitions and quite a following.
Gamers will often use the latest NVIDIA GeForce and AMD Radeon cards to make sure their systems can perform at the top of their game, while professional designers, architects and 3D artists might be more in the market for NVIDIA Quadro and AMD FirePro GPUs. There are also TV tuner cards that can allow you to view and record regularly broadcast programming right on your desktop computer. Depending on the applications and general use of your system, the options for video cards can be very broad.
Are there unique things a GPU can do that CPUs can't perform?
Oftentimes a video card will include proprietary technologies that your system just wouldn't be able to do otherwise. These can include such things as recording video or game footage, high-performance 3D rendering, advanced multi-monitor support, and if you're really up for it, Bitcoin mining.
What are some things to keep in mind when looking for a Video Card?
Other options to keep in mind when purchasing a video card are the type of video input (i.e. VGA, DVI-I, DVI-D, HDMI, Display Port) on the monitor you'll be using, technologies supported by the GPU (i.e. AMD CrossFire, NVIDIA SLI, OpenGL, DirectX, etc.), as well as the bus type used to connect the card to your system's motherboard(i.e PCI, PCI-Express, etc.). The type and capacity of video memory (i.e. DDR3, GDDR5 clock rate specs, etc; 512MB, 2GB etc.) included on the graphics card is also a paramount factor in selecting the right card for your system.