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What Is a Graphics Chipset?

A graphics chipset powers both internal and external graphics cards.
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  • Written By: H. Bliss
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 19 August 2014
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A graphics chipset refers to the build of the circuit board that powers a graphics card. A graphics card is the device inside a computer that interprets graphics signals from the motherboard and sends them to the monitor, which is plugged into the graphics card. On a graphics card, the chipset is the flat circuitry-board part that is attached to the graphics connectors, which send visuals to the computer monitor.

The build of chipset is usually identified by its model number and manufacturer. Graphics chipset designs can be made to accommodate many demands for quality and input plug options. Some graphics cards can output different pictures to multiple connected monitors, while others are designed to handle three-dimensional (3D) graphics for movies and gaming. Manufacturers of graphics chipset builds for graphic cards include Intel®, nVidia® and Advanced Micro Devices® (AMD).

In systems designed for handling high-performance graphics, a graphics card can be elaborate, with a large chipset build completed with its own cooling fan to move hot air away from the graphics card. Both internal and external graphics cards need a graphics chipset to function. An external graphics card often connects via universal serial bus (USB) or Bluetooth®, but may have a tendency to respond more slowly than a built-in graphics cards. External graphics chipset designs usually require less cooling because they are not placed in the case with other hot hardware. Both internal and external graphics cards require a driver built for the right graphics chipset to run the device.

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The more advanced a graphic card is, the more system resources it needs to function. To keep the resource needs of a graphics card from overpowering the system, some graphics cards are build with their own random access memory (RAM) cards to give the computer's graphic functions a speed and quality boost. On computer systems with limited upgradable RAM, a graphics chipset with built-in RAM can open up options for higher-quality graphics cards, even on an older system.

Some basic computer setups include the graphics chipset as part of the motherboard. The motherboard is the main processing chip that handles computer commands. It is generally the largest chipset within a computer, and contains the main computer processing unit (CPU) that handles the commands that go through the computer motherboard. Systems with graphics cards built into the motherboard often also have the computer's audio functions included as a part of the motherboard as well. Onboard motherboard-bound graphics cards cannot be removed when they are replaced, but they can be disabled to install a new graphics card.

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