One of the most important components of a computer, when it comes to graphic applications, is the video card. Running video applications is a resource-intensive job. Unlike other operations, processing and rendering graphics takes up a considerable part of the working memory and processing power of your desktop and laptop computer. Hence, a video card comes with a built-in GPU (graphic processing unit) and RAM, which is completely dedicated to graphic processing. If you are using one for graphic-intensive tasks like playing 3D games or video editing, you need to ensure that it lives up to your performance expectations.
What is a Stress Test?
Stress testing any machine or computer hardware part, is to make extreme demands on its capabilities in every possible way. Like speeding a motorcycle on a steep slope, subjecting a video card to high resolution rendering at high number of frames per second is a stress test.
To select the best one, you must subject it to conditions which are similar to highly graphic-intensive applications. You need to test the ruggedness and stability of the card under sustained heavy load.
Running the Test
Only through a stress test can you determine the performance capability of a video card. The best way to do so is to subject its GPU to actual processing tasks. By subjecting it to a range of workload tasks, from low, moderate to high, you will know if the card has intensive graphic processing capability. Here are two ways.
Use a Software
There are specialized software programs designed to run tests. One of the best software programs that can effectively let you test a video card is FurMark. It is an OpenGL benchmark testing software, exclusively developed for that purpose.
Using fur rendering algorithms, it can test and record all the vital parameters for you. It has a stability and benchmark testing mode, and it monitors GPU temperature changes. If you really want to systematically analyze the performance of a video card, FurMark is highly recommended.
Play a 3D Video Game
Another way of testing is by running PC games on it. These games have a very high frame rate and use up a substantial amount of GPU power. Subjecting the card to rendering the video game on a high resolution screen will help you test its mettle. It will require a trained eye to detect glitches in graphic output, as well as rendering delays. Unless you are a really experienced gamer, it is better to use a stress tester.
Before buying a video card, I suggest that you use a tester software on a machine which has it installed. That way, you won't have to repent landing up with one that doesn't live up to your expectations.