How To Check Your Graphics Card in Windows 10
Your graphics card is an essential component of your computer’s hardware. If you want to play any sort of video game, you’ll find that your graphics card is listed among the most crucial specifications for any game you’ll want to play, powering nearly all the visuals you see on-screen. Powerful graphics cards are equally important for video editing, as rendering and CUDA cores are all powered through the graphics card inside your machine.
Most Windows games and programs include graphic card details in their system requirements, and you might need to check what graphics card you have to see if it matches the requirements.
Whether you’re confused about dedicated versus integrated graphics cards, the amount of VRAM within your dedicated card, or what manufacturer created your card, it’s easy to check—even without cracking open your laptop, desktop, or tablet. Let’s take a look at how you can find out your graphics card information in Windows 10.
What is a Graphics Card?
The first thing to understand about your computer—no matter if its a laptop, desktop, or tablet—is that several components work together in order to power everything you do on your computer. From surfing the web, watching videos, and checking up on social media to playing video games and making art, if your computer does it, it’s because of a combination of several different parts, just like a human body.
We’ll avoid diving deep into the function of every part of your PC, because you don’t need to understand each individual aspect of your computer to learn about your graphics card. Instead, let’s quickly explain the three main parts of your PC, and how they interact with each other.
Motherboard: The motherboard is the component that allows every piece of technology within your computer, including your hard drive, your CPU, GPU, memory, fans, and more, to talk to each other. It’s a circuit board that, using connectors and pins where other components can slot into, reads and transfers data between components. The motherboard is like the backbone of your device, allowing your machine to operate at its full potential while also allowing for expansions and further peripherals down the line (for desktops; laptops typically don’t have space for expanding your device’s capability outside of the IO ports along the sides of the device).
CPU (processor): If the motherboard is the backbone of your device, the CPU (or central processing unit) is the brain, in charge of issuing commands and computing the data your system throws at it. The CPU is by far the most important part of your system. Everything from how fast or slow your machine runs, how quickly it can switch between applications, and how well it can stream video and other data comes down to your CPU.
GPU (graphics card): Finally, we arrive at the GPU, which comes in two distinct forms: dedicated and integrated. Typically, integrated GPUs—graphics cards built into your CPU—are included in lower-cost or low-power devices, like budget PCs and ultrabooks. Because dedicated graphics cards, especially in laptops, are expensive and often overkill unless you’re looking to play some serious games or edit photos or videos, integrated graphics are often the best bang-for-the-buck in laptops.
It’s also important to keep in mind that some devices, specifically laptops, have both integrated and dedicated GPUs, with the ability to switch between both chips depending on what you’re doing with your PC.
Looking Up Your Graphics Card Info in Windows 10
Looking up your graphics card within Windows 10 is easy, and there’s a couple ways to do it depending on how much information you’re looking to learn on your card.
Our first method uses Windows’ built-in DirectX Diagnostic Tool, which is used to read the system information of your machine while detailing information on the DirectX components within your system. DirectX, for those not in the know, is Windows’ API for handling multimedia content, including video and games on your platform.
Our second method uses an external software tool, GPU-Z, to read the information on your device, often offering more information with the added cost of installing a separate application.
DirectX Diagnostic Tool
To find more details about your GPU, you can use the Windows built-in DirectX Diagnostic Tool, which is used to read the system information of your machine.
Launching the DirectX Diagnostic Tool is relatively simple. The tool is included in all versions of Windows 10, so regardless of your PC, you’ll be able to access this tool through your Start menu. DirectX is also a pretty old standard, so you should be able to find this on older versions of Windows like 7, 8, and 8.1. Here’s how to access your information.
Start by locating the Windows key in the lower-left hand corner. Click on it with your mouse and type “Run” once the Start menu has opened.
Once Run is open on your desktop, enter the word “dxdiag” into the text field and hit “OK” in the box below. You’ll see a dialogue box open with DirectX information shown (if, prior to the application below launching, you receive a box with a “Yes” or “No” prompt about launching the Diagnostic Tool, hit “Yes”).
Once the DirectX Diagnostic Tool has loaded, you’ll see a few separate tabs, along with plenty of system information including the current time, date, the manufacturer or your motherboard, the amount of memory within your PC, and your processor.
While this is all great information to know, the system tab in DirectX doesn’t display any information about your graphics card. For that, we’ll have to turn to the second tab within the DirectX Diagnostic Tool, “Display.”
The Display tab, in the upper-left corner, has all the generic information about your system’s current display preferences, including the graphics card, make and model, the amount of VRAM (video RAM) within your graphics card, and the current resolution being pushed out by your device.
For anyone who has two graphics cards in their system, you’ll have two “Display” tabs open in the window on your display. While some power users and gamers may have two actual graphics cards, you’ll likely run into this issue if you’re using a laptop that has a CPU with integrated graphics and a dedicated GPU that switches on when needed. This is a feature of certain laptops with Nvidia graphics, typically designed in order to automatically switch in order to help assist your laptop’s battery life.
Whether you’re looking to replace the card, trying to find supported software for your device, or just looking for generic information about your hardware, this is typically all you need to make a choice.
GPU-Z can give us some additional information about our graphics card, so if you’re looking for a specific piece of information—clock speed, BIOS version, release date of your processor, or anything else—here’s how to do it.
GPU-Z (also known as TechPowerUp GPU-Z) is a totally free utility, sans advertisements, or paywalls, so don’t worry about having to pay to use the application on your device.
Instead, you’re going to be able to use the program to find out a whole lot more about your computer’s graphics card than you knew before. Start by heading to this page to download the utility.
Here you’ll find two separate themes: the standard version of GPU-Z and the ASUS ROG (Republic of Gamers, ASUS’s line of gamer-focused equipment) themed program. For our needs, we only need the standard version, but if you’re looking for some visual flash in your utilities, you can grab the ASUS one too. Both applications will do the same basic task.
Once you hit the download button, you’ll be brought to a download page asking you to select a server for download. If you’re US-based, either United States server will work for you; otherwise, select the server closest to your home country for the fastest download speeds available.
Upon first glance, this app has a ton of information that you might not know what to do with. If you’re new to graphics cards and computer architecture, a lot of the words and phrases here might need some bit of explaining. Truth be told, for 98 percent of readers, you won’t need to know most of the information here. Instead, here’s what you will find interesting shown through GPU-Z:
- The Lookup button: Clicking this will launch your browser to load a page on your specific graphics card, along with an image of the device, dates released, and tons of other information. Much of this is shown within GPU-Z, but if you need to send or share your graphics card info with someone, TechPowerUp’s database of graphics cards is reliable, easy-to-share information.
- Name: This will display the generic name of your graphics card (in the screenshot below, it displays an Nvidia GeForce GTX 970). However, this won’t display the make of your graphics card (this is known as a sub-vendor within GPU-Z).
- Technology: This shows the size and structure of your GPU, measured in nm (nanometers). The smaller the chip, the less heat generated by the GPU.
- Release date: The original release date of your specific graphics card.
- Subvendor: The manufacturer that created your card (ASUS, EVGA, etc).
- Memory type and size: The type and generation of the dedicated memory contained within your graphics card (VRAM). The size is shown below type, listed in MB (megabytes). The more VRAM, the more powerful the chip.
- Clock speeds: This is the speed your GPU is set to run at. These can be boosted and overclocked, depending on your card and device, so you’ll also see information on your turbo-boost clock speeds here as well. These are measured in MHz (megahertz).
If you’re confused about what something means, you can hover over the text entry fields in each part of the application for more details.
Finally, you can also use the drop-down menu at the bottom of the application to switch between card information, if your computer has two graphics cards (or, more likely, to switch between information on your dedicated and integrated graphics cards).
If you’re interested in figuring out how your computer works, or you need to upgrade or fix a problem with your graphics card, knowing how to look up that information can be a really handy tool to have. Even if you’re just looking to find out whether or not you can run Cyberpunk 2077 on your PC, you’ll be happy to know that Windows 10 has that graphics information built right into it.
Of course, GPU-Z can help you learn the ins-and-outs of just how your device works if you’ve ever wondered about what a graphics card exactly does. With graphics cards being as important to running a computer as they are, knowing how to look up the information on your card is one of the most useful tips to know. So, whether you’re troubleshooting your computer or buying new games during Steam’s next sale, you’ll be happy to know just where to find the information you’re looking for.