How to Test a Graphics Card

by Gregory HamelUpdated September 28, 2017

Items you will need

  • Computer game(s)

  • Fraps freeware program

Graphics cards are devices that help a computer process and render 3-D graphics, which is especially important for running computer games. If you have recently installed a new video card, or simply want to determine how well your video card works, there are a few ways to test the card's efficiency and whether all of its connections are working properly.

Run your favorite 3-D game. Check the options menus to see if the game has a video test. Many games have build-in video tests that will tell you the fps (frames per second) that the game is running at. The main benchmark of video card performance is frames per second.

Download and install Fraps (see Resources below for link). Fraps is a freeware program that displays frames per second during game play. Sometimes video tests build into games don't adequately represent the kind of graphics that will be displayed during game play, so it is best to monitor fps during normal play.

Run Fraps and then run a computer game. Begin playing the game normally, and observe the yellow numbers on the screen generated by the Fraps program. This is your current frames per second.

Change your video settings to stress test the card. As you are running Fraps, you might notice that it is stuck at 60 fps. If this is the case, your card is plenty good enough to run the game at its current settings. Go into the options for the game and turn up the video settings—increase the model detail, screen resolution, turn on anti-aliasing, shadows and other details. The graphics should look better, but the fps will likely drop unless you have a high-end card.


If you update your video drivers, it is worth retesting your card to see if it made a difference in performance. The less graphically intense a game is, the less the difference between video cards will be. Human's can't notice much, if any, difference between 50 fps and 60 fps, but the difference between 20 fps and 30 fps is very noticeable.


About the Author

Gregory Hamel has been a writer since September 2008 and has also authored three novels. He has a Bachelor of Arts in economics from St. Olaf College. Hamel maintains a blog focused on massive open online courses and computer programming.

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