What is a Low Profile Video Card?

G. Wiesen

A low profile video card is a type of video card designed to be smaller, often for use in computers with a smaller case. Though it is not always guaranteed, this card is typically somewhat quieter and may have lower power requirements than a standard video card, especially a powerful card intended for cutting edge graphics. A low profile card with lower power requirements, quietness, and smaller size will typically have somewhat less advanced graphics processing, however, and such a card cannot usually match the performance of larger video cards.

Video cards are important for running personal computer games on a computer.
Video cards are important for running personal computer games on a computer.

The video card inside a computer is a device that is connected to the motherboard and is responsible for handling the processing and rendering of information in a graphical way. While these cards are very important for running personal computer (PC) games on a computer, they are also used simply for basic video output from the computer to a monitor or similar display. Some type of video card is included in just about every computer setup, and many motherboards include an on-board video processor that allows a monitor to be connected to the computer.

A graphics card may be used to improve gaming performance.
A graphics card may be used to improve gaming performance.

A low profile video card is typically more powerful than this type of on-board graphics card, but does not require as much room inside the computer as other video cards often do. As technology has improved and video cards have become increasingly powerful, they have also typically become larger and require greater resources within the computer. The higher speeds that these cards run at demand greater power and often need dedicated cooling in the form of heatsinks and fans built onto the card. This can make it quite loud and require a connection from the power supply directly to the card, since most standard connections between the video card and a motherboard cannot transfer enough power for the card.

The use of a low profile video card can often counteract some of these requirements. It is not only smaller, and therefore requires less room in the computer, it also usually does not require dedicated power lines or additional cooling. This can make this type of card significantly quieter, as the heatsinks and fans on other video cards can be especially loud. A low profile card of high quality can be somewhat hard to find, however, and dedicated PC gamers will typically find the graphics processing of such a card insufficient for running new games at high video settings.

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Discussion Comments


I want to add an hdmi graphics card to my PC. Do I need to remove the existing vga since the card I may buy has both hdmi and a vga port?


@MrMoody - That’s great. I didn’t think that there were many low profile AGP cards hanging around these days. AGP tends to be an obsolete technology, but you said it was an older computer, so it would make sense.

PCI Express is the new standard these days for all the new computers. It’s supposed to be a lot faster than AGP. I have one low profile PCI video card in my multimedia computer.

I don’t do gaming, but I do use it for video editing, watching movies and stuff like that. That’s very graphics intensive, but like you, I have a slim desktop computer.

Honestly I never thought twice about what having a slim desktop meant for finding the right components. I almost panicked when I realized that most video cards wouldn’t fit these slim towers, but the sales guy at the store I bought the computer from told me about the low profile video cards. It’s worked like a charm for me.


I have an older Pentium computer that is a slim desktop. It has integrated graphics onto the motherboard and I had wanted to use it to play some games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft.

Unfortunately, the graphics capability could barely keep up with the demands placed on them by the games. So finally I bought a low profile AGP video card, fairly inexpensively.

When I looked at the size and price of the card, I thought it would only offer nominal improvement, and that I would be forced to scale back some of my game settings a little bit. To my surprise, it has performed admirably well; there is no noticeable flicker or reduction in the frame rate as I play the games and the card is quiet, just like the article says.

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