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.
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 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.