This is a 5 part series for the most essential hardwares for video editors.
I Graphic Cards
The quality of the graphics card can be a deal breaker in your non-linear editing system. The GC is responsible for everything that is displayed on your screen. The misconception is that Graphics cards are only applicable to video thus sometime referred to as the video card. In fact, the user interface of the software you have active and the operating system effects (like Aero in windows) can sometimes be draining to the processing power and memory available on your system. Adobe was aware of such issues and created new options on your preference panel on most software to speed up the UI display using the graphic card GPU. Adobe and NVidia partnered up few years ago and created acceleration options on the hardware and the software side of their graphics cards. Graphics cards have an increasingly faster GPU capabilities (processing power) , larger ram , better and ever expanding software technology like Open CL and CUDA.
Adobe came up with the mercury system which takes full advantage of the graphics cards GPU. The new technology switched most of the image processing from the CPU to the GPU. Adobe was able to play multi layered video tracks in real time and handle many formats natively like raw red footage and H264 DSLR videos.
I, personally, after a lot of research, opted for the Quadro series by Nvidia.
They are fully compatible with all adobe products and specifically designed to speed up various applications.
Nvidia updates constantly its drivers which incrementally bump the graphics card performance. It highly recommended to check for your graphics cards updates constantly. In some cases the performance can be doubled.
Adobe is constantly adapting new cards on the lower end for people with tight budgets which make it very appealing for beginners
Nvidia SLI technology allows to installs two cards and links them together to use them as one. The novelty is that now instead of two you can use up to four graphics cards at once. I haven’t done any tests yet with such set up but in theory this makes your video rendering and effects tweaking a breeze. You would have to install a bunch of fans to keep your machine cool so that would also apply to the physical sense.
Adobe Mercury technology is getting better with every version. So I imagine the graphics card would be good for years ahead.