How to Install a Graphics Card (GPU)

Different PC users have different graphic needs. While some use them mainly for simple tasks like basic graphic designs and editing, others use it for high-end gaming and rendering which require higher processing speeds. There is a wide variety of graphics cards in the market to match your needs and pocket size.

You can get one for as low as $10 and some for as high as $10000. Gamers usually do not need as much processing speed as some graphic designers do. There are online sites that make graphic card comparisons and would help you make a choice based on your budget.

Replacing an old graphics card is usually an easy task but some considerations need to be made before making a choice on which one to buy.

  1. Always check if your motherboard will support your new graphics card before purchasing it. If it doesn’t, you may need to get a new motherboard or a graphics card compatible with it.
  2. Check if the power supply unit (PSU) has enough power to support the graphics card (you can check the requirements for the graphics card from the manufacturer’s site). The power rating is usually pasted at the back or side of the PSU. If the power supply is too low for the graphics card then you will need to replace it with one that provides a higher power else your computer may not power on after installing the card. Also, be sure your power supply has a connector compatible with the graphics card’s socket else you will need an adapter that’ll plug into the Molex connector (they do come with the graphics cards most times). Most modern graphics cards are connected with a PCIe power connector.
  3. Graphics cards come in different sizes. Ensure that the card fits in the casing well.

If these conditions are met, you may proceed to install your new graphics card by following these steps.

Note: Most laptops do not allow a GPU upgrade.

  1. Uninstall your current graphics card drivers
    Open your Control panel > hardware and sound > device manager > display adapters > right-click and uninstall. At times this may not delete the drivers totally, you might still find some programs related to it when you check Programs in the control panel. You may need to download Display Driver Uninstaller for a clean uninstall. However, if your graphics card replacement is from the same manufacturer, you may not need to uninstall the drivers.
  2. Power off your system and remove the power supply from the CPU.
  3. Make sure you’re grounded before you start. You can do this by wearing insulating gloves or an antistatic wrist strap.
  4. Open the PC casing.
  5. Locate the PCIe x16 slot on your motherboard (the long slot(s) close to the processor).
  6. Remove the screws holding the bracket of the existing graphics card to the chassis.
  7. There is usually a retaining clip attached to the slot. If there is release it (usually by pushing it down) and gently lift out the graphics card.
  8. You can now replace it with the new graphics card by gently pushing it into the PCI or PCIe slot. This should go in easily if there are no obstructions like wires in its way.
  9. Connect the power supply cable connector to your new graphics card (usually a 6 or 8-pin PCIe power connector) and screw the bracket to the chassis. Make sure there are no obstructions especially to the fans.
  10. Restore the PC side panels and power on your PC.
  11. Install the new drivers if need be (the graphics card should come with a CD, if not you can download the drivers from the manufacturer’s site) and you’re good to go.