How to Upgrade a Graphics Card

Upgrading a graphics card provides by far the greatest boost in the performance of video games All computers built in the past few years now use the PCI-Express interface which is compatible with almost any available graphics card on the market. While upgrading a graphics card is normally a quick and easy process, there are some important steps to take first. The following guide will walk you through the preparation and installation of a new graphics card on any desktop PC with a PCI-Express interface.

1- Preparations to Make

It may be tempting to hastily remove the old graphics card and replace it with the latest and greatest model, but there are still some important considerations to think about first. Newer and more powerful graphics cards tend to draw a great deal more power than the older ones. For this, you will need to make sure that your computer has an adequate power supply. The wattage of your power supply is not the only thing that is important. You will need to make sure that there is also enough amperage on the 12 volt rail. A cheap, low quality 500 watt power supply will typically not provide this. By contrast, a high quality 500 watt power supply from a good brand probably will. Always make certain that your power supply is adequate before buying a new graphics card. You may find that you need to purchase a new power supply as well. Installing a graphics card that draws more power than your computer can provide can even damage your hardware. You should also make sure that you have two available PCI-Express power connectors since most high-end graphics cards need to draw power directly from the computer’s power supply.

There will be other system requirements as well, especially with the more powerful graphics cards. Any computer used for gaming should have 2 GB of RAM and a dual core CPU at the bare minimum. Lower specifications will cause a bottleneck for the new graphics card and this can greatly reduce performance.

2- Remove the Old Graphics Card

Before installing the new graphics card, you will first need to uninstall the drivers for the existing graphics card. You can uninstall your graphics card drivers from the Device Manager. This can be found in Control Panel All Control Panel Items System. Click the ‘Device Manager’ link in the top left of the window. Locate your graphics card under ‘Display adapters’ and click the ‘Driver’ tab in the window that pops up. Click the uninstall button to uninstall the driver. For best results, use a third-party driver cleaning application afterwards to get rid of any remaining trace of the driver files.

When you have uninstall ed the driver, turn your computer off. Remove the case cover and locate the old graphics card. Remove the screw connecting the L-bracket of the card to the back of the case and unplug all cables from the card. Pull it out of the PCI-Express slot and place it safely in an anti-static bag.

3- Install the New Graphics Card

Place the new card in the slot and connect the PCI-Express power cables from the back of the power supply to the slots on the graphics card. There will usually be one or two of these cables required. Attach the screw to the L-bracket and plug the monitor cable back into the graphics card.

When you start up the computer up again, your will need to install the drivers for your new card before your display will work properly again. Always install the latest drivers rather than those which are supplied on the CD which comes with the new graphics card. You can download the latest drivers from either nvidia.com or ati.com, depending on the brand of your graphics chip.

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