With Christmas just around the corner, movie and game fans are looking forward to the season’s biggest releases. Perhaps you will get a new game or movie title as a present this year. If you are lucky, you may even get a new computer or laptop. In order to really get the most from your new machine, you may want to upgrade the graphics. This guides shows you how to change the graphics card in your PC or laptop, with helpful step-by-step instructions.
If you have never upgraded a computer before, it can seem like a daunting and difficult task. However, the process is actually quite simple and you can do it yourself at home, using basic tools you will probably already own. In no time at all, you can change out your graphics card and add in a new one. Let ProTech Sourced show you how.
Why change your graphics card?
When your computer no longer supports the latest video games or you experience problems with display lag and distortion, you may consider buying a newer, more capable graphics card. However, you first need to be sure this is the right route for you. If your computer system itself is old and slow, a brand new graphics card might not be the right answer.
You need plenty of RAM and a stable, reliable central processor to support a decent graphics processing unit (GPU). Many of the latest desktops and laptops come with state of the art graphics cards built-in, and it may work out cheaper to change your computer than to upgrade a wide range of internal parts and processors.
If your computer is up to the task but the graphics are letting you down, it is time invest in a good GPU and make the switch. Below we will talk you through the process for upgrading a desktop graphics processor, and also offer advice on laptop upgrades
Choose a good graphics card
Here are some top graphics cards for gamers and movie fans, available now on Amazon.com.
- Inno3D Nvidia-Geforce GT 730 4GB DDR3 HDMI DVI VGA video-card
- MSI GAMING Radeon RX 470 GDDR5 8GB FinFET DirectX 12 Graphics Card
- ASUS ROG STRIX Radeon RX 460 4GB OC Edition AMD Gaming Graphics Card
There are many choices out there, with something to suit every need. Look for VR-compatible graphics cards if you plan to use a virtual reality headset, and check the specs of the titles you wish to play before settling on the right card. Expect to pay between $100 and $250 for a good graphics card, and always go with a trusted brand that has great reviews.
How to upgrade the graphics card in a desktop
Make sure you have enough power for your chosen power card using a power supply calculator tool. Many are available online, including this free web app. If the power is insufficient, you may need to replace your CPU as well. This guide will cover how to upgrade a graphics card where you have sufficient power, and just need a boost for the graphics.
- Turn off your PC and remove attached cables/power leads.
- Use a screwdriver to remove the side panel of your PC.
- Identify your motherboard’s PCIe bays* (usually next to the CPU).
- Remove the screw from the existing graphics card and unclip the latch.
- Pull the card out. If the clasps have been removed it should slide out easily.
- Remove second bay cover if needed.**
- Insert new card in slot (refer to manual) and attach power supply cable.
- Secure with clip and screw.
- Close the case, reattach the power and hook up your monitor.
- Turn on your PC and check everything powers correctly.
- Uninstall your graphics card drivers from the Control Panel menu.
- Visit your card manufacturer’s site and download the new drivers.
- Follow the prompts to install, and reboot the machine once complete.
- Test your card with video games, movies and other image-based content.
*Refer to your PC’s manual if you are in any doubt – this will give you a clear map of internal components and help you locate the right part of the motherboard for removal/replacement.
**Many modern graphics cards are larger in size and take up more room inside your PC tower. Your new card may need two bays, although it will affix to a single slot.
Discover the best gaming desktops under $1000
Pick up a fantastic new computer for work or for leisure, and make sure you get value for your money. Check out ProTech Sourced’s top picks on the market today.
How to upgrade the graphics card in a laptop
Modern computer towers are designed with customization in mind. They house a number of empty ports, and components are fitted in a way that allows easy removal and replacement of internal parts. Laptops, on the other hand, are a little more tricky. Most laptop computers use integrated graphics – in other words, the graphics card is fixed within the whole CPU. This means changing it is not a simple task – unless you are an expert in computer builds!
However, you can get a graphics boost using an external adapter. There are a wide number of external graphics cards available on the market, designed to make photo editing and artist tasks much easier and clearer. These external graphics cards can also make games and movies look more clear and sharp – although they will not give enough of a difference to play high-end games titles on an old and incompatible machine.
To add an external graphics card to your computer, simply connect to the USB port and follow the prompts on screen. You could also use an external card on your desktop PC, during the interim period while you install the new graphics card.
Find the top gaming laptops of 2016
Pick up a bargain with our top picks for laptops in 2016. If your new laptop needs a little boost, you can change the graphics card and add plenty more image power.
Images used through Creative Commons license or via Amazon.com
Product details and prices correct at the time of writing