Every gamer knows the importance of the graphics card (GPU), so when it comes to making changes in your gaming PC, upgrading the GPU is often the first step. Many gamers choose to upgrade their graphics card because it has an enormous impact on their gaming experience, directly affecting how the game looks.
Graphics cards are also fairly simple to upgrade yourself because they’re often separate units inside gaming PCs, so replacing them is an easier process than replacing other parts. This guide will help you understand how to upgrade your graphics card and improve your gaming experience.
Graphics card shortages
One thing to take note of before upgrading your GPU is the price of graphics cards. There is currently a GPU shortage due to supply chain issues thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as a high demand for graphics cards as they can be used for cryptocurrency mining as well as video gaming. This means that graphics cards can be quite expensive, so if you can wait a few months before upgrading, it might be in your interests to do so.
You will need to check that the GPU you want to install is compatible with your current PC components. This includes the motherboard, where you will need to check you have the correct connectors, as well as the power supply.
A new graphics card will be an extra draw on your PC’s power supply (PSU), so you’ll need to make sure that whatever GPU you get doesn’t draw so much power that it’s close to the PSU’s limit. You always want a buffer so the power supply has extra room for the buffer.
Another thing to consider is your case size. Is there enough room for your new graphics card? The easiest way to determine this before you buy your new GPU is to measure your case and compare that with the GPU measurements provided by the manufacturer or retailer. If the graphics card is too big, you can get external graphics card enclosures, but this is an extra cost and you will need to check compatibility between the graphics card and dock.
Uninstall old drivers
Before you start messing around inside your PC’s case and replacing your graphics card, you’ll need to uninstall the drivers for your old card. Each GPU manufacturer ( Intel, AMD and Nvidia ) have their own guides to uninstalling their drivers, so follow their guides to uninstall your current GPU drivers.
Turn off the PC
Safety 101 – turn off the computer at the wall. Then act as if you’re trying to turn it on. The point here is to discharge any residual power in your system so neither you nor your PC gets damaged while you’re replacing your graphics card. You should then unplug everything from the PC and move it to a place where you can access the side panel easily.
Remove the side of the case
The panel which you can remove is usually on the left side if you’re looking at the machine from the front. With a Phillips head screwdriver, unscrew the screws holding the panel in place and gently remove the panel. Place it somewhere out of the way.
Removing your old graphics card
To remove your old graphics card, you first need to unplug the power cable. You’ll need to squeeze and pull the cables to get them free. There may also be screws holding the card in place, so you’ll need to remove those as well.
The area where your graphics card connects to the motherboard (usually with a PCIe slot) will often have a plastic locking mechanism. The design of the mechanism will require you to press it down or sideways to open it.
Once you have released the locking mechanism, you can carefully remove your old graphics card. Carefully. If you damage anything while removing the card, not only will you not be able to fit the new one, but unless your computer has integrated graphics in the processor, you may not be able to play games at all.
Putting the new graphics card in
When putting your new GPU in, you need to place it firmly into the PCIe slot on the motherboard. Once you hear a click, you know that it’s secure. You’ll also need to check that the graphics card is level, not tilted and that all of the display outputs are visible on the PC’s back panel.
You should also secure the card with the screws that held down your old card. You should then plug in any power connectors. If there aren’t any power cables, the graphics card draws all the power it needs from the motherboard.
Put side panel back on
Now you can put the side panel back on, securing it with the screws as you do. You can also start plugging everything back in, ensuring that any monitors you have are plugged into the graphics card, not the motherboard. If you don’t have the right cables, you can buy adapters fairly easily and cheaply.
Go to the website for the manufacturer to download drivers
Now you can turn on your PC, but it may look unusual – misshapen or odd in other ways. This is because you don’t have the correct drivers installed. Luckily, your GPU’s manufacturer will have made their drivers available on their website, so you should visit that and then install the latest driver for your new graphics card. You should then restart your computer for everything to look right and run smoothly.
Upgrading your graphics card can be a simple way of improving your gaming experience – if you can see the game in more detail, you’re going to have more fun! There are a number of things to consider from the physical size of your new GPU to more technical compatibility issues like power draw and removing your old GPU’s drivers.
You’ll also need to carefully remove the graphics card, taking into account how to do it safely by unplugging the PC and discharging power residue, and replacing it with the new one, securing it in place. You’ll then need to install the new drivers and restart your PC before you can benefit from the upgraded graphics card.