A good graphics card is the foundation of any gaming rig. Without it, your PC is just a PC and not a gaming computer. If you’re like me and AAA titles matter, it’s time to upgrade. If you haven’t installed a graphics card before, then here are a few things you should know before getting started.
Before you get started, think about what your computer is capable of handling. If it’s no more than five years old, it’s likely to have at least a PCIe slot that it needs for a graphics card.
Look for a PCIe x 16 slot which is typically closest to the heat sink of your CPU. These are typically labeled and are longer than other PCIe slots.
Do You Have Enough Power to Install a New Graphics Card?
A bigger question might be whether or not it can handle the power; however, you’ll definitely want to check. If you plan on replacing your power supply as well, here’s a few I think give you the best value for the money you spend. If you’re doing a new build altogether, be sure to take a look at our list of the top computer builds of the year so far.
As far as knowing how much power you need, there are several power output calculators online. Here’s one from Cooler Master that should give you a good idea of how much power you need. If that’s too much for you, then check out your power supplies minimum power requirements. If you don’t have a lot of hardware hooked to your motherboard, this number will typically do. Once you get that number, I’d recommend going around 100 watts over not only to be safe, but for future upgrades down the road.
If you’re using an older power supply and want to keep it, then base the graphics card you pick off of what your computer can handle. Some more recent graphics cards like the 750 Ti or GTX 950 are ideal in a scenario where a manufacturer has given you little to work with.
Installing the Graphics Card
Once you’ve picked out your new graphics card, you’ll want to grab a screwdriver and unplug your computer from the wall. Locate the PCIe x 16 slot we mentioned above and look for the retention bracket directly behind it in the back in and out port. Remove that bracket. In its place you’ll be screwing down the end of your graphics card.
Now take your graphics card and press the fitting grooves into the correct spaces of your PCIe slot. Don’t be afraid to press firmly but make sure that your aligned correctly before beginning. Once the GPU is in the slot, screw the bracket into your back in and out ports.
If your graphics card needs power connectors, now is the time to install them. Connect the appropriately matching power cables from your power supply.
How to Download the Latest Graphics Card Drivers
It’s important to have the latest drivers for your new graphics card. Go to the GPU manufacturer’s website and grab the latest drivers. Delete any old drivers from previous graphics cards you may have had.
Now you’re ready to play that game you’ve been waiting on. Good luck! If you have any questions or difficulties with this, be sure to ask me in the comment section below.