How To Install A New Graphics Card

Getting a new graphics card is like Christmas for any PC gamer. It means the end of stuttering and low FPS: you will finally be able to game at gloriously high resolutions with knife-edge sharp visuals. But, do you know how to install a graphics card?

Although a shiny new graphics card looks amazing, the process of plugging it into the PC can look tricky, and that’s what we’re here to talk about. Luckily, after a RAM upgrade, the GPU upgrade is probably the easiest one.

However, just like with anything inside your computer, you need to be careful with removing your old graphics card and installing the new one. But fear not: we’re here to guide you through the process.

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Step 0 – Things To Consider Before Actually Buying The Card

PC Power Supply
Make sure that your PSU can actually handle your new card if it needs more power

You might be under the impression that your PC doesn’t need any prerequisites for a new graphics card. Although that’s probably true, there is one important thing to keep in mind. You should be well aware of what PSU you have, as well as what power connector cables come with it.

Depending on the power connector cables that come with the PSU, you might have to use adapters, so do your research in advance. A good thing to keep in mind when checking out new graphics cards is that its power usage should be in the 40-50% range of your PSU’s total capability.

Related:Best PC Power Supply Calculators

Additionally, if you’re not exactly upgrading, but adding another GPU, either via SLI, Crossfire, or NVLink, you will have to account for that extra power consumption as well.

One aspect that is often glossed over is the importance of checking whether you have room in your case for your new graphics card.

It’s very likely that your new GPU will be a different size from your current one. With some top-notch graphics cards out there being the dimensions of a medium-sized cat, it’s possible that your case won’t be able to hold it.

This is a whole other headache. If this is the case for you, you may have to get a new case which only leads to more work, as you will essentially have to re-build your entire PC.

Step 1 – Before Turning Off Your PC

Shutting down in Windows 10
Switching from AMD to Nvidia or from Nvidia to AMD? Make sure you uninstall the drivers before shutting down your PC

If you’ve bought a new card that’s from a different manufacturer (AMD or Nvidia) than the card you already own, you need to fully and properly remove all of the drivers from your PC prior to installing the new graphics card.

The next logical step would be to uninstall all the drivers through the Control Panel, but there are some things burrowed deep in the registry and such. Therefore, it’s best if you install Display Driver Uninstaller and run it in Safe Mode. It’s a free and easy to use software, and it will simplify the process significantly.

Although recommended, this step isn’t necessary if you’re upgrading your graphics card with one from the same manufacturer, but it’s a must if you’re switching from Nvidia to AMD or the other way around.

Related:AMD vs NVIDIA – Which GPU Manufacturer Should You Choose?

Step 2 – Discharge Static

Corsair PSU
After unplugging all the cables and devices from the PC, turn off the PSU as shown in the image above.

This is a small but significant step that can save you a lot of trouble to prevent things from going awry. The obvious thing you’ve probably already done is unplug all of the cables from the back and front of your PC.

After that, turn off the power supply and discharge the static by holding down on the power button for about 10 to 15 seconds and you should be all set.

Although the chances of your new GPU getting fried are slim, it’s still important to discharge static just to be cautious.

Step 3 – Remove The Old Graphics Card

The first thing to do here is to remove the power connectors. After you do that, unscrew the screws that are holding the GPU to the backplate. Then you just need to push down the retaining clip on the PCIe socket and gently lift/pull your old card towards you.

It might seem like you don’t have to be gentle, but you never know when your old graphics card might come in handy.

Step 4 – Insert The New Graphics Card

Inserting a graphics card into a PC motherboard
Installing your new graphics card to your motherboard is easy. Photo credit: Digital Trends

This step is essentially the previous step in reverse, but you still need to be careful.

When putting down the card, there shouldn’t be much resistance. In case there is, check if there are cables in the way or anything that can physically stop you from inserting the card.

When you have made sure that the card is all the way down, make sure that the retaining lid or the security lock is properly in place by flicking it back up. When the GPU is properly set into its PCI-E slot, you should hear a loud and satisfying “click“.

After the new card is firmly in its designed PCIe slot, insert the power cable. The connector only goes one way, so if you’re having difficulties, you might want to try it the other way. Once the cable is in place, make sure that it’s not interfering with the GPU’s fan(s).

All that’s left now is to put back the screws and move on to the next step.

Step 5 – Reconnect The Cables And Boot Up Your Computer

Booting Windows 10
Photo credit: CCleaner

Everything that’s left now is to connect all the necessary cables, boot up your computer and bask in the glory of your new graphics card, enjoying that wonderful 60 FPS+ experience.

But wait, why is the resolution so messed up? The last step in this process is the installation of proper drivers.

Many modern graphics cards will come with their own auto-installing drivers, but you will still want to check your manufacturer’s website to make sure you have the drivers’ latest version.

And there you have it. After you’ve installed the proper drivers, it’s game time.

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Aleksandar Cosic
Aleksandar Cosic

Alex is a Computer Science student and a former game designer. That has enabled him to develop skills in critical thinking and fair analysis. As a CS student, Aleksandar has very in-depth technical knowledge about computers, and he also likes to stay current with new technologies.