Of all the components in a computer, your graphics card becomes outdated the fastest. New graphics cards are released every year, each one boasting more power and features than the last. If your PC is more than a couple years old, and you’ve already upgraded to a solid-state drive (SSD) rather than a hard disk drive, upgrading your graphics card is the single best way to improve your computer’s performance.
Installing a graphics card isn’t difficult, but it requires opening your computer case and replacing components, so it might seem daunting if you’ve never tinkered inside your computer before.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to replacing your graphics card.
Make sure your new graphics card is compatible
Graphics cards aren’t one-size-fits-all, and the more powerful the card, the more resources it’ll draw from the rest of your computer. Make sure your new card will fit with the rest of your setup before you buy, or you might end up needing to get a refund.
There are usually four main considerations:
- Is your power supply large enough? Many graphics cards require that your computer’s power supply deliver 500 watts or more. Check the specs that came with your computer or look at the ID sticker on the power supply itself.
- Are there enough power connectors for your new graphics card? Most modern graphics cards require one or two power connectors, usually 6- or 8-pin.
- Is your CPU fast enough? Your computer’s CPU is the piece that handles the computer’s most basic functions. If your CPU is too old, even the most advanced graphics card in the world won’t be able to run well.
- Will the card physically fit in the computer? The new graphics card may require more than one PCI Express expansion slot. And length might be an issue: Not all card slots are “full length,” so you’ll need to make sure there’s room on the motherboard.