Graphics cards (or PC video cards, among many other names) are one of the most talked about parts of a computer when it comes to PC gaming. In fact, if you were to ask a gaming PC enthusiast what their setup contains - chances are the first thing that they would tell you is what graphics card they have.
But why exactly are graphics cards so important in the first place, and how do you install a new graphics card into your computer?
Why Graphics Cards are Essential
Graphics cards are so important in the world of PC gaming because they are required to render graphics. Think of graphics cards almost as being the “eyes” of your computer. The GPU (Graphics processing unit) gets data from your computer’s processor and then uses the software of your machine to figure out how and where to place the pixels on your screen.
Unsurprisingly, the more powerful your graphics card is, the smoother and prettier your gameplay is going to be. Today, the most popular graphics cards are often made by Nvidia - with their famous RTX line that allows Ray Tracing.
Should you Upgrade Your Graphics Card?
There may come a time when you have had your PC for quite some time and have noticed that your favorite games are starting to have a little bit of trouble running on your computer. This happens to everyone.
With the luxury of having a PC, there’s no need to throw out the entire machine and buy a new one. A lot of the time, all you need to do is to upgrade a vital part - like your graphics card. But whether or not you should get a new graphics card is actually not as simple as you think. There are going to be many factors to consider:
First of all - the price. Graphics cards are expensive, and it looks like they’re getting more and more expensive too. Only spend the money on a new graphics card if you’re absolutely certain it is what you are comfortable doing.
Secondly, you need to make sure it is going to be compatible with your computer overall. Certain graphics cards are not going to work with certain motherboards or may be incompatible with other parts of your computer. This is why it is always important to be certain that the graphics card is going to function with your machine.
Upgrading Your Graphics Card (with help from an expert)
If you have purchased a pre-built gaming PC, then it is likely you can take it to where you have purchased it from and get some help from the tech support there. Even better, if you have a warranty, then it is also likely they’ll be able to help you install the graphics card (with you having to purchase the card of course).
This is going to be a better option for people who aren’t too fussed about spending a little bit of extra money to get help from a professional. They should also be able to help tell you whether or not a graphics card is going to be compatible with your computer. The only real downside to this is that it is going to cost more, and may take longer since the tech support may be working on other people’s computers too.
Upgrading Your Graphics Card (By Yourself)
It may seem daunting and incredibly technical, but it is actually easier than you think to upgrade your graphics card on your own - once you fully understand how to do it.
One of the main things to worry about when doing this is making sure you’re gentle with the computer parts. This is because they are very fragile, so make sure you don’t try to force or jam anything.
Here is a general guide for upgrading your computer’s graphics card:
Ok, so to begin - turn off your computer and unplug all the power cables. Make sure that the computer is in a good space, with decent lighting and a flat surface.
Open your computer’s case. This will be different based on what sort of case you have, but it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out.
Disconnect the PCI-e power connectors from the old graphics card. This is what provides the graphics card with power. Some may have different looking power connectors, or none at all.
Take out the old graphics card from the PCI-e slot. You’ll find that the majority of graphics cards are going to be held in because of a screw that is towards the rear of the graphics card, which is around the back of the case.
There may also be a small lever around the PCI-e slot too. Simply remove the screw and then press the lever. The card should pop out, so take it out gently.
Place the new graphics card into the PCI-e slot. You should be able to feel things click in securely. Then, put the screw back in - and be sure to put back any other brackets or supports you had to take out.
Now, just plug the PCI-e cables into the new graphics card. Close your PC’s case and plug all the power cables back in like usual.
Now just boot up your computer and install all the necessary graphics drivers. This is easy to get done, as you should just be able to head over to the website of your graphics card manufacturer and install everything you need from there.
Installing a graphics card is probably one of the most common chores a PC player will have to do at one point. After your first installation, it should feel pretty rewarding.
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What graphics card do I have?
You should be able to check what graphics card you have by pressing Start, then typing in “Device Manager” and hitting Enter. From there, just click the drop-down arrow that’s next to “Display Adapters” and you’ll be able to see the name of your graphics card.