How To Install a Graphics Card

December 3, 2007

Installing a graphics card is not that difficult. However, if you don’t have the proper gear or just don’t feel comfortable, pay someone to do it. Incorrect installation of a graphics card can damage both your video card and your motherboard and cost you hundreds of dollars.

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: 30 minutes

Here’s How:

  1. The first step is to determine what type of graphics card you need for your system. Check with your computer manufacturer, vendor or motherboard manufacturer for compatible graphics cards.

  2. After you determine the compatible video cards for your system you need to gather your tools. To install most graphics cards you will need a screwdriver that is not magnetized and a anti-static wrist strap. You can get anti-static wrist straps from most computer stores. Don’t skip the anti-static wrist strap, a small shock that you would not even feel could destroy your new $500 graphics card. Be sure to follow the instructions with your anti-static strap.

  3. Once you have your tools together, you will need to turn off your computer and remove the left side panel. The left side panel will be the one on your left if you are in front of your computer. Don’t touch anything inside the case that you don’t have too.

  4. After removing the side panel lay your computer on its side and find the expansion slot you wish to use. Graphics and video cards are available for AGP slots, standard PCI slots, 1x PCI Express slots and 16x PCI Express slots. Be sure you have the correct card for your available expansion slot. Once opened most graphics cards are non-returnable unless damaged in manufacturing.

  5. Once you locate the expansion slot you plan to use for your graphics card, you will need to remove the IO plate covering the slot on the back of your computer. The IO cover design will vary depending on your case design. Some are secured with screws or tabs, while others require you to twist them off.

  6. Once you remove the cover from the expansion slot you want to use gently remove your video card from its box.

  7. Once removed from its box you will be ready to plug your graphics card into the chosen expansion slot. Gently insert the card into the expansion slot and firmly press it into place. Most expansion slots have a retention mechanism to lock the card in place, however yours may not. Be sure to use a screw or other method to secure your card to the case where you removed the IO cover from the expansion slot you chose, there will be some method of securing your card to the case.

  8. After installing your graphics card you need to verify if it requires power directly from your computers power supply. The instructions included with your video card will tell you if it requires its own power connector and if so what type. Newer PCI Express graphics cards often require special PCI Express power connectors. Most high end card manufacturers include adapters for use in systems without the correct plug for these cards.

  9. Once you have your video card getting power, plug your system back in and turn it on before you put the side panel back on your case. You need to verify that the fan on your video card is working. You don’t want improper connections or a bad $2 fan on your card to cause it to overheat and become damaged the first time you turn it on.

  10. After verifying that the fan on the graphics card is working turn your system back off and reinstall the side panel.

  11. Once the side panel is back on you are ready to connect your monitor to your graphics card an power up your system.

  12. Once your system is on a running, you will need to install the correct driver for your graphics card. The driver will be included with your graphics card. However, the drive included with your graphics card could be a old version. You will want to update your driver from your video card manufacturer’s web site.

  13. Once you have updated your video card drivers, you are done! Congratulations, you installed your own video card!

Tips:

  1. If in doubt, get someone with experience to install your graphics card.

  2. Be sure to verify that your power supply inside your computer has enough power for your graphics card and has the appropriate connector for it.

  3. Be sure that you buy the correct graphics card for your available expansion slot inside your computer.

What You Need:

  • Screwdriver, non-magnetic

  • Anti-Static wrist strap

  • Graphics card

  • Graphics card installation instructions

  • Graphics card drivers disk

By: Shane McGlaun,

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