How to install a graphics card in your PC – A beginners guide

How to install a graphics card in your PC – A beginners guide

Installing a new graphics card (GPU) is the single most impactful upgrade you can make to improve the overall gaming performance of a PC. 2021 hasn’t particularly been kind to PC enthusiasts due to the ongoing global chip shortage. It’s still extremely hard to get your hands on the best graphics cards on the market. If you managed to get one for your build and wondering how to put it to work, then we’re here to help. In this beginners guide, we’ll take you through the steps involved and teach you how to install a graphics card.

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  • Graphics card dimensions: It’s important to check the dimensions of the GPU of your choice. This is an essential step to check if the GPU is going to fit into your PC case. All the PC cases on the market specify the maximum length of GPU it can accommodate inside the chassis. It’s never a good idea to force your GPU inside the case that’s not big enough for the unit. If you don’t have the luxury of buying a new GPU, given the current situation, we recommend you buy a new PC case. You can check out our collection of the best PC cases to find some good options.
  • Power requirement: It’s also a good idea to check if your power supply unit (PSU) can handle the GPU’s power draw. It’s usually the GPU that demands the most power inside a system, so you may have to upgrade it. We have some recommendations in our collection of the best power supply units you can buy.
  • Necessary tools: You’re going to need a screwdriver to install the graphics card in your PC.

How to install a graphics card: Step by step guide

  • The first thing you need to do is locate the PCIe slot on the motherboard to install the graphics card. if you’re upgrading an existing PC, then power down the PC, remove all the connections, open the case, and remove the existing GPU to free the PCIe slot. This is also when you’ll make sure the clip on the side of the slot is released.

A reinforced PCIe slot on Aorus Pro Z690 motherboard

  • A lot of motherboards have multiple PCIe ports, but only one of them is usually a full-sized slot with all lanes dedicated to expansion card. Some motherboards, like the one we’re using here for this demonstration, also have reinforced slots. You don’t need reinforced slots unless you’re dealing with a massive GPU like, say, an RTX 3090 or some variant of it from a third-party vendor. You should be fine with a normal slot too.
  • Before we begin installing the GPU, you have to remove the expansion slot cover from the PC case to make space for the GPU. These expansion slots on the PC case could be horizontal or vertical.

An RTX 2080 Super being installed on a motherboard

  • You start the installation by hovering the GPU on top of the PCIe slot. Once you’ve aligned the cutouts on the card and the port, push down the GPU to slide the connector into the slot.
  • Once the graphics card is securely installed, you’ll notice that the GPU bracket also aligns perfectly the expansion slot on the chassis. This is when you’ll need a screwdriver to screw the rear bracket of the GPU on the case to fully secure the graphics card in place.

A screwdriver being used to secure a GPU in a PC case

  • Lastly, you need to connect the required PSU cables on the graphics card to deliver power. These cables are bundled with the GPU itself. Alternatively, you can also buy custom cables of different colors or even RGB lights.

PCIe connector slots on an RTX 2080 Super GPU

How to install graphics card: Final Thoughts

Well, that concludes the graphics card installation. If you followed each and every step then your graphics card should work without any issues. Once everything in place and you’re ready to get going, you’ll have to download the latest drivers for your GPU. These drivers make sure your operating system can properly communicate with the GPU. Both AMD and Nvidia have different drivers for their graphics cards. You can check out our dedicated collection of the best AMD graphics cards and the best Nvidia graphics cards to buy in 2021, if you’re particular about the available options from a brand. As always, you can also join our XDA Computing Forums to discuss your build or get more product recommendations.

About author

Karthik Iyer
Karthik Iyer

Karthik covers PC hardware for XDA Computing. When not at work, you will find him yelling at his monitors while playing video games.

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