Upgrading or Installing a Graphics Card:
Step-by-Step QuickStart Guide
This is a basic overview on how to install a graphics card and may be all the guidance you need if you're already fairly confident with PC hardware and just want a basic overview, or if you've already built a PC before and need a quick refresher.
See our full guide on building a computer for much more detailed instructions on installing GPUs (and all your other parts) that includes clear, high-quality images taken from our latest 2018 real-life build to help you easily and precisely follow each and every step, plus indepth coverage of safety precautions, tools, workspace setup, and everything else you need to know as a first-timer builder.
Upgrading or installing a graphics card in your computer is quite straightforward and easy to do even if you have zero hardware experience, and should only take you a matter of minutes before you're all done and ready to experience your awesome new upgrade in graphics power. Before we get into the basic step by step instructions of how to install a graphics card, you'll want to consider safety first.
See Also: How to Choose the Right Gaming Graphics Card
To summarize how to avoid static electricity when installing your GPU or any component for that matter, you'll want to either wear an anti-static wrist strap/band or regularly ground yourself before touching any components by placing your hands on a metal object such as your PC case. Static electricity can cause damage to your graphics card or other parts, or even to yourself in the worst case, so be sure to always be wary when handling PC parts.
Here's the basic steps to installing a graphics card, or adding/upgrading a card in an existing system (steps are practically the same):
- If upgrading an existing desktop computer, make sure to turn off your computer and unplug all power cords. Remove the side panel to gain access to the inside of your computer, which may require the use of a screwdriver. With the side panel off, lay your computer on its side so you can better access your motherboard. Locate the PCI-Express slot on your motherboard.
- If you’re building this computer for the first time, you'll need to remove the backplate in the back of your case that is covering up the space where your graphics card ports will fit. Some backplates will need a screwdriver, others can simply be twisted off.
- Check the graphics card manual just to be sure, and see if there's anything noteworthy to be aware of regarding its installation.
- Ground yourself if not wearing an anti static wrist band, and carefully remove your graphics card from its box and its anti-static bag, making sure to pick it up by its edges and avoiding touching any electrical bits of the card. Avoid touching the card as much as possible.
- Now to actually install your graphics card, lower it in carefully and gently slot it into the correct PCI-Express port, making sure to align it with the back of the case where you just removed the backplate. Gently but firmly slot the card in all the way; some cards will require you to be screwed in using your trusty screwdriver once again.
- Now that your card is firmly slotted onto your motherboard, you can move onto installing your other parts if building a new PC, or if you've just upgraded an existing computer then you'll want to download the latest drivers for your new card from the manufacturer's website. Always look for the latest version online instead of installing any drivers on a CD that you got with your card as it may be outdated.
That's it for our quickstart overview on how to install a graphics card. Good luck. See our DIY eBook if you're a first-time builder and want much more comprehensive instructions and accompanying photos.