Installing a Graphics Card: Step by Step QuickGuide

This guide on how to install a graphics card provides you with the knowledge on how to correctly install your new graphics card quickly, and safely. Before you begin, you need to be aware of some important safety considerations. You don’t want to go damaging your brand new graphics card!

Installing a graphics card in your computer is extremely easy to do. It should only take you a matter of minutes before you're all done and ready to experience your awesome new card.

Safety Precautions

Ok, assuming you have chosen and bought your graphics card, we will start off with some safety basics and the tools you will need. If you haven't decided on a graphics card yet, you may wish to read the gaming video card guide first.

This information was covered in the first step of building your computer if you've been reading this installation series of articles from the start, but it's crucial so we'll repeat it again here.

Installing a graphics card will only require a non-magnetic screwdriver, and an anti-static wrist band (optional). The screwdriver is used to screw your graphics card into place, and the anti-static wrist band you wear to protect your graphics card from static electricity.

Static electricity can cause damage to your graphics card. You don't want to skip on wearing the anti-static wrist band because even the slightest of shocks can completely ruin your new graphics card. You've been warned!

Steps to Installing Your Graphics Card

  1. Turn off your computer and unplug all power cords. Remove the side panel to gain access to the inside of your computer. Don’t touch any of the components inside.
  2. With the side panel off, lay your computer on its side. Locate either the PCI-Express slot on your motherboard.
  3. If you’re building this computer for the first time, the IO plate covering the AGP/PCI-Express slot in the back of your computer should still be in place. Remove it, being careful not to touch any components. Some cases have their IO plates secured with screws or tabs, others simply require you to twist them off.
  4. Carefully remove your graphics card from its box, and it should be in an anti-static bag. It’s a good idea to keep your graphics card in this bag until the very moment you’re going to install it. Open the bag and pick up your video card by its side edges (try to touch the card as little as possible too). If you're not using an anti-static wrist band, then make sure you're holding onto your computer case with one hand when picking up the video card in your other, so that you don't create static electricity that may damage your card.
  5. Now you’re ready to plug your card into the PCI-Express slot. Do this gently, but make sure the card is firmly slotted in. When your graphics card is in place, some cards require you to screw it in. Check the documentation that you got with the card if you are unsure about this (or anything else for that matter).
  6. Once the graphics card has been secured to the case, you can re-install the side panel of your case, connect your monitor to your graphics card, and turn your computer back on!

Installing the Graphics Card Drivers

Now that your graphics card has been installed, the only thing left to do is install the drivers. Your graphics card should come with its own drivers on CD, so once you’ve turned your PC on, simply insert the drivers CD and follow the instructions.

It’s important to note that the drivers that come with your graphics card are sometimes outdated. So you will need to visit your video card manufacturer’s website and download the latest drivers.

See more detail on installing graphics cards including images from a real-life build over at our main how to build a pc tutorial.