Introduction: How to Replace a Graphics Card in Almost Any Computer

Hi, my name is Joseph. I am a computer enthusiast who likes to teach people about computers. I am going to show you how to replace a graphics card within a computer, so you can upgrade your own computer whenever you feel like. Replacing a graphics card within a computer can be an easy way to make your computer run faster than ever before while running videos, modeling programs, and games.

Step 1:

The first thing I would do when working on a desktop computer would be to unplug everything from the computer tower, and place the tower on its side on a surface that does not conduct electricity well. I set a computer on its side so I am not fighting gravity the entire time I am working on the computer, not to mention that it is much less likely to fall over if it is already laying on a table. The surface the computer is set on is crucial. Computer components, such as a graphics card, do not like sudden spikes in electricity, such as a static shock. In order to prevent a static shock to the computer or its components, set the computer on an anti-static mat. If I don't have an anti-static mat, then a clean and dry wooden table or linoleum floor will do the same job.

Step 2:

The second thing I would do would be to take the computer panel off. This is a simple step that can be more or less complicated for some people, depending on how their computer case is set up. Most computers have two or three screws on the back of the computer that keeps the side panel secured to the case. Unscrew only the screws that are holding that side of the computer case on. Then, without lifting, push the side panel towards the back of the case. The panel should move back and then the panel can be lifted off the computer case. If the side panel does not have any screws holding it to the computer case, then look for a lever on the computer case. The side panel may have a spring-loaded lever keeping the panel in place. In this case, it may be easier to set the computer tower back upright if it is unclear which side of the computer may come off.

Step 3:

Next up, I would want to look at the back of the computer in order to see if there are screws holding the existing graphics card's exterior panel in place and ground myself to the computer case. On most of the computers I have seen that have had an expansion slot in the back of the computer case, there should be a few screws that hold down a metal plate that holds expansion cards, such as a graphics card, in place. Once the screws and metal plate have been removed, then I would find a way to ground myself to the computer case. This makes sure that the body does not have more static electricity build up than the computer case. The best way to do this would be to use an anti-static wrist strap. This wrist strap basically evens out the static electricity between the body and the computer by running a wire from the skin to the shell of the computer. If I did not have access to this wrist strap, then keeping one hand on the computer case would do the same job. However, I would then be limiting myself to only using one hand.

Step 4:

After that, it is time to replace the graphics card. If there is a graphics card currently attached to the main board of the computer, then I would check to see if there are any cables attached to the current card. If there are cables attached to the current graphics card, then unplug them and move the cables out of the way for not. Then, look for one or two plastic clips on either end of the slot the current graphics card is currently in. Once those clips have been located, push down and out on the clips in order to detach the current graphics card. Then, pull up on both ends of the graphics card in order to remove it from the motherboard. The side of the external panel of the card may hit the side of the expansion slot of the computer case. If this happens, then the card has been lifted as high as it can, and there should be enough clearance to move the card toward the center of the computer case. Once the exterior panel of the graphics card is inside the computer case, then lift the card out of the case and set the card onto an anti-static surface.

Step 5:

Now that the old graphics card has been removed, the next step would be to put the new card into the computer. Now, I would take the new graphics card and slide the exterior panel into one of the expansion slots in the computer case. Once the exterior panel of the graphics card is lined up with the case, find an expansion slot that would fit this graphics card. In most cases, this will be the same slot that the old graphics card was sitting in. Then, place the graphics card into the slot and push down on both corners of the card, so the card is being pushed into the motherboard. If the card is in place, then two clicking sounds should have been made by the plastic clips latching onto the card. If two clicks were not heard, then make sure the plastic clips on both ends of the slot are firmly attached to the graphics card (the card should not be able to be easily pulled out of the slot if one or both of the clips successfully grabbed onto the card). If there are any ports on the graphics card that look like they would fit one of the cables that are currently unused in the computer, then plug the cable that fits into the graphics card. Odds are that the cable that needs to be plugged into the graphics card is there to supply additional power to the card. However, not all graphics cards have this requirement.

Step 6:

Once the new graphics card has been inserted into the expansion slot, then the next step would be to replace the metal plate on the back of the computer. The metal plate should be placed over the lip on the exterior panel of the graphics card, in order to secure the card in place. Once the plate is in place, screw the screws back into place. At this point, I would remove my anti-static wrist strap because I am no longer working with internal computer components, such as a graphics card.

Step 7:

At this point, the final step would be to reattach the side panel of the computer case. If the computer case uses screws to secure the panel to the case, then take the panel and place it where it should be on the computer case. Do not force the panel into place. Take the side panel now, and slide it toward the back of the computer until it falls into the grooves of the computer case. At this point, the side panel should be tight to the side of the computer case. Now, push the panel forward until it is flush with the front of the computer. A large amount of force is not necessary for this step. If I need to push hard to secure the side panel of a computer case, then the panel is not meant to fit that way. Then, take the screws and secure the side panel to the computer case. If I have a computer that uses a spring-loaded lever for the side panel, then the side panel should just pop into place. A little force may be necessary, but I would just do the exact opposite of what I did to take the panel off.

Step 8:

The installation is complete. All I would need to do now would be to install the drivers for the graphics card by using the CD that came with the card, and that is it.

Note: The graphics card will not work until the drivers are installed. If the drivers have not been installed onto the computer before replacing graphics cards, then a computer monitor will need to be attached to the motherboard instead of the graphics card. Once the drivers have been installed, then the computer will use the graphics card to output video to the computer monitor.