How to Upgrade a Video Card

With graphics that are more realistic than ever, PC/ computer games have become more and more popular in recent years. To keep up with ever increasing graphics of these games, it is a good idea to know how to update a video card. An out of date card will simply not allow some games to run or may cause lag and distort images during game play. If you are experiencing any of these problems, the likelihood is that new video card would be the remedy. Game performance would improve as well as image quality. Many existing games will automatically lower their settings to accommodate older cards, but many of the upcoming releases simply require powerful cards or they won’t run no matter how much tweaking is done to the settings.

Do some research

Before going to the store and purchasing the newest video card, you have to be certain that your current system is able to support the card. Minimum video card requirements have increased and it may work out to be more cost effective to buy an entirely new computer than to upgrade an older system to where it would be compatible with a new video card.

Using a screwdriver, open your computer and check to see whether the card is an AGP or PCI Express card slot. Systems over two years old may still have AGP and upgrading the system might be best.

If the computer has a PCI Express slot, then you are one step closer to upgrading the video card.
You will also need to determine whether the computer has enough space surrounding the video card slot to accommodate a new card. Many include now cooling fans that double the height of the card. Check the measurements to ensure the card you will purchase will fit. The dimensions of the card will be online or on the box.

Check the power capabilities of the system

Increased graphics means a lot of power consumption. The power supply for your computer may not be able to handle the increase in wattage caused by a new video card. If this happen, the computer may randomly turn off during game play or may even overheat. The power supply will usually have the maximum wattage capability printed on the back.

Turn the computer around and have a look. Ensure that the card selected can be supported by the PC power supply. At the very least, you will need 350W but 450W and upwards are recommended for serious gamers.

Select a video card and install.

One steps one and two are complete, it is easy to shop for a video card. Online retailers list in detail the capabilities and compatibility of the cards so it will be easy to narrow down what it is you need.

Popular Video Cards at

A deciding factor may be price, as new video cards can cost upwards of $400. There are affordable options is the $100 to $200 range, but like many other things, you get what you pay for and the expensive models are worth the cost in this case.

Installing the video card

  1. One the card has been purchased, this is the easiest part.
  2. Shut down and unplug the computer
  3. Open the computer case, and remove the old card. A Phillips screwdriver is only tool normally needed for this.
  4. Plug in the new card and replace the screw that secures it
  5. Close the computer case and plug in.
  6. Turn the computer on and the new video card is ready to be used

Tips and warnings

  • Use an anti-static wrist strap when opening the case and handling the video card