How To Install A GPU Into Your Gaming PC

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Most PCs have CPUs that have integrated graphics processors, but, for gaming, you’ll need something more powerful – a dedicated graphics card.



RELATED: Best Gaming Graphics Cards A graphics card comes with a dedicated GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) that will deliver faster and higher-quality graphics for video gaming. They also come with integrated vRAM (video random access memory) for faster load times and usually a fan to keep the graphics card cool.

Choosing A Graphics Card


First, you’ll need to buy a graphics card. Most gamers opt for Nvidia RTX GPUs, such as the NVIDIA RTX 4000, although some GPUs from the Nvidia GTX series are suitable for low-level gaming. AMD is the other big player in the graphics card market – the AMD RX 7000 is a good choice as well, for example.

Intel has now broken into the market too with its Intel Arc series, but going for one of the two leaders, NVIDIA and AMD is recommended for better driver support and gaming experience.

Things to look for in a GPU include at least six to eight gigabytes of vRAM and a minimum clock speed of 1.5-2.5 GHz. Gaming in 1440p or 4k will require higher-end GPUs than gaming in 1080p.

The best NVIDIA GPUs come with DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) and ray tracing technology, which provide much better performance and graphics for your PC.

Before buying a graphics card, ensure your power supply unit has enough wattage to support it. The GPU will state how much wattage it requires, but remember that this wattage is in addition to the wattage that your existing components, such as your CPU, draw from the PSU.

Also, make sure there is enough space in your PC case! Some graphics cards can be quite big. Even if your case is theoretically big enough, if you have many cables, it might be hard to fit it in.

RELATED: How To Find The Best Graphics Settings For Your PC

How To Install Your Graphics Card

inserting graphics card in PCIe slot

Your graphics card goes in the PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) slot, which is an extension slot on your motherboard that allows you to add components like wireless network cards and graphics cards to your motherboard.

These slots come in different sizes, with larger slots providing higher data transfer rates. Graphics cards typically go in the 16x slot, which is the longest slot on most motherboards.

While you can insert smaller extensions, like a wireless network card, into a larger slot, it’s not recommended to install a graphics card in a smaller slot, as it may not work.

Before you get started, ensure your PC is not plugged into the wall socket, and wear an ESD strap to ground yourself.

Open up your case and identify the PCIe x16 slot. Next to this slot, there will be a covered slot on your PC case for the I/O (input/output) ports of the graphics card, which allow you to connect it to your monitor.

Remove the cover on this slot. You may need to use a screwdriver to do so.


Once that is done, insert the graphics card into the PCIe slot. Most PCIe slots have a small lever to open up the slot, allowing the graphics card to be inserted.

Make sure to insert the graphics card correctly, with the I/O ports facing the outside of the case. Be gentle with it; don’t try to force the graphics card in. If it doesn’t fit, it is likely facing the wrong way.

After inserting the card into the slot, screw it into the PC case using the screws you removed from the I/O slot cover.

Then, connect the graphics card to the PSU (power supply unit). Most PCIe slots provide 25 watts by default; PCIe 16x slots provide 75 watts of power. However, this is usually insufficient for most powerful graphics cards, which is why it needs to draw power from the PSU.

PCIe cable connector

Identifying the PCIe connector among the cables coming out of your PSU isn’t difficult. PCIe connectors typically have eight pins, although some older models have only six pins. Some cables come with a 6+2 style connector, allowing you to couple the extra two pins to the original six pins if your graphics card requires an eight-pin connector.

Once you’ve connected the graphics card to the PSU, close the PC case and connect the graphics card to your monitor via its I/O ports. The exact ports will vary depending on the GPU you have, but HDMI and DisplayPorts are the most common nowadays.

Most gamers prefer using DisplayPort, as it has greater bandwidth (supporting more monitors), and it supports higher-resolution gaming than the most widely-used HDMI ports. However, the newest version of HDMI – HDMI 2.1 – is also pretty good, although not all monitors support it.

Whether you use HDMI or DisplayPort, make sure you connect it to the correct port in your monitor, looking for the appropriate labels next to the ports on your motherboard and monitor.

Finally, the last step is ensuring your PC has the required drivers for your graphics card. Device drivers help your computer communicate with input/output devices like graphics cards.

If you have an NVIDIA graphics card, download NVIDIA GeForce Experience, which will automatically update your drivers and optimize your gaming experience. If you have an AMD graphics card, download the driver software here (it will automatically detect your graphics card and update your drivers accordingly).

NEXT: A Beginner’s Guide To Watercooling For Your Gaming PC

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