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How to Install a Graphics Card in a Laptop

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Whether you are looking to upgrade your existing graphics or build a PC from scratch, this guide will show you how to install a graphics card in a laptop. We understand that this is a very daunting task and that is why we made this step-by-step process as easy to follow as possible. 

How to Install a Graphics Card in a Laptop

In order to install a graphics card in a laptop, you first need to check if your laptop supports upgradability, then buy a compatible more powerful GPU. You will then uninstall your old drivers, remove the current GPU, and then install the new GPU together with its drivers. 

Here is a straightforward step-by-step process to install a new graphics card in a laptop.

Installing a graphics card in a laptop

Step 1: Ensure the New Graphics Card is Compatible with your Laptop

All laptops do not use the same graphics card. Before you buy a new chip, you must first check whether your laptop supports upgradability and which graphic cards are compatible with it. You can easily figure this out by looking at the specs sheet.

Most graphics cards use the PCI Express expansion bus standard so your job is to ensure that your laptop has these slots. You will most likely find the slot next to the CPU along the PCI slots row.

If you don’t have these slots, it means that you cannot upgrade your graphics. In this case, you will either have to install a new motherboard or buy another laptop with more powerful graphics.

If your laptop is a bit old, you might want to check if there is enough real estate to accommodate the new card since most modern graphics chips are large. Finally, make sure that the new graphics card is more powerful than what you are replacing. 

For instance, the new card should support more modern peripheral connections such as HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI, and VGA. You might also have to update your BIOS and power-brick before installing a new GPU.

Step 2: Uninstall your Old Drivers

Most errors associated with graphics upgrades are a result of driver incompatibility. It is, therefore, important that you first remove the drivers that the laptop’s operating system is using to run the current graphics card.

Here is how to uninstall graphics drivers without breaking a sweat:

Open the Device Manager. You can do this by either pressing Windows Logo + X or searching on the search bar.

  1. Click on Device Manager.
  2. Double click on the Display Adapters option to expand it.
  3. Right-click on the revealed display adapter then click Uninstall device.
  4. Follow the instructions to remove the old display adapter.
  5. Power down the laptop and move to the next step.

Note: Do not restart your laptop since the drivers will be automatically reinstalled.

A silver laptop right beside a glass of water, notebook and mobile phone

Step 3: Remove the Old Graphics Card

Before installing a new graphics card, you will need to do away with the old one, unless you are building a PC from scratch. While this sounds like a straightforward process, it might be disastrous if you have never done this before. So, make sure to read this part keenly.

Start by removing any power cables if they are available. After that, remove the screws holding the old graphics card to the PCI Express backplate. You can either use a screwdriver or your fingers if they are thumbscrews. Store the screws safely since we will use them to install the upgrade GPU.

If you are using a modern GPU, there will likely be a clip mechanism holding the card in place. This clip is typically located underneath the graphics chip towards the end of the PCI slot and needs to be released before you can remove the GPU.

You can either release it by pressing or pulling to the side depending on your motherboard make. Once you have released the clip, carefully pull the card straight up to avoid damaging the PCI slot. Place it on an anti-static bag or any surface that is not electrically conductive.

Clean out the dust from the chassis before installing the new GPU.  We recommend that you use compressed air so as to root out all the accumulated dust.

Step 4: Installing the New Graphics Card

Now, this is the most crucial part. One wrong step could blow everything up so make sure to follow these instructions very carefully. You might even need to ground yourself to avoid any damages from electrostatic discharge.

Graphics card

If you bought a new card, it will most likely come in an antistatic bag. Remove it carefully while taking care not to touch any crucial contacts or circuitry.

Here is how to install it without messing things up:

  1. Gently insert the new GPU straight into the PCI-Express slot.
  2. Apply some pressure on top until it is comfortably positioned on the backplate.
  3. If your motherboard has a clip, it will automatically click into place when the GPU is properly inserted.
  4. If the GPU is wider than the old one, you might have to remove the neighboring panel to create more space.
  5. Use the screws you removed from the old GPU to secure the graphics card into the motherboard.
  6. If there are any power support ports, connect them before closing up your laptop.

Step 5: Install New Drivers

After ensuring that the GPU is securely in place and you’ve attached the power connectors right, close up the laptop and power it on. Your OS might require you to adjust to optimal resolution and color depth after detecting the new card.

If the display is a bit off, you might need to troubleshoot your installing to ensure that you did everything correctly.

To install new drivers, you can either download them or use a driver disc. In the case of a driver disk, simply insert the disc and follow the installation instructions. Depending on the new GPU, you can also download new drivers either from NVIDIA or AMD and follow the simple installation process. After the installation is finished, you might want to test your new graphics.

You can do this by playing a game and check if there are any changes in the picture quality.

Conclusion

We hope this guide will help you to properly install a graphics card in your laptop. Make sure to follow the procedure carefully as any mistakes could damage your laptop.