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How to Install a New Graphics Card on Your Desktop Computer

by Paul Sanders
Published April 29, 2010 | Updated August 17, 2015

Installing a new graphics card, also known as a video card, is a great way to boost your desktop computer's speed and processing power when it comes to games and videos. A video card takes over image processing for your CPU, allowing it to focus resources elsewhere. A new graphics card can make video smoother and images crisper. Follow these steps to install a new graphics card on your desktop computer.

Installing a Video Card:

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Things You'll Need
Desktop computer
Video card
Phillips-head screwdriver
Latex gloves (optional)
  1. Choose a New Video Card

    Check your user manual or look inside your computer to learn which type of expansion slot it uses. Your new graphics card should match the slot, or it won't fit. Typically, the video graphics card or slot will be labeled PCI, AVG, or PCIe. Compare the video specifications for games and other programs with the specifications for the graphics cards you are considering. Use the recommended minimum on software system requirements as a guide for how much memory and processing speed your graphics card will need for games and video.

  2. Prepare Your Computer

    Unplug your monitor, mouse, keyboard, and other devices from the desktop computer tower. Leave the tower plugged into the surge protector. Lay the tower on its side and remove the cover. If possible, work on your desktop computer in a non-carpeted area to reduce static electricity.

  3. Locate an Open Expansion Slot

    If this is the first time you have removed the cover, you will probably see several free slots. You may need to remove an exterior slot cover to make room for the card. This will expose the connection ports on the graphics card to the back of the desktop computer. Remove the graphics card from its packaging, holding the video card by its edges. Never touch the sides of the video card or you may damage it with static electricity from your body. Press the graphics card gently but firmly into the expansion slot. If the graphics card requires an additional power supply, connect it using the user manual provided with the card.

  4. Install New Drivers and Software

    Plug your monitor, keyboard, and mouse into the desktop computer and turn it on. Your graphics card usually comes with a CD containing the necessary software. If it's not included, you may need to download the software from the manufacturer's website. Consult your user manual to learn how.

  5. Test Your Installed Graphics Card

    After installing the graphics card software, you may need to unplug your monitor and plug it directly into the graphics card port in the newly exposed expansion slot. Follow instructions in your user manual to check your desktop computer settings. You should be able to check your computer's list of installed hardware to confirm the installation, usually labeled under display adapters. Play a high resolution video or game to test out your new graphics card settings. Adjust them according to your user manual.