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A Guide to Upgrading Your Computer Graphics

Updated on October 14, 2008

Computer Graphics

Computer games and software have developed into a multi-million dollar industry since the advent of computer gaming over 30 years ago. Computer games now feature detailed, three-dimensional graphics complete with accurate shading and proportion. Knowing this, there is nothing more disappointing than discovering that your computer lacks the graphics capability to play your newest game. Of course this can be solved with a simple upgrade, but there are a few guidelines you should follow before attempting to buy and install a new graphics card.

Simple Graphics Display

This image, as well as others, are displayed through your computer graphics card.
This image, as well as others, are displayed through your computer graphics card.

Choosing a Graphics Card

First, find a graphics card that is compatible with your computer, needs, and budget. Before buying a graphics card, check the system requirements and make sure you meet them. If not, you will need to look elsewhere for a suitable card. Be sure to spend only enough money to satisfy your needs. If you are a casual gamer or just want better graphics when browsing the web, there is no need to invest a large amount of money in a graphics card. On the other hand, if you are a serious computer gamer you might decide to invest extra money in features such as large memory and Pixel Shader support. Other important factors to consider are the available expansion slots in your computer and whether the card receives power from an external device or directly from the power supply of your computer.

A Graphics Card

Installing the Card

Once you have purchased an appropriate card, you have to install it. This process should take no more than thirty minutes. Turn off your computer and remove the screws on the side panel with a non-magnetic screwdriver. On most computers, you will have to slide the side panel back a little to completely remove it.

Now that the side panel is removed, you will be faced with the chips and wires that are the internal workings of your computer. It may be intimidating at first, but don't be afraid. We are only concerned with a few things here.

Installation of the Graphics Card

Installing the Card cont.

If you already have a graphics card installed, you will need to unscrew the card from the PC frame and slide it out gently. If you do not currently have a graphics card installed, simply remove the covers over the expansion slots that you wish to use. Once this is done you are ready to insert the card.

Carefully remove the new graphics card from the packaging if you haven't already, and align it with the appropriate slots. Be sure to hold it near the edges without touching any of the capacitors or other components, so as not to damage the card. Gently but firmly press the card into place and reinsert the screws or tabs to secure the card to the PC frame. If your chosen graphics card requires a power source other than that of your main computer power supply, make sure the needed adapters are connected. Instructions for this will be provided with your graphics card.

Graphics Card with an External Power Source

Finishing Up

You can now replace the side panel and turn your computer on. If you wish, you can turn your computer on before replacing the side panel to be sure that the fan on your graphics card is working properly. If you choose to do this, be sure to turn your computer off before replacing the side panel again.

When you power up your computer, you are almost ready to play that newest game. The final step is installing the proper drivers for your graphics card. A driver CD is usually included with the card, but these drivers may be outdated. To make sure you have the most recent drivers, you may want to download them directly from the manufacturer's website. Once the drivers are installed you are ready to go, and you can finally enjoy your new and updated graphics capabilities.

Improved Graphics

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