Hardware Guide 2013: How To Upgrade Your GPU For Beginners

Written by Jon Sutton on Thu, Dec 26, 2013 2:30 PM

Every PC gamer’s favourite upgrade option is the graphics card. We can’t help ourselves in the quest for more power in our gaming rigs, and what better way to get it than splashing out on a new GPU.

First things first you’re going to want to check your power supply (PSU) to see if you’ve got enough voltage running through to get your new beast chugging along. Opening up your case following the instructions in the earlier CPU guide and you should see a pretty large box-like fan blowing out the back of your PC. Check the small-print on the side and it should tell you its total continuous power.

Power draw from GPUs is much more efficient than it once was when it peaked around the Nvidia GTX 8800 days, so if you’re sporting a 500W and up PSU you’ll generally be okay. If you’re not sure then the tools here should help to give you an indication of your PCs power draw.

Now you’ll need to see how much physical space you’ve got in your PC. Beware that some small form factor PCs will obviously struggle to fit some of the larger more powerful graphics cards in.

It’s time for the fun part now, choosing your GPU. If its power draw is going to push your PSU to the max then that’s obviously worth upgrading at the same time.

GPU Drivers

Now that your monstrous new graphics card has arrived you should be aware that your PC will have existing software known as drivers, that are for your old GPU. These drivers are programs used to get your GPU to run smoothly with all the other hardware in the rig. Normally you will find that by replacing your GPU and then powering your PC back up, your operating system will detect a driver conflict (as there are no drivers now for the newly installed GPU) and then suggest that it should find and load in new drivers for your new GPU. This will be done automatically, as your OS will install the basic drivers to get things looking normal again. If the drivers are not working properly then the desktop will be the wrong screen resolution size and other visible cues will be present. If this auto update does not happen then you may have to uninstall all of the graphics drivers manually to prevent the conflicts. This is beyond the reach of this particular guide though, but it could be as simple as going to the add/remove programs tab in your control panel. But proceed with care, as you do not want to do any unknown damage.

Physically the graphics card only needs to be disconnected from a few items, before you can replace it with your new GPU. These items are the chassis (case), the monitor(s), the power supply unit and the motherboard.

Turn Off Your Power Supply And Unplug It From The Wall

Next open up your PC (again as per the instructions linked above) and find your current graphics card nestled inside. You will also see cables linking your old GPU to your power supply. Unplug those as shown in the image to the left.

Disconnect any monitor cables from the back of your graphics card. The monitor cables will be plugged into the back of the GPU and possibly held in place with screws that should be easily unscrewed with your fingers.

 

To remove the card from the case you should see that it will have one or two screws keeping it in place to your PC case/chassis. Unscrew them. You may need a screw driver for this. Once you have unscrewed these, remember to support the GPU with your hand so as not to put undue strain on the motherboard, which the GPU will still be plugged into. Some graphics cards are relatively heavy. The final thing is to disconnect from the motherboard - Look for the little connecting lever. You will need to push it to completely release the graphics card from the motherboard. The lever will usually be found on the far right side of where the graphics card slots into the motherboard or towards the top of the graphics card slot. Look at it closely to check if it is a push or pull lever before forcing it to release. If its a push then push it down firmly, until you see it release the graphics card. And then the GPU should come away.

Get your new card out of its anti-  static bag and slide it into the now empty PCI slot, pushing it down  firmly yet gently until its completely seated in the slot. Make sure the motherboard lever has popped back into place. Screw the motherboard back into the case. Reattach the monitor cables. Then its time to juice the new GPU up, connecting the power supply to the graphics card. Pop everything back together and job done.

Boot up your PC and visit the Device Manager in the control to check its recognised, then go grab the latest drivers from your graphics hardware manufacturer and install them. Now, finally, it’s time for the fun to begin, enjoy your beefed up games!

What's been your latest GPU upgrade?

And do you have any tips you can also share with people below that we may have missed out?

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05:32 Apr-12-2014

GTX 650ti windforce x2 USA price 150 dollars, Mexico price, 200 dollars, same other thinks, thats the reason of my rig hahaha FKNG COUNTRY :C

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17:18 Apr-04-2014

What would be best gpu for 90 pound.
Thanks

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20:02 Apr-04-2014

Maybe an r7 260x? unless prices where you live are ourageous like in my country :D

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11:09 Apr-02-2014

how do you add gpu's that are not on gd? i want to add this one http://www.msi.com/product/vga/R9_280_GAMING_3G.html\#specification

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23:43 Apr-01-2014

Need advice pls, i gotta choose between a pc with an HD 7870 with 8gigs RAM (2x4 1333) (average mobo) or a pc with an HD 7770 with 8 gigs of RAM (2x4 1600) (decent mobo). Should i sacrifice GPU for more RAM freq? both have fx6300

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21:12 Apr-03-2014

go with 7870

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00:21 Apr-04-2014

at last somebody cares :,) lol, thanks, i was told the same in other site ;)

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00:38 Apr-01-2014

Hii, I have a problem, when my GPU idle the temperature is around 35 celsius when full load 99% the temperature could reach 77 celsius. is it normal ?

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02:00 Apr-02-2014

My GPU reaches 5% (maximum load) while idle at 36º celsius, if you are overclocking I would suggest to stop doing it, that temp and load are really bad, go to a hardware store so you can get your PC checked,

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08:20 Apr-02-2014

I am not overclock it, it has overclocked from the factory. okay thanks for the suggestion. does the problem from the GPU or other component ???

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10:58 Apr-02-2014

AMD cards are known for their high running temps. My old AMD HD4870 could reach 90 when i really pushed it. I just got this gpu so i havnt been able to test it yet, i will try tonight and let u know

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18:32 Apr-21-2014

check on increasing airflow to the card and changing thermal compound. use afterburner to change the fan curve if you want after to help cool the card a little more.

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11:18 Mar-24-2014

is there any program that alow me to know how much mine PSU has a voltage cuz there is not a sticker on my psu box.

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09:39 Apr-08-2014

Don't quote me 100% on this bit I'm sure the last time I used speedfan that had voltage figures for each of the rails.

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03:20 Mar-22-2014

Hey guys, I'm thinking of a GPU upgrade. What GPU should I get that's quite inexpensive? :)

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10:16 Mar-22-2014

What's your budget?

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10:52 Mar-22-2014

Hey! I don't think you need an upgrade, your current rig can handle most of the games at that resolution :D

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10:56 Mar-22-2014

Well, if he really wants an upgrade, a 660 ti, 760 or 770 would be great :)

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11:04 Mar-22-2014

Yeah, lets wait for his reply about budget :)

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12:57 Mar-22-2014

My budget would be around $150-$200. Not much, but a little upgrade to my own. :)

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13:30 Mar-22-2014

Well you can get lots of cards like an amd r9 270x/7870 or if you want nvidia gtx 660/650 ti boost

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23:50 Mar-22-2014
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18:01 Mar-07-2014

with my rig, is 550 watts enough and safe? please help me.

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07:02 Mar-09-2014

My rig has a 500 watt PSU and everything works fine! You're good to go with 550W ;)

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08:21 Mar-04-2014

I want to know about PSU more, can I run this spesification (intel core i7 4770k, ram 16GB, VGA asus nvidia geforce GTX 760 2GB) with psu is 700watt ?.....

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14:11 Mar-05-2014

Sure you can!

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15:37 Feb-27-2014

Hey guys, I want to get the hd7770 to upgrade my PC. But would my current rig benefit more from the hd 7790? My psu is 500w

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07:09 Mar-09-2014

Seems like you already got yourself the 7770. How's everything going?

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15:16 Feb-23-2014

Guys, for how much time will my system hold me? At least 1-2 years? And am I ready for the next gen games?

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16:57 Feb-23-2014

your system will be enough for at least 2 years but you need atleast 8 gb of ram

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19:06 Feb-23-2014

Thats what I was thinking but nowadays games dont need more than 4 GB of ram, though Im planning to upgrate the ram for the future :D

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09:32 Mar-05-2014

Trust me, you're going to want to get 8 GBs of RAM...

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12:57 Mar-21-2014

Plan on a new CPU in the next year or so to last a bit longer than 2 years :)

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16:24 Feb-22-2014

I'm looking to upgrade my PC for less than $600. Are these parts a good combo: CPU-FX6300, GPU-Zotac AMP! Geforce GTX 760 2GB, MOBO-Gigabyte 970A D3P, PSU-Cougar RX600 600W, and a bigger case. Anything else I should need? is 6GB RAM okay?

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11:22 Feb-23-2014

8gb ram is the perfect match for your gpu

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05:01 Feb-26-2014

Yeah I would get that but from what I read, 6GB is still good and I'd rather upgrade my GPU to be able to play next-gen games and last a while before I'd have to upgrade it. So does everything look good? If so I can't wait to order these :)

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10:23 Feb-26-2014

Even though you can go with a 500W powersupply to save some more money and buy something else, your system looks great, expect to max out all the latest games and enjoy the amazingness! :-)

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15:23 Feb-21-2014

i3 4330 or FX-6300?

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11:24 Feb-23-2014

FX-6300

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09:30 Mar-05-2014

definitely FX-6300

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22:41 Feb-08-2014

I hate the butterfly locks almost broke it recently

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13:36 Feb-08-2014

how much is an overclock to 500MHz on my gpu?

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11:35 Mar-22-2014

It's about a 15% increase if that's what you're asking :)

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00:56 Jan-31-2014

this is the rig i'm currently building, is it any good and how long do you think it will be future proofed for???

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05:34 Jan-31-2014

you are already too late..
but, seriously, umm that cpu will need to be replaced before the vcard, suppose you want the best of the best. so maybe a year :

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16:56 Feb-02-2014

That rig is more future proof then anything but I7 rigs, you will be good for quite the while ( Due to 8 cores )unless you want the best of the best, you can always see what steam rollers brings when ever they bring it out >.>

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05:38 Feb-05-2014

agreed. it's gonna be good

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05:35 Feb-06-2014

My rig seems to be running games perfectly fine and I have a lot of games.

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08:43 Feb-06-2014

seems?

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00:01 Feb-09-2014

There are certain games like dayz that the fx 8350 just hands down sucks.

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04:21 Feb-11-2014

you may be spoiled. you got me crushed! i best play older games now(fc3) and i look forward to playing 2014 games in 2016, but ultra, with 8 cores post upgrade

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21:10 Feb-02-2014

Looks like the cpu will be your first issue. the gpu looks like it should last you a few years.

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02:32 Feb-10-2014

Again, the cpu will last him till he needs a gpu upgrade if not maybe longer. You have to understand games will now start using all 8 of those cores, hence why it has such great future proofing. Not to mention the price is great.

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03:00 Feb-10-2014

Truth be told I think by the time we see really good 8 core usage this cpu will be obsolete.

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22:36 Jan-27-2014

Hi if i want to uppgrade but have a tight buget what gpu should i get?

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22:40 Jan-27-2014

mine

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10:34 Jan-28-2014

You can get mine too, I got it for 200 Euros where I live and its awesome :)

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17:42 Jan-28-2014

that's almost 275 dollars! :), is pretty awesome though not very thrifty. mine retails for around 160 dollars, or 117 euros. (using google conversions chart):P

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20:36 Jan-28-2014

yeah, every market has different prices :)

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16:41 Feb-02-2014

You could look for mine, picked it up for like 180$ CAD a mouth ago, that is if their are any still kicking around. As the 270x is pretty much the same proformace ( like 4% difference)

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21:12 Feb-02-2014

I currently have a R7 250 installed, its not the best but for less then 100$ its worth every penny.

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11:46 Jan-25-2014

what is the best gpu for me i have 2 processors in i pc as i have workstation

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22:02 Jan-29-2014

dude, you cant have 2 processors in one pc...

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10:06 Feb-01-2014

i have dell workstation 490 with 2 intel xeon 5160

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14:04 Feb-02-2014

You can, but that's not a great option for gaming. Get 7770 as maximum, anything else would cause bottleneck

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08:53 Jan-25-2014

what is the best gpu for me i have 2 processors in i pc as i have workstation

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05:25 Jan-21-2014

which is the greatest agp card for me which can support call of duty ghost in high setting

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Can They Run... |

| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-10870H 8-Core 2.20GHz GeForce RTX 2060 Asus ROG STRIX Gaming 6GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Ryzen 5 3400G 4-Core 3.7GHz GeForce RTX 2060 6GB 16GB
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Ryzen 7 3750H 4-Core 2.3 GHz GeForce RTX 2060 Mobile 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i7-6800K 6-Core 3.4GHz GeForce GTX 1080 Asus ROG Strix Gaming OC 8GB Edition 32GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-10700 8-Core 2.90GHz GeForce GTX 1050 Gigabyte D5 2GB 8GB
0% No [1 votes]
Ryzen 5 3600 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 2070 Gigabyte Windforce 8GB 16GB
100% Yes [4 votes]
Ryzen 7 5800H 8-Core 3.2GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile 16GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1440p
Ryzen 9 3900X 12-Core 3.8GHz GeForce RTX 3070 EVGA FTW3 Ultra Gaming 8GB 32GB
80% Yes [5 votes]
| 60FPS, Low, 720p
APU A8-7410 Quad-Core Radeon R5 7410 8GB
100% Yes [4 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i5-11400 6-Core 2.7GHz GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Mobile 8GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen 5 3600 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1080 MSI Gaming X 8GB Edition 16GB
100% Yes [3 votes]
| 30FPS, Low, 720p
Ryzen 5 3400G 4-Core 3.7GHz Radeon RX Vega 11 6GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 30FPS, High, 1080p
Core i5-11400 6-Core 2.7GHz GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Mobile 8GB
66.6667% Yes [3 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium,
Ryzen 5 3500U 4-Core 2.1 GHz Radeon RX Vega 8 8GB
| 30FPS, Low,
Ryzen 5 3500U 4-Core 2.1 GHz Radeon RX Vega 8 8GB
50% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i5-10400 6-Core 2.90GHz GeForce GTX 1650 16GB
33.3333% Yes [3 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i7-7700K 4-Core 4.2GHz GeForce RTX 2080 Super 8GB 16GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i7-7700K 4-Core 4.2GHz GeForce RTX 2080 Super 8GB 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i5-10300H 4-Core 2.50GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile 16GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 30FPS, Low, 720p
Athlon II X2 245 GeForce GTS 250 4GB