How to install a graphics card

How to install a graphics card

Just purchased your new AMD GPU, or ready to install your Nvidia GPU? Depending on when you’re reading this, you might even be putting a dedicated Intel GPU into your PC! 

Whatever the case is, the instructions are pretty similar. 

Here we go.

Installing your graphics card in your system

Step 1: Completely power off the system, and open your chassis

First, make sure that the system has been turned off completely.

Use Shut Down instead of Restart, Lock, or Sleep when turning off your PC. Don’t mash the power button, either, since that can damage your OS files if your PC hasn’t been properly shut down.

Once you’re sure that your PC has shut off (it shouldn’t be making any noise, and no activity indicator LEDs on the chassis should be active), it’s time to make sure no stray electricity is lingering in the system.

First, press the switch to turn off the power supply on the back of your PC, then unplug it.

Now, press and hold the power button on your chassis for twenty seconds. This will ensure any electricity lingering in the system is spent and reduces the chance of electric shock when working inside of your case.

Now that you have all that taken care of, it’s time to open up your case. The exact instructions will depend on your case manufacturer, but most of the time you’ll have either case screws or tabs to pull in order to remove your side panel.

Step 2: Remove slot covers from your chassis in accordance to card thickness

Now that your PC is opened up, it’s time to clear up space for your new graphics card.

The PCI slots on your chassis should be secured with Phillips head screws, and can often be unscrewed with your thumb. Remove the first screw to free up the first PCI slot, and continue until you have enough slots free to fit your graphics card.

Most graphics cards will occupy only 2 PCI slots in your chassis, but you may need to make room for 3. Remove however many are necessary for placing your GPU into your system, but keep the screws handy.

Already have a graphics card inside?

If there is already a GPU inside, you’ll need to unscrew it from the PCI slots. Keep those on your person, you’ll need them for Step 5. 

If any power cables are connected to your graphics card, remove them now. After that, push down the tab on the PCI Express slot it’s inserted into in order to loosen it. You should now be able to pull out the GPU without any interference.

Step 3: Push down the tab on the PCI Express slot

Now that the space is clear for your graphics card to be inserted, you should notice a tab on the left edge of your PCI Express x16 slot. This will help secure your card once it’s installed.

Push it down for now in order to make room for your graphics card.

Step 4: Insert graphics card and press down until it locks into place

Now, carefully insert the graphics card into your system, being sure to align its PCI Express connector with the slot on your motherboard. Press it down until it locks into place and the PCI slot tab comes back up.

Step 5: Screw it in

Using the screws salvaged from Step 2, screw your graphics card into your chassis.

Step 6: Plug in any necessary power cables

If your graphics card has any power cables, now is the time to plug them in. If possible, route them through any cable management space that your chassis might offer. Make sure that no cables in your system are in danger of pressing against the GPU fans, as that is a severe hazard for both you and your components.

Setting up your graphics card software

Congratulations, you’ve installed your graphics card!

Physically, anyway. Now, it’s time for the software side of things.

Step 0: Remove any previous display drivers, if you have them

If your previous graphics were integrated, skip this step.

If your previous graphics were discrete, and especially if they were from a different vendor, do this step.

So you have a shiny new graphics card…but chances are high that your previous GPU drivers are going to interfere with your new GPU installation. In order to prevent this from happening now or in the future, it’s best to remove those drivers now.

To do this, follow our instructions below:

  • Click the latest “Display Driver Uninstaller” release post.

Install GPU Software Step 0-1

  • Scroll down for the download link.

Install GPU Software Step 0-2

  • Scroll down to the Official Download Here button, and click it.

Install GPU Software Step 0-3

  • Place the .exe file in an easy-to-reach folder in your system, like your Downloads folder.

Install GPU Software Step 0-4

  • Open the .exe file, and allow it to extract to a folder you can easily find it. It will default to the folder you downloaded it to.

Install GPU Software Step 0-5

  • Once it has been extracted, go the folder in question and find the DDU folder. It should look something like this:

Install GPU Software Step 0-6

  • Open that folder, and right-click “Display Driver Uninstaller.exe”. Run it as Administrator.

Install GPU Software Step 0-7

  • Enable the options you see checked in this screenshot:

Install GPU Software Step 0-8

  • Under “Select device type”, select GPU.

Install GPU Software Step 0-9

  • Under “Select device”, select your previous GPU brand.

Install GPU Software Step 0-10

  • Now, click Clean and restart.

Install GPU Software Step 0-11

Once your PC has restarted, your system should be completely cleaned of its previous GPU drivers and should be ready for your new GPU installation. 

If this process didn’t work properly or you experience anything you expect may be a driver issue, come back to this program in Safe Mode to clean your display drivers for the cleanest possible install.

Step 1: Install AMD or Nvidia software for your GPU

This part is pretty easy, fortunately!

AMD Users: Head to https://www.amd.com/en/technologies/radeon-software and click “Download Now”. Your GPU should be automatically detected during this process, and its drivers should install alongside the Radeon Software for controlling it.

If your GPU isn’t identified during this process, head over to this page: https://www.amd.com/en/support/kb/faq/gpu-driver-autodetect

Nvidia Users: Head to https://www.nvidia.com/en-us/geforce/geforce-experience/ and click “Download Now”. This should auto-detect your GPU and install its drivers alongside GeForce Experience.

If your graphics card isn’t automatically detected during this install, click here: https://www.nvidia.com/Download/Scan.aspx?lang=en-us

Step 2: Verify that your card is fully-updated

If you followed our instructions properly, you should already have fully-updated drivers. To double-check that you have the latest and greatest, just click “Check for updates” in either AMD Adrenalin Software or Nvidia GeForce Experience.

Step 3: Enjoy your games!

Now get gaming!

…or being productive, if that’s your thing.

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PC guide
Christopher Harper is an up-and-coming tech writer with nearly a decade of experience (starting when he was 15!) and a genuine love for PC hardware, as well as tech and gaming at large. When he isn’t writing, he works on fiction, YouTube videos, and competitive gaming.

Independent, transparent, rigorous and authentic, our reviews are the most thorough and honest in PC gaming. Learn about our review process.

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