When you’re looking to upgrade your PC, a new graphics card will take things to the next level. No matter if you use your PC for work or for gaming, it’s important to keep your requirements in mind when you’re making a decision.

Choosing a card with excellent Video RAM and memory bandwidth will definitely enhance your experience, but you don’t want to invest in a great graphics card without checking it’s compatible with your PC first. 

If you’re unsure, this little guide will take you through all the steps towards making sure your graphics card works well with your motherboard, and will give you all the information you need to make a good choice. If you have any further questions, or want some fresh ideas, there’s more graphics cards to play Fortnite on bestbudget.com.

Integrated vs. Dedicated Graphics Cards

Firstly, it’s really important you check that your PC supports graphics cards replacements. For example, some models will have an integrated graphics card that’s permanently attached to the motherboard or CPU, so it’s not possible to make a replacement. Other PCs will have dedicated graphics cards instead. These attach to a designated spot on the motherboard, making them easy to remove and replace.

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To make sure your graphics card is able to be replaced, it’s quite easy to double check without opening up your case. PCs with integrated cards tend to have the monitor port grouped with all the other ports, whereas ones with dedicated cards tend to have a monitor port that’s separated from the other ones.

If you’re still unsure, you can always double check by opening up your PC and having a look. 

Connection Types

Once you’ve double checked your card type, if you do have a dedicated card, you’ll need to check what type of interface your motherboard has. This way, you’ll be able to make sure that it can link correctly with your chosen card.

The best way to do this is to check the expansion spaces on your motherboard, which will most likely be PCI Express. When you’re replacing a graphics card, you should make sure the motherboard has a PCI Express x16 space to attach the card. Depending on your setup, you may need two cards, in which case you’ll need two PCI Express x16 spaces free.

Don’t worry if your chosen card upgrade has a newer model PCI Express slot, because they’re compatible with older PCI spots, too.

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You also need to make sure that your graphics card is able to properly connect to the power supply. The majority of power supplies will use PCI Express connectors, but the configuration of these ports can vary across models. A general rule is that higher power graphics cards will need more connections to the power supply, so you need to make sure there’s enough space to meet this requirement.

If you’re looking at more powerful cards, keep in mind that they usually require as many as 8 or more pins to connect to the power supply. Standard range cards tend to require around 6 pins.

You can also purchase adaptors in the event your PSU doesn’t have any PCI Express connectors.

Power and Size

Once you’re sure that your graphics card can attach to your motherboard, you’ll also need to double check the power and size requirements.

Firstly, your graphics card is going to require a lot of power to give you the best results. To make sure it gets everything it needs, ensure that your power supply has a higher wattage than the minimum amount your card requires. The same applies for your power supply’s 12v rail – it should always have a higher rating than the lowest amount your card requires. This way, your card is more likely to have the right power supply for its needs.

You’ll also need to ensure that your graphics card can fit properly into your case. Most standard cases shouldn’t have a problem, but it’s always best to double check before you make an investment. If you’re choosing a high power card, keep in mind that they often have built in fans, which can make them much larger than more standard models.

The best way to make certain that you have enough space is to find the maximum card clearance space your case allows, and check that the length and width of your chosen card fit comfortably within those measurements. It’s always best to have some extra space just in case.

As always, if you’re unsure, you can usually find these details in your product information guide, or by contacting your manufacturer directly.