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How To Vertical Mount Your GPU [Explained]

Vertically mounting your GPU properly can improve its aesthetics and airflow. Read on to learn the pitfalls and solutions for vertical GPU mounting.

Vertically mounting your GPU has become a growing trend in recent years. It is done for several reasons, chief among them being great aesthetics. However, there are a few pitfalls you need to watch out for before you attempt to vertical mount your GPU, as you can damage the component otherwise.

Key Takeaways

  • Mounting graphics cards vertically can be done for a few reasons, the most prominent being to make the PC look more stylish.
  • Most cases and motherboards, especially older ones, are not designed for vertically mounted GPUs. So hardware compatibility needs to always be kept in mind.
  • Vertically mounting the GPU can be done in a few different ways, with the simplest being to use an aftermarket vertical GPU mount bracket that is compatible with your case and mount the GPU into it.

Difference Between Horizontal And Vertical Mounting

Traditionally, graphics cards are mounted horizontally in a computer case. This orientation allows for easy installation, maintenance, and access to ports. However, the graphics card’s orientation can affect the system’s cooling performance. 

When mounted horizontally, the graphics card’s fan will face downwards, causing hot air to accumulate around the GPU. This can lead to higher temperatures, affecting the graphics card’s performance and lifespan and even causing issues such as GPU artifacting. Speaking about cooling, make sure to check out how to lower GPU temperature. We also recommend you water-cool your GPU if you’re constantly facing high temps. 

MSI RTX 3090 GPU clearance in CPU case
Example of a horizontally mounted GPU. Image Credits [Tech4Gamers]
On the other hand, vertical mounting of the GPU can improve airflow and cooling in the system. When mounted vertically, the graphics card’s fan faces toward the side of the case. This orientation allows for better airflow and can help dissipate the heat generated by the graphics card more efficiently.

Plus, vertical mounting can make your PC build look more visually appealing, especially if the GPU has RGB lighting, allowing it to be more prominently displayed.

Vertically Mounted GPU
Example Of A Vertically Mounted GPU – Image Credits [GPU Mag]
Another significant benefit these days is that with modern GPUs getting so power-hungry, they require more extensive and larger heatsinks and more fans to keep them cool for optimal performance.

This increases the weight of the GPU significantly, and it’s getting to the point that the graphics cards can start to sag in the PCIe slot, potentially one day simply ripping out of the slot due to their sheer weight, damaging both the graphics card and the motherboard. With a vertical mount, the problem of GPU sag becomes virtually non-existent.

Sagging GPU
Horizontally Mounted GPU Sagging Downwards – Image Credits [LinusTechTips Forum]
One major thing to remember is that with a vertically mounted GPU, the graphics card fans are facing the side of the PC case. If there is very little distance between the fans and the case, especially if the case is made of glass with no airflow, this can restrict airflow and cause the GPU to run hotter and decrease performance.

So your case and panel type are critical in determining whether or not you should vertically mount your GPU. Before proceeding further, make sure to check out best GPU overclocking software in case you want to boost its performance. However, keep in mind that overclocking can damage the GPU and reduce its lifespan. If you face any issues with the process, we have a guide on how to underclock the GPU.  

Different Ways To Vertical Mount GPU

There are different ways to vertical mount a GPU, and your chosen method will depend on your case and personal preferences. Here are some of the ways to mount your graphics card vertically.

Vertical GPU Mounting Bracket

Many aftermarket GPU mounting brackets are available that you can buy and screw into your case, which allows you to install the graphics card in a vertical position. The bracket fits into the expansion slot backplate of the PC case.

GPU Mounting Bracket
Vertical GPU Mounting Bracket – Image Credits [Lian-Li]
Before buying a bracket, you must first make sure that the bracket is compatible with your particular case by going through the product listing or the manufacturer’s website. For example, many of these brackets can take up as many as seven expansion slots. If your PC does not have that many slots, then the bracket is incompatible with your case.

This method does not require any additional space in the case and can look very aesthetically pleasing. But compatibility between bracket and case is critical to making this work. Once the mounting bracket is in place and the GPU is attached to it, a PCIe riser cable attached to the bracket is then inserted into the PCIe slot of the motherboard.

GPU In GPU Mounting Bracket
GPU Inserted In Vertical Mount Bracket – Image Credits [NZXT]

Custom Bracket

If your case does not come with a vertical GPU mounting bracket, you can make a custom bracket using materials like aluminum or acrylic. This method requires some DIY skills and tools, but it can be a great option if you want to save money and have a unique look for your build. Also, make sure to check out how to fix the ‘this effect requires GPU acceleration’ error

PCIe Riser Cable

A PCIe riser cable is the most necessary component for vertical mounting the GPU. This cable allows you to install the graphics card in any position, away from the motherboard. If you don’t want to or can’t use a vertical GPU mounting bracket, you can simply use the riser cable alone to connect the GPU to the motherboard’s PCIe slot and then place the graphics card elsewhere.

The GPU can be placed on top of the case or, more commonly, behind the motherboard at the back of the case. If that is how you choose to go, you will require substantial additional space between the motherboard and the case, enough for the GPU to fit physically.

This type of modification allows you to build a very custom solution for your needs and tastes. Still, it also means that there are very few aftermarket parts to help you with this process or a wide variety of case designs compatible with this approach.

SFF PC With Riser Cable Leading To Behind The Motherboard
Specialized Small Form Factor PC Case With Riser Cable Positioned Behind The Motherboard – Image Credits [Jonsplus]
You will need to either drill with a machine, 3D print your parts, or use clips and cable ties to hold your GPU in place, which can have the danger of failing to hold it in place more quickly if you’re not very careful. Also, as you will need to take out the component, ensure you learn how to safely remove GPU from the motherboard

How To Vertical Mount A GPU 

Now that you know the different ways to mount your graphics card vertically, here are the steps to follow to mount your graphics card vertically with a mounting bracket:

  1. Take off as many expansion slot backplates on the PC case as the vertical GPU bracket requires. These slots are usually held in place with either screws or clips.
  2. Install the bracket into the case’s expansion slots. Secure the bracket using the included screws or clips.
  3. Once the bracket is installed, you can mount the graphics card. Simply press the GPU into the slot on the bracket. Be careful not to push too hard, as you may damage the slot or the bracket. If the bracket is not touching the bottom of the case, you can support it with your hand while placing the GPU to alleviate some of the force.
  4. Connect the PCIe riser cable from the bracket to the motherboard’s top x16 PCIe slot.
  5. Connect the one or multiple 6-pin or 8-pin power cables to the graphics card as you would with a horizontally mounted GPU.
  6. Once the graphics card is mounted and all cables are connected, test the system to ensure everything works correctly. Check the temperatures and performance of the graphics card to ensure there are no issues.

If you are only using a riser cable, then first make sure the length of the cable is appropriate. It should be long enough to easily reach the location you wish to mount your GPU without pulling on the PCIe slot on the motherboard.

 Different Sized PCIe Riser Cables
PCIe Riser Cables Of Different Lengths – Image Credits [Hirigin]

Problems With Mounting GPU Vertically

One common question many people ask is whether the GPU’s vertical mounting is terrible for performance. The answer to this question is no. Vertical mounting of the GPU does not affect the graphics card’s performance.

As mentioned earlier, as long as case and side panel suitability are carefully considered, it can improve the system’s cooling performance, which can, in turn, improve the graphics card’s performance.

It is thus very important to know that not all cases support vertical mounting of the GPU, and it is essential to check your case’s specifications before attempting vertical mounting. Additionally, some GPUs are not designed to be mounted vertically.

These graphics cards come with a backplate that only supports horizontal mounting. If you have such a graphics card, then you should either not attempt to mount it vertically or remove the backplate entirely.

This can be easy in some cases, but in other cases, you may need to disassemble the entire GPU or even use specialized tools, so make sure to look for guides on your specific GPU model before attempting this.

In addition, the heatsink or hard drive bay within your PC case may not leave enough room for the graphics card to be vertically mounted, depending on the height of the GPU in the vertical position.

The biggest dealbreaker of a vertically mounted GPU is that it gobbles up and covers up every single of your remaining PCIe slots, meaning you won’t be able to attach any additional network cards, for instance. This can, be avoided if you use a PCIe riser cable to position your graphics card somewhere else, for example, somewhere behind your motherboard.

Final Thoughts

Vertical GPU mounting is increasingly popular due to aesthetic and thermal reasons. However, it is essential to check your case’s specifications and your graphics card’s compatibility with vertical mounting before you attempt it. You can vertically mount a GPU using a PCIe riser cable, a vertical GPU mounting bracket, or a custom bracket. Follow the steps outlined in this article to safely and effectively mount your graphics card vertically and enjoy your stylish, refreshed PC! Make sure to check out if a motherboard can bottleneck your GPU before you leave. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does vertically mounting a GPU effect performance?

No, vertically mounted GPUs don’t perform worse than typically mounted GPUs. They can even perform better because of greater airflow. However, a case with a solid side panel, with little room between the GPU and the panel can greatly impede airflow, raising GPU temps and causing thermal throttling. The use of a PCIe riser cable to connect the GPU to the motherboard also doesn’t negatively affect performance.

Can any GPU be mounted vertically?

You need to have enough vertical space inside the case for the GPU. The PC expansion slot backplate has to accommodate the vertical mount bracket if that is being used to mount the graphics card vertically. If the GPU has a backplate that can only be mounted horizontally, it must be removed.

Does a vertically mounting graphics card eliminate GPU sag completely?

Vertically mounting a GPU eliminates GPU sag by a significant degree as long as the vertical mount bracket is not cheap and flimsy. This is especially true if it is not touching the PC case and is lifted in the air. This leads to a stretch on the attached PCIe riser cable. A stretched cable can pull on the PCIe slot and cause the same sagging effect.

Can I vertically mount a liquid-cooled GPU?

Yes, a liquid-cooled GPU can be mounted vertically in the same way as a regular GPU.

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Wajih Hyder Chohan
Wajih Hyder Chohan
I am Wajih Hyder Chohan - a PC Hardware Nerd who always analyzes the latest products and reviews them. Usually, people call me boring, but I can't limit my love for Hardware!


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