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How you know graphics card is compatible with your PC

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Installing a new graphics card on a PC is a simple priority until you encounter socket or connector incompatibilities. This is the hardest part, ensuring that your new card is compatible with your computer.

Many PCs have integrated graphics settings, so that their performance depends on the motherboard chip built into the CPU. At other times, it is a dedicated graphics card, which connects to an expansion slot on the motherboard itself.

cyberpowerpc pc interior

As a general rule, you can determine which type of card a PC uses based on the location of the port used to connect the monitor. If it’s located between a motherboard port like USB and Ethernet, then it’s all about integrated graphics.

christian wiediger TErYPw4o1KM unsplash It is possible to guess what graphics card your computer has and other components such as the CPU, RAM or hard drive.

If, on the other hand, the connection port is separate from the others and there is more than one connector, such as a pair of DVI, HDMI or DisplayPort outputs, it is probably a dedicated graphics card.

Whatever the type, you will need an expansion slot called PCI Express, and another associated to the power of the same that is obtained from the power supply of the computer.

Either way, acquiring a graphics card can give your PC more performance in the graphics area, freeing the CPU from tedious tasks and allowing you to run larger games. 

How to tell if a graphics card is compatible: locate the PCI Express slot

In most PC computers you can find various types of expansion slots on the motherboard. Typically they will all be PCI Express, but a graphics card will need a 16x PCI Express slot.

There are three versions of this type of slot, which are backward compatible, so a modern PCI Express 3.0 graphics card will work on a motherboard with a PCI Express 16x 2.0 slot.

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The motherboard in the image has two PCI Express X16 slots. For the graphics card it is more common to use the one above, but if you have two units in parallel in Nvidia SLI mode or AMD Crossfire, you will need both slots.

Before investing in a pair of these types of cards, check which standard your computer’s motherboard supports, as their price is not cheap at all. We also explain.

How to know if a graphics card is compatible: length and height

The most powerful graphics cards have a high amount of ventilation system to keep them cool, making them larger. The fan sits atop the GPU, sometimes leaving an unusable slot.

Also, you have to measure the distance of another component from the backplane to prevent another card from blocking. Some graphics have their own chairs on the trailing edge for forcing lengths of 30 or 40 mm instead of being on the side.

If you are not sure about the dimensions of a card, ask the manufacturer, seller or forums to try to get the information by asking someone who already has it and who can confirm it before purchasing it. .

How to tell if a graphics card is compatible: power requirements

Even if you have a PCI Express 16x slot and plenty of space, you will still need plenty of power for most graphics cards. Your power supply is likely to have PCI-E type power connectors, with cables bundled together and tied together.

These connectors are usually black in color, marked as PCI-E and have six pins in such a 3×2 arrangement.

If your PSU power supply does not have such cables, you can purchase adapters that connect to standard four-pin or SATA connectors.

Be careful with graphics cards that require two PCI Express power connectors, as each must connect to a different 12-volt power supply rail.

cables pci e graficas

Lastly, make sure your power supply has enough space above what the existing components are needing to power your new graphics card.

Calculating it is not an easy task, but a good rule of three tells us that high-end graphics cards will require at least a minimum 600-watt power supply.

It is wrong to think that a PSU source can consistently generate its maximum power. So, always keep in mind that the sum of all your components does not exceed 80% of the use value indicated in the data sheet of your power supply.

Again, you can use online consultation or forums to determine how much power a specific graphics card needs for its operation.

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