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How to Upgrade Your PC's Graphics Card

Almost every motherboard has integrated video circuitry, and some high-end motherboards even have high-performance integrated video, but that's usually not sufficient for today's power 3D game enthusiast. They always replace the on-board video circuitry with the latest high-performance video graphics card.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460
Core Clock: 650 MHz
Memory Type:GDDR5
Memory Interface:256-bit
Video Memory:1GB
Memory Clock:3400 MHz

One of the main features of a graphics card is its graphics processing unit (GPU). The GPU is a custom graphics CPU optimized for accelerating graphics which offloads all the graphics tasks from the motherboard's CPU.

The main attributes of the GPU are the clock frequency, which typically ranges from 250 MHz to 4 GHz and the number of pipelines (vertex and fragment shaders), which translate a 3D image into a 2D image formed by pixels. Most graphics cards use NVIDI GPUs. NVIDIA invented the GPU in 1999, and today all NVIDIA cards can support up to 3 GPUs.

Another important attributes of a video graphics card is the amount of memory housed on the card. The memory capacity of most modern video cards ranges from 128 MB to 4 GB. Since video memory needs to be accessed by the GPU and the display circuitry, it uses special high-speed or memory. GDDR5 (Graphics Double Data Rate, version 5) is a type of high bandwidth memory which has double the data lines and 8-bit wide prefetch buffers.

Installing the Graphics Card

1. Before you buy a video graphics card, check your motherboard's expansion card slots. There are three types of card slots currently available: PCI, AGP, and PCI Express (PCIe 2.0 is compatible with PCIe slot). Make sure you purchase the correct card slot type.

2. Make sure that your computer's power supply can handle the extra power requirement of a high-performance video graphics card. Compare the power consumption of the new video card with your existing card. You may need to upgrade to a beefier power supply before you can install a new high-performance video graphics card.

3. Newer video cards are quite large. Make sure your computer's case has enough room for the new card. Get the new cards dimensions from the vendor's or manufacturer's web site.

4. Disable your old video card and enable your motherboard's on board video graphics. You usually need to do this in your computer's BIOS screen. Then reboot your computer to make sure the video is working.

5. Uninstall your old graphics card. Make sure you have made provisions to protect from static discharge when working inside the case. For example, use a grounded antistatic strap.

6. Uninstall your old video graphic card's drivers. This is usually done in Device Manager.

7. Download the latest drivers for the new video graphic card from the manufacturer's web site. The drivers packaged with the card are rarely the latest.

8. Install the new graphics card. Make sure the card and the connectors are fully seated.

9. When you reboot your computer, Plug-and-Play will announce that it has found a new device and will request the location of its drivers. Provide the location of the drivers that you have downloaded.


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