The graphic card is an essential component of PC and laptop, as it provides better display and picture output. It is a plug-in device that enhances the available display features. It connects to the motherboard via PCI/AGP slots. Without adding an external graphic card, the system would utilize the inbuilt video display drivers for display optimization.
Purpose of Graphic cards
The basic and primary function of a graphics card is to obtain video information from laptop processor and convert them into electronic signals. The monitor, in turn, receives them and decodes it into quality pictures that can be displayed. The minimum configuration of graphic card required for any laptop is usually built into the motherboard. However, this can provide just the basic display features.
The graphic cards come with their own set of memory called VRAM. The card utilizes this for handling video information. This reduces the utilization of laptop’s RAM and hence enables the machine to perform faster.
Adding graphics card to your laptop
The chances of requiring a graphic card upgrade for your laptop is pretty slim these days. The reason is obvious. The majority of today’s laptops come equipped with GPU [Graphical processing Unit]. The GPU is attached to the laptop motherboard, so upgrading a graphic card would mean replacing the entire motherboard. It’s as good as buying a new laptop.
The viable alternative would be to include external graphic card through the USB port. However, this cannot be used for gaming purposes which require extreme quality graphics. By plugging in an external graphic card through USB port, one can make use of either built in screen or an external display like monitor or HDMI.
The possibility to upgrade the graphic card in a laptop also depends on the brand and model of the laptop in question. Certain laptop models provide the updating option. However, majority of laptop devices in the market are NOT upgradable.
Since it is not always possible to update the graphic card once the laptop is purchased, one must exercise caution in selecting the proper GPU configuration while deciding on the laptop. The specifications required would depend on four deciding factors. They are:
- RAM of the laptop
- Required video clarity
- Gaming requirements
- 3D viewing necessities
The most important specifications to look for are:
- Supported resolution
- Video card memory
- Refresh rate in your favorite game with the graphic card
The actual upgrade
When the situation permits, if you can upgrade the graphic card of your laptop, here are the guiding steps to assist with the physical upgrade. First and foremost ensure that the new graphic card is provided by the laptop vendor or at least declared compatible with the laptop model. As per specifications mentioned, few BIOS level settings needs to be changed. Once BIOS settings are completed, the laptop can be unplugged and switched off. The next step would be the removal of the battery. Now, the four screws guarding the drive must be removed to gain access to the graphic card slot. Finally, slide the edge of new graphics card and push it into its slot. Replace the battery, screws and power on your laptop.