Replacement Laptop Graphics Card is a complicated topic. So, hold your horses before thinking of buying an external graphics card for your laptop.
Usually, people tend to buy external GPU s for their laptops to give it a graphical boost. As technology advances the need for graphical power increases. You need a new and better GPU to keep pace with modern technology.
But, suppose you have a laptop that has a decent CPU and RAM but lacks in graphical capability. You are wondering if you should buy an external graphics card as buying a new laptop just for a graphical boost seems very foolish on the surface.
Upgrading your laptop GPU is not as simple as you might think. There is a lot to know before this graphical upgrade.
Basic knowledge about Replacement Laptop Graphics Card
The first thing that you have to know before buying a graphics card for your laptop is whether your laptop supports graphics card replacement or not.
How can you do that? First, you have to find the device model number of your laptop. To find that follow these instructions.
- Search for System Information in the search bar and click the top result to open the app.
- Click on System Summary.
- Search for “System Model” field, you can find the model number of your device there.
Now you know the model number of your laptop. The easiest way to inquire if your laptop supports graphics card swap or not is to look it up on Google using your laptop model number. It is good news if your laptop does support an external graphics card swap. It is usually referred to as the MXM(Mobile PCIe Express Module) card. Now all you have to do is find a suitable graphics card for your laptop.
Things to consider before buying a laptop Graphics Card
There are a few things to consider before buying a laptop graphics card.
- You will need to find out whether or not the graphics you want to buy will fit inside your laptop. As laptops are very compact and usually do not have much space inside the chassis. The more powerful the graphics card, the more likely it is for it to take up more space.
- The graphics card that you want to buy might suffer from heating issues. The beefier a graphics card is the more amount of heat it will produce. Internal cooling systems are not built to deal with this type of heating. The unavailability of space also contributes to this as well.
- You have to ensure that your desired graphics card fits the cooler or heat pipes in terms of spacing.
- You have to take your laptop apart to replace the graphics card which is no easy feat. It will also void your product warranty by doing so.
- The availability of working drivers. A graphics card is useless without its driver.
- To buy a graphics card for your laptop you have to find it first as it is very unlikely that you will find it in any physical store. Your best options are online marketplaces.
- As laptop graphics cards are very rare they are usually very overpriced and your options are very limited as well. So, be prepared to pay a hefty amount when buying a laptop graphics card.
- You also have to check if your desired graphics card is compatible with your CPU or will it bottleneck. A bottleneck is when a component cannot perform to its full power due to the inefficiency of another component.
Considering everything is in place and you have found and bought your desired graphics card, now it is time to attach it with your motherboard. Here is how you can do it.
How to replace graphics card in laptop?
Here is a step by step guide on how to replace graphics card in laptop.
- Remove your laptop battery and remove the keyboard from the front and remove the optical drive from the back by removing all the screw holding the chassis together. Then remove the palm rest, track-pad assembly, display, and display power connector and the fans. After that remove the CPU heat sink to get to the GPU or graphics card heat sink and remove it as well. This will give you access to your GPU
- Remove the screws on the card and gently take it out from the slot. After the removal of the old GPU now it is time to insert the new one. To insert it, simply take the GPU and slide it into the slot where the old GPU was. Make sure that the graphics card is facing the PCIe slot. After inserting the new GPU apply some thermal paste on the chip.
- The graphics card is now set. All that is left to do is to undo all the things you just did. After screwing everything together find the correct driver for your GPU online and install it. Now it is time to check if the graphics card is working properly or not.
What if a Replacement Laptop Graphics Card isn’t for you?
It is very likely for your laptop to not support an external graphics card as very few laptops do so. Most of the laptops usually have graphics cards attached to their motherboard. If that’s true for your laptop, that means you cannot attach an external graphics unit with your laptop motherboard.
Do not get discouraged yet. There is still hope. Recently some manufacturers like Razer, MSI, ASUS, and Alienware have come up with a solution to this problem. It is called an External GPU Enclosure. What it does is allow you to connect a full-fledged desktop GPU with your laptop via Thunderbolt 3 port. But your laptop needs to have a Thunderbolt 3 port for this to work. Most modern laptops nowadays are usually equipped with a Thunderbolt 3 port.
How to replace graphics card in laptop if external GPU is not supported?
If your laptop has a Thunderbolt 3 port then the rest of the procedures are very simple but a bit costly. Because you have to buy the External GPU Enclosure as well as the actual GPU separately. The Enclosure will cost you around $250 and a decent GPU will cost about the same.
Follow these steps to attach an External GPU to your laptop.
- Connect the External GPU Enclosure to your laptop via Thunderbolt 3 port.
- Connect the GPU to the External GPU Enclosure and plug in the power connector to the GPU ( if it is required)
- Install all the necessary drivers for both the Enclosure and the GPU.
So, if you think that you are up for it and don’t mind spending the extra buck for the graphical boost simply buy an External GPU Enclosure along with your desired graphics card, connect it with your laptop and you are good to go.