Installing a graphics card can be a quick and painless process, though there are some things that should be kept in mind. Not all cards and motherboards are compatible, so it is a good idea to verify that the existing board has the necessary expansion slot. Another potential concern when installing a graphics card is power, so it is important to verify that the existing power supply unit (PSU) can handle the new requirements. Graphics cards and other components can be vulnerable to static electricity, so it is also wise to use a ground strap during installation.
Some of the most important factors to consider when installing a graphics card can be dealt with before making a purchase. Examining the existing motherboard can reveal what type of expansion slots are available and what kind of cards will be compatible. While the computer is opened up, it is also a good idea to take a look at the wattage rating of the power supply unit. When the power needs of all the components in the computer are added up, their potential draw should be less than the rating on the PSU. If a high powered card is being installed in a stock system, a new PSU may be needed as well.
Any time a computer is opened up, components could be potentially damaged by static electricity or other means. Installing a graphics card can result in damage to a variety of other components if care is not taken. One way to avoid static electricity is a ground strap. These straps typically take the form of a grounded wristband, and can prevent static electricity from building up. If no ground strap is available, simply touching the metal computer case, a power cord, or the a kitchen faucet may help draw off any static electricity.
Another thing to consider when installing a graphics card is where it is placed. If several expansion slots are available, it may be a good idea to position the card as far away from the motherboard and any other devices as possible. Graphics cards can become quite hot during use, so any extra air flow between them and other components can help avoid damage.
When the computer case is opened up for installing a graphics card, it might also be a good idea to do a little cleanup. A significant amount of dust may gather inside the PSU fan, the central processing unit (CPU) heat sink, and other locations during normal use. Blowing out or vacuuming up this dust at the same time a new graphics card is installed may result in noticeable performance boosts and longer lasting components.