How to Build a Gaming PC

by turbolence1988dec 22nd, 2018

Graphics Card Installation

With everything else out of the way, your final step to complete your PC is to install any expansion-slot devices you’re planning to use. It’s time to connect your graphics card (GPU) and any other PCI or PCI-Express devices you’re planning to use. If your processor has integrated graphics, such as AMD’s Vega or Intel’s HD Graphics, installing a dedicated graphics card is optional. You can plug your monitor cable into a matching port on the rear I/O panel.

Your GPU can take up anywhere from 1 to 3 expansion slots. Unbox yours and have a look at its back panel to determine how many PCI slot covers you’ll need to remove. On most motherboards you’ll be plugging this into the PCI-Express x16 slot (the longest of the expansion slots) nearest to the CPU, if you have more than one. If your GPU’s motherboard connector is significantly shorter than the slot, you may have a PCI Express x4 or x1 GPU. If this is the case you can still insert the GPU into the x16 slot as these slots compatible downwards to a lower link speed.

Inside the case you’ll have screws holding each of the expansion slot covers in place. Unscrew and remove the first slot cover aligned slightly lower than the PCI Express slot itself, then remove the next one or two slots below it as needed for your graphics card. You can discard or store the slot covers, but keep the screws handy. Take your GPU with the cooler facing downward and guide it straight and level towards the PCI Express x16 slot, being mindful of any cables or case clearance necessary. Some GPUs may be too long for the case, at which point you may have to rearrange drive bays and fans to find the needed clearance, or exchange the card for a model with a shorter board worst-case.

As you guide your GPU into place, gently press the card against the rear expansion slot openings. You should see your rear monitor connectors line up with the exposed slots, and the wide tabs at the base of the GPU’s I/O shield should be aiming into a channel or slits in the motherboard tray between the motherboard and the expansion slot. With your card’s connectors resting in the middle of the PCI Express slot, gently but firmly press the card into the slot. You should hear and feel a retaining tab click into place as you press the card fully into position, and notches on the card’s I/O shield should rest about where the screws that held the slot covers in place were. Keeping a hand on the GPU to support it until it’s secured in place, replace the lowest slot cover screw and tighten until it supports the weight of the GPU. Repeat until all screws are back in place.

At this point the last step is to connect power to the GPU, if it requires it. If there are any 6-pin power connectors on the card, connect these now per the instructions in the “Power Supply Installation” section above. If there are none, your card is powered entirely by the PCI-Express slot and won’t need any separate connection to the PSU at all.