How to Check if a Graphic Card Is Compatible

By Clifton Watson

It is important to make sure a new piece of hardware is compatible with your computer. In the case of video cards, this compatibility comes down to the type of connection required by the card and the available slots on your PC's motherboard. If you purchase a card that doesn't fit onto your motherboard, you will be unable to use it. Video cards state what kind of slot they use on their packaging, so make sure the kind you are getting will fit inside your system.

Step 1

Turn off your computer and unplug the cord from the back of the power supply.

Step 2

Lay your computer on a flat surface and open the case.

Step 3

Look at the available hardware slots on your motherboard. These will be arranged stacked in a row somewhere on your motherboard. You probably have hardware like a modem, a sound card or even an existing video card already plugged in.

Step 4

Inspect the available slots or the slot already occupied by a video card. Orient yourself so you are looking at the motherboard from the front so the slots ascend toward the top of the computer. There should be a few "PCI" slots. These are comprised of a long indent to the left of a smaller indent. This is where the tabs on the card plug into the slot. Above these "PCI" slots will most likely be a different kind of slot that is colored differently. An "AGP" slot is typically dark grey or black. It is oriented similar to the "PCI" but the smaller indent on the right side is larger. On newer motherboards, there may a "PCI-Express" slot that looks similar to a "PCI" slot except it is typically black or grey and the smaller indent is on the left side. These slots might even be labeled depending on the manufacturer and model of your motherboard.

Step 5

Compare the slot used by the graphics card you are looking to purchase to the available slots on your PC. If it is a match, it is compatible with your system.