How to Replace the Graphics Card in a Laptop

By Brandon Wood

Your graphics card will allow (or prevent) you from running games, and graphic intensive programs. Most laptops come with a simple graphics card that are integrated into the motherboard. Some of the newer models have video cards that can be removed and upgraded, like a desktop PC. Not all laptops can be upgraded, especially the older models. It only takes a few minutes to find out whether your laptop can be upgraded, and if so, what you have to do to upgrade it.

Step 1

Check what type of graphics card you have. Under the start menu, click on "Control Panel." In Windows 7 and Vista, click on "Appearance and Personalization." Click to "Adjust the screen resolution" this will bring up a menu called "Display Settings." Click on "Advanced Settings."

Step 2

Write down the information for your video card. In the advanced settings menu, your computer will display the name of your video card, the speed, and the dedicated video memory.

Step 3

Identify your video card. ATI and NVidia, the two most popular brands of video cards, both have websites where you can identify more information about your graphics card. Once you identify your graphics card, it will say if it's an integrated, or a dedicated video card. Dedicated cards can often be upgraded, while integrated cards (attached to the motherboard) often cannot. If have trouble identifying the type of video card, you can get in contact with the manufacturer for more details.

Step 4

Browse manufacturer upgrades for your laptop. If the company that made your laptop has laptop video cards for sale, there's a good chance you can find one to fit in your laptop. It may not be a bad idea to shop around for what type of card you want.

Step 5

Go to your local computer store. Bring the specs for your video card. Your local computer store will know if your laptop video card can be updated, and if so, what models can replace it. You should buy a video card from a computer store with a flexible return policy, because even though video cards say they're compatible, they sometimes aren't.

Step 6

Remove the back to your laptop. Several access panels housing the RAM, and hard drive will need to be removed. These plastic coverings can easily be removed once you undo the screws holding them in place.

Step 7

Remove the remaining screws in your laptop. Your laptop may have many screws that need to be removed, for example, the HP Pavilion has upwards of 10.

Step 8

Remove the back to your computer, and locate the graphics card. The graphics card will be the largest card other than the motherboard. Once you find the graphics card, you can unmount it (by unscrewing it) and unplug it from the motherboard.

Tips & Warnings

  • It's best to let professionals install the new graphics gard in your laptop. It is an extremely technical and challenging task that is beyond the ability of most average computer users.