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|Nvidia||GeForce GTX 1080 SLI||1607MHz||16GB GDDR5X||360W||
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How to Test Motherboard Compatibility with New Graphics Card
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Last updated on
Jul 6, 2023
If you want to upgrade your PC with a new graphics card, you need to make sure that your motherboard is compatible with it. Otherwise, you might face performance issues, errors, or even damage your hardware. In this article, we will show you how to test a motherboard for compatibility with a new graphics card in six easy steps.
Check the specifications
Before installing a new graphics card, you must first check the specifications of your motherboard and graphics card. These can be found on the manufacturer’s website, the product manual, or the packaging. Specifically, make sure that the expansion slot on the motherboard matches the interface of the graphics card (usually PCI Express or PCIe). Additionally, ensure that the power supply requirements of the graphics card do not exceed your power supply unit (PSU). Finally, check that the physical dimensions of the graphics card fit in your PC case and don’t block any other components or ports.
Update the BIOS
Updating the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) is necessary to support new graphics cards or fix compatibility issues. To do this, you need to download the latest BIOS version from the motherboard manufacturer’s website, ensuring it matches your exact model and revision. Instructions on how to flash the BIOS, usually by using a USB flash drive or a CD-ROM, should be followed. After restarting your PC and entering the BIOS setup menu, check that the BIOS version is updated and that the settings are correct.
Install the graphics card
The next step is to install the graphics card on the motherboard. To do this, you need to turn off your PC and unplug it from the power source, open the PC case and locate the expansion slot for the graphics card, remove any existing graphics card or cover plate from the slot (being careful not to damage any other components or wires), align the graphics card with the slot and gently push it in until it clicks, secure it with a screw or a latch, and connect the power cables from the PSU to the graphics card if needed (some graphics cards require one or more 6-pin or 8-pin connectors).
Install the drivers
To install the drivers for your graphics card, you need to connect your monitor to the graphics card output port and turn on your PC. Then, you can either insert the CD-ROM that came with the graphics card or download the latest drivers from the manufacturer’s website. After running the installation program and following the instructions, restart your PC to check that the graphics card is recognized and working properly. This can be verified through the Device Manager, Control Panel, or graphics card utility.
Test the performance
To test the performance of your graphics card, you can run a benchmark program such as 3DMark, FurMark, or Unigine Heaven to measure the speed and compare the results with other graphics cards or your previous one. Additionally, you can play a game that requires high graphics settings, like Call of Duty, Cyberpunk 2077, or Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and adjust the resolution, frame rate, and quality options to suit your preferences. Lastly, you should monitor the temperature, fan speed, and power consumption of your graphics card with a program like GPU-Z, MSI Afterburner, or HWMonitor to ensure they are within safe limits and not causing overheating or instability.
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Will the video card fit in the computer case — how to measure the gap
Depending on the size of your PC case, you can’t just go out and buy any video card. The smaller the housing used for assembly, the longer the list of restrictions and obstacles that you need to get around .
Video card gauging is a topic that most users don’t think about very often — until they are forced to.
Modern graphics cards vary greatly to appearance and size . Some of them have as many as three fans and a heatsink the size of a size 46 foot.
Others have only one fan on the front and are suitable for even the smallest cases. And there are even those that do not have fans at all!
This is actually a very good thing as it allows PC builders to find the right type of video card both in terms of aesthetics and and in terms of form factor.
Some people want the biggest and most powerful graphics card money can buy. Others prefer a more balanced approach and graphics cards that just do their job and look good enough for it.
With such a wide range of options to choose from, learning more about GPU clearance should definitely be at the top of your priority list — or you risk buying a graphics card that literally can’t fit in a PC case.
What does graphics card gap mean?
Basically, it’s kind of an «umbrella term» that covers the physical dimensions of your graphics card and how they fit into your PC case.
You just need to keep track of two things: is the length of the video card and its width is .
The first part is the easiest to understand because it is completely logical; you will not be able to connect a GPU that is longer than the case . Everything is so simple.
What’s more, inside the case, there are often things that can interfere with a video card that is too long. Drive cages, AIOs, and even poorly routed cables or water cooling tubes.
The second part, graphics card width/thickness, is a bit more layered and therefore harder to understand.
Graphics card width/thickness is most commonly referred to in one of two ways (or rather «units»): in millimeters or slots.
The first speaks for itself. The latter, however, refers to the number of PCIe slots that a particular graphics card will overlap and block.
Most common one-, two- and three-slot graphics cards . The
The former are the rarest of all (or rather the least popular ) as they can only deliver a low level of performance given their physical limitations (not to mention their meager cooling solutions).
Similarly, the and three-slot models are a little rare, although they are by no means «extinct» like the single-slot models. These designs are «reserved» for top tier models, which in turn means they are out of the reach of most users.
This leaves us with the most common of all: the dual-slot graphics card and its many variants and variations of the .
The last point is of paramount importance, and cannot be overestimated .
Some dual-slot graphics cards will take up no more than two slots — as the name suggests . The actual sizes of others can vary from 2.2 to 2.75 slots, and these differences are not always are emphasized in their specifications.
Graphics card thickness — always double check
Always check actual graphics card width/thickness in millimeters. The importance of this is difficult to describe sufficiently.
Just because a graphics card has 2. 5 slots does not mean it is the same thickness as all other 2.5 slot graphics cards.
For example, the reference AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT graphics card is 49.75 mm wide. ASUS RX 6600 Dual slims down to 47mm, and yet they both belong to the 2.5-slot graphics card category.
This subtle difference is of paramount importance and can certainly make a difference if you have a small ITX case with many physical limitations.
It only takes one moment of carelessness to end up with a graphics card that you can’t fit in your case.
These graphics cards are the most common, and although they all «eat» the same amount of space in your PC case, their nuances are not to mention their slightly different shrouds and heatsinks can make a huge difference in a build.
What’s more, some 2.7 and 2.75 models can take up a whopping three slots even if their nomenclature says otherwise, so just keep that in mind.
How to deal with all this? The answer, fortunately, is very simple.
How to Check the Video Card Gap in My PC Case
Doing a quick web search should be the first step on your list, and it should be long before you pull out your wallet and splurge on a new GPU.
Find the official datasheet for your case and then scroll down to the part related to graphics card authorization.
There you will find all the necessary information in writing — «black and white» and the most official .
To better illustrate this point, here is the official compatibility with the popular Cooler Master NR200P graphics cards. It supports graphics cards up to 330mm long, 156mm high and 60mm wide (up to three slot design) .
Now all you need is a graphics card that meets these limits and you’re done.
You can repeat this process as many times as you like and for as many ingredients as your heart desires.
Once completed, you’ll have all the information you need to make an informed buying decision, and you’ll have a graphics card that fits seamlessly into your PC case.
Most people really don’t care if it’s a two or three slot GPU (or something in between) as long as it fits easily into a PC case .
This simple process will eliminate any risk of using incompatible hardware.
Graphics card clearance and airflow are extremely important things
There are few really tiny PC cases out there these days, and it appears that the entire consumer market is moving towards smaller, compact cases whose tiny nature does not entail any or specific performance losses.
In other words: is the best of both worlds . You save a little space on your desk without sacrificing the all-important frame rate (or render time).
However, this «trend» brings with it many different limitations and problems for those building their own PCs.
Hardware compatibility is often an issue, and even if isn’t , you still need to set things up to give your components as much «air» as possible.
You don’t want your CPU or GPU to overheat and have their fans/coolers noisy like jet engines.
So just because you can fit, say, a 2.5-slot graphics card inside a case, doesn’t mean you should do that — unless there’s enough room for its axial fans to do their job .
On the other hand, blow-cooled graphics cards can be used in almost any ITX configurations without fear that they will overheat.
Frequently Asked Questions About Graphics Card Dimensions
Let’s look at a few questions you might have when it comes to graphics card dimensions:
What does graphics card clearance mean?
Graphics card gap is basically the amount of space your graphics card needs to fit inside your case.
Modern video cards vary greatly in length and width, so always be sure to read (if not literally measure) before you take out your wallet and make an investment!
Do all graphics cards fit all PC cases?
No, they may not be compatible at all . It is extremely important to understand the physical limits and limitations of your PC case before you go out and buy any graphics card.
If you have an ITX — or even mATX — case, it would be wise to roll up your sleeves and do some research on the Internet. Fortunately, the process itself is as simple and easy as it gets!
Are three fans required on a graphics card?
The answer to this question varies from one model to another.
Graphics cards such as, say, the RTX 3060 (in other words, a mid-range graphics card) don’t really need a setup with three fans, as they will never run as powerfully.
They can be cooled with just one fan.
However, if you’re planning on using a top-notch graphics card — something like the RTX 3090 or RX 6900 XT — it’s better to have more fans . Not only will they keep your GPU cool, but they will also result in less fan noise.
How thick can a graphics card be?
The ASUS GeForce RTX 3080 Noctua Edition is one of the thickest graphics cards money can buy in 2022. It features a 4.3-slot cooler that, when converted to metric, is a whopping 87.5 millimeters.
ZOTAC RTX 3090 Ti is a little less intimidating, but no less comical — 73 millimeters (3.6 slots). A support bracket is included to prevent this behemoth from sagging. It goes without saying that you should only consider these graphics cards if you have a large enough case to accommodate them.
Do you need a large PC case for a powerful graphics card?
No, but you must use a little common sense and common sense. Just because the case can fit a powerful GPU on the doesn’t mean that the needs the .
It all depends on the graphics card you choose and, of course, on the chassis you plan to use.
«Regular» ITX cases — not too big and not too small (13-20 liters) — can handle even the most power-hungry GPUs, so there’s nothing to worry about.
How to find out which video card is installed in a computer or laptop
Learn more about how to find out which graphics card in Windows 10, 8, and Windows 7, and when your computer won’t boot (plus a related video at the end of the guide) in this guide. Not all users know how to do this, and when faced with the fact that the Windows Device Manager says Video Controller (VGA-compatible) or Standard VGA graphics adapter, they don’t know where to download drivers for it and what exactly needs to be installed. And games and programs that use graphics do not work without the right drivers. See also: How to find out the motherboard or processor socket.
How to find out the model of a video card using the Windows Device Manager
The first thing to try to see which video card is on your computer is to go to the device manager and check the information there.
The fastest way to do this in Windows 10, 8, Windows 7 and Windows XP is to press the Win + R keys (where Win is the OS logo key) and enter the command devmgmt.msc . Another option is to right-click on «My Computer», select «Properties» and launch Device Manager from the «Hardware» tab.
In Windows 10, Device Manager is also available in the context menu of the Start button.
Most likely, in the list of devices you will see the section «Display adapters», and opening it — the model of your video card. As I already wrote, even if the video adapter was determined correctly after reinstalling Windows, for its full operation, you should still install official drivers instead of those provided by Microsoft.
However, another option is also possible: the display adapters tab will display «Standard VGA graphics adapter», or, in the case of Windows XP, «Video controller (VGA-compatible)» in the «Other devices» list. This means that the video card has not been detected and Windows does not know which drivers to use for it. You’ll have to find out for yourself.
Find out which video card using Device ID (hardware identifier)
The first method, which most often works, is to determine the installed video card using the hardware ID.
In Device Manager, right-click on the unknown VGA video adapter and select «Properties». After that, go to the «Details» tab, and in the «Property» field, select «Hardware ID».
After that, copy any of the values to the clipboard (right-click and select the appropriate menu item), the key values for us are the values of the two parameters in the first part of the identifier — VEN and DEV, which indicate, respectively, the manufacturer and the device itself.
After that, the easiest way to determine what kind of video card model it is is to go to the website http://devid.info/ru and enter VEN and DEV from the device ID in the top field.
As a result, you will receive information about the video adapter itself, as well as the ability to download drivers for it. However, I recommend downloading drivers from the official website of NVIDIA, AMD or Intel, especially since now you know what video card you have.
How to find out the model of the video card if the computer or laptop does not turn on
One of the possible options is the need to determine which video card is on a computer or laptop that does not show signs of life. In this situation, all that can be done (except for the option of installing a video card in another computer) is to study the markings or, in the case of an integrated video adapter, study the processor specifications.
Desktop graphics cards usually have sticker labels on the «flat» side to identify which chip is used on the card. If there is no clear marking, as in the photo below, then the manufacturer’s model identifier may also be present there, which can be entered in an Internet search and, most likely, the first results will contain information about what kind of video card it is.
The easiest way to find out what video card is installed in your laptop, provided that it does not turn on, is to search the specifications of your laptop model on the Internet, they should contain such information.
If we are talking about identifying a laptop video card by marking, it is more difficult: it can only be viewed on a graphics chip, and to get to it, you will need to remove the cooling system and remove the thermal paste (which I do not recommend for anyone who is not sure about that can do it). On the chip you will see markings like in the photo.
If you search the Internet for the ID that is marked in the photos, the first results will tell you what kind of video chip it is, as in the following screenshot.
Note: the same markings are on the chips of desktop video cards, and you will also have to “get to them” by removing the cooling system.
For integrated graphics (integrated video card) everything is simpler — just find the specifications of your processor model of your computer or laptop on the Internet, the information, among other things, will include information about the integrated graphics used (see screenshot below).
Video device detection using AIDA64 program
Note: this is far from the only program that allows you to see which video card is installed, there are others, including free ones: Better programs to find out the characteristics of a computer or laptop.
Another good way to get complete information about your computer hardware is to use the AIDA64 program (which replaced the previously popular Everest). With this program, you can not only learn about your video card, but also about many other hardware characteristics of your computer and laptop. Despite the fact that AIDA64 deserves a separate review, here we will talk about it only in the context of this manual. You can download AIDA64 for free on the developer’s website http://www.aida64.com.
The program, in general, is paid, but 30 days (though with some restrictions) works fine and in order to determine the video card, the trial version is quite enough.
After starting, open the «Computer» section, then «Summary Information», and find the «Display» item in the list. There you can see the model of your video card.
Additional ways to find out which video card using Windows
In addition to the methods already described, Windows 10, 8, and Windows 7 have additional system tools that allow you to get information about the model and manufacturer of the video card, which may be useful in some cases (for example, if access to device manager has been blocked by the administrator).
Viewing graphics card information in the DirectX Diagnostic Tool (dxdiag)
All modern versions of Windows have some version of the DirectX components that are designed to work with graphics and sound in programs and games.
These components include a diagnostic tool (dxdiag.exe) that allows you to find out which video card is installed on your computer or laptop. To use the tool, follow these simple steps:
- Press the Win+R keys on your keyboard and type dxdiag into the Run box.
- After downloading the diagnostic tool, click the Display tab.
The specified tab will show the model of the video card (or, more precisely, the graphics chip used on it), information about drivers and video memory (in my case, for some reason it is displayed incorrectly). Note: This tool also allows you to find out which version of DirectX you are using. Read more in the DirectX 12 for Windows 10 article (relevant for other OS versions as well).
Using the System Information tool
Another Windows utility that allows you to get information about your video card is System Information. It starts in a similar way: press the Win + R keys and type msinfo32.
In the system information window, navigate to Components — Display, where the Name field will display which video adapter is used in your system.
Note: msinfo32 does not display graphics card memory correctly if it is over 2 GB. This is a Microsoft confirmed issue.
How to find out which video card is installed — video
And finally — a video instruction that shows all the main ways to find out the model of a video card or an integrated graphics adapter.
There are other ways to detect your video adapter: for example, when automatically installing drivers using Driver Pack Solution, the video card is also detected, although I do not recommend this method.