Tech Tip: Which GPUs are Compatible with My PC?

Graphic cards allow you to play games at high resolutions, run machine learning algorithms, and even mine for cryptocurrency. Whatever your goal is, you need it to run seamlessly, smoothly, and hassle free. So how does one ensure that the GPU you buy will be 100% compatible with your motherboard? Scroll down, you’re in the right place for your answer.

1. Does your motherboard have a PCIe x 16 interface?

The first thing you need to do is make sure that you motherboard has an available PCIe x16 expansion slot. There are many versions of the PCI Express expansion slot. PCI Express 1.0, PCI Express 2.0, PCI Express 3.0, and PCI Express 4.0. All of them are backwards compatible. So if you have a PCI Express 1.0 card it will run on a PCI Express 3.0 slot and vice versa.

If you’re trying to set up multiple graphics cards, make sure you have enough PCIe x16 slots before you invest in the graphics cards.

2. The Size of Your GPU: Does it fit?

The second most important thing is for the GPU to fit in the case. Graphics cards usually come with their own cooling fans built in. It makes them thicker and bulkier. Also standard size graphics cards can be quite long, and it’s better to make sure existing components aren’t going to block the component from being installed.

Another word of advice is to make sure that you are working with a standard size tower. If you have a smaller tower you may want to invest in a graphics card with a smaller form factor.

The best way to confirm is the old fashioned way. Bust out a ruler and make sure the size will fit to avoid returns and exchanges.

3. Can you Power it Up?

Once you have confirmed that you have the PCIe x16 slots available and that the GPU will fit in your case, the third thing to check is if your power suppy has the right connectors.

Depending on your graphics card, you’re going to need a bigger power supply. For low end, affordable graphics cards you’ll need up to a 400 Watt Power Supply Unit (PSU). Most graphics cards will be fine with a 500 Watt PSU. If you’re working with a really high end graphics card or multiple graphics cards, we recommend using 700 Watt PSU or above.

Long story short, make sure that your PSU isn’t drawing 80% of it’s capacity continuously. Make sure to get a quality PSU that can supply the power you need. The last thing you want is your computer to explode

4. Other Problems

If you made it this far, you’re probably in the green.

  • Your motherboard has the PCIe x16 slots you need
  • The GPU will fit in the case just fine
  • You have a PSU that will support your GPU(s).

Most graphics cards installation experiences come with happy endings. Problems beyond this point are quite rare. Usually they entail that the system the GPU is going into is very old. Sometimes the motherboard or BIOS doesn’t support the graphics card. Other problems can be that the OS doesn’t recognize the graphics card because you’re running a dinosaur version of Windows or an alternate OS.

These are all outlier situations. If you have steps 1-3 locked down, then you should be good to go.

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