Can I Upgrade My Laptop Graphics Card? Use eGPU or Replace

Upgrading card is a standard operation performed by many laptop users. It is not difficult and can be successfully carried out on your own if you are careful when disassembling, installing, and assembling. Let discuss how to upgrade laptop graphics card.

Can I Upgrade My Laptop Graphics Card?

Can I Upgrade My Laptop Graphics Card?

To determine whether it is possible to Upgrade My Laptop Graphics Card, you first need to find out its type. It can be integrated or discrete.

can i replace Integrated graphics in laptop

It is considered the most budget card. It is soldered into the motherboard or processor, thanks to which it uses energy sparingly and does not heat up the internal components of the laptop.

The integrated graphics card cannot be replaced as it is built into the processor. If there is an urgent need to replace it, then the central processor will also have to be changed.
In this case, you need to make sure in advance that the processor and motherboard are compatible, otherwise the purchase will be in vain. You can do this yourself using the Everest program. It will show the name of the current hardware.

Upgrading a Dedicated Graphics Card in laptop

It is stand-alone equipment. It looks like a separate chip that is soldered to the motherboard. Easy to replace. You need to use the same model that was originally installed but only with a new version.

In some laptop models, you can often find a discrete graphics card soldered to the motherboard. In this case, you will need to unsolder it, and then solder a new one. It will be difficult to do it yourself, so it is better to entrust the job to the master.

Check guide on Geforce Experience Not Working.

Is it worth upgrading graphics card on laptop?

upgrading or Replacing a graphics card is needed in two cases:

  • Incorrect operation of the device. Most often this happens due to a malfunction of the video card processor and severe overheating, which causes the fan to fail.
  • Low power.  Power does not allow working comfortably with modern software products. Most often, the replacement is made by game lovers. Modern games have high system requirements, the main one of which is the new video card.

How to Upgrade Laptop Graphics Card?

To successfully replace a video card, you need to not only remove the old component and install a new one, but also remove and install the drivers.

Step-by-step upgrading and replacement of gPU

Step-by-step upgrading and replacement of gPU

Before buying a video card, you need to determine which model the motherboard will support. This can be done using the already mentioned Everest program:

  • Download and run this program. A window will open in front of you, where on the left there will be a large list of actions. Select the “Windows Video” tab.
  • After clicking, the program will show detailed information about the video card installed on the laptop and all components interconnected with it.

After determining the model of the installed video card:

  • Unplug your laptop. Disconnect all wires.
  • Place the laptop in a horizontal position on a flat surface. Remove the battery.
  • Use a Phillips screwdriver to remove the screws from the back of the laptop. Place the screws in a container so as not to lose.
    If there are several compartments, then pay attention to the one at the end grille.
  • Study the diagram of the structure of the laptop using the instructions. If you don’t have one at hand, first find a cooler (fan). It is an element of the cooling system along with a radiator and heat pipes that go to the processor and video card to cool them.
  • Remove the cooling system to get to the graphics card. Unscrew the screws from the fan, then proceed to remove the processor and video card heatsinks. The fasteners for each platform are numbered. Unscrew them in the reverse order, i.e. 4-3-2-1.
  • Disconnect the fan power plug. Remove the cooler.
  • Gently grasp the heat-dissipating pad, and holding the heat pipe, remove the part.
  • Grasp the video card by the edge, lift and pull it towards you to remove it from the slot.
  • Install the new card into the protective cover. Apply thermal paste to the video chip in a thin layer no more than 1 mm thick (no thicker).

    If you use a used card in the installation, then first clean it from the past thermal paste with a napkin soaked in alcohol. It is also recommended to replace the thermal paste on the processor at the same time.
  • Install the fan, connect the plug.
  • Wipe the heat-dissipating pads with an alcohol-soaked cotton pad to remove old dried thermal grease.
  • Put the heat pipes back and fasten them with the screws in the order 1-2-3-4.
  • Secure the back cover of the laptop with screws.

See also Best Laptop Graphics Card For Gaming.

Installing Drivers

Before starting the replacement, you need to remove the drivers from the previous video card. For this:

  • Open the start menu. We are interested in the search string.
  • Enter “Device Manager” in the search box and double-click on the search result.
  • In the window that appears, select “Video adapters”.
  • Click on the triangle at the beginning of this line. You will see your video card in the dropdown list. Right-click on the name of your video card to open the context menu. Click on the “Remove device” button and then on “OK”.

    If this line is not in the context menu, then double-click on the available video adapter with the left mouse button to call its properties.
  • In the window that appears, select the “Driver” tab. Click “Delete” at the bottom of the window Or “Remove device”, then check the box next to “Remove driver programs …” and finish the action.

A new video card usually comes with a driver disc. In this case:

  • Insert the disc into the drive.
  • Read the information and click “Install drivers”.
  • At the end of the installation, you need to restart the laptop, after which it will be ready for use.

If the kit does not include a disc with drivers, then you need to download them yourself. For this:

  • Enter the name of the video card in the search bar of your browser and add the phrase “download driver”.
  • Select the official website of the video card manufacturer (or any other trustworthy software distribution site) and start downloading the required driver.

    For NVIDIA video cards 
    For AMD ATI Radeon video cards
    For Intel graphics adapters
    Or you can use DriverPack Solution to automatically search and install all drivers for your laptop
  • When the download is complete, open the file and install the driver.
  • Restart your laptop and it will be ready to go.

Use external graphics cards for laptop: eGPU

There are two ways to install an external video card: using a docking station or an internal mPCI-E connector.

Use external graphics cards for laptop: eGPU

Dock station for eGPU

It is a device that has a PCI-E slot and controls. Power is supplied separately from the wall outlet, not together with the laptop. Sold separately from the graphics card.

Instructions:

  • Turn off your laptop completely.
  • Connect the power cable to the station and plug it in.
  • Connect the device to your laptop via the Thunderbolt port: plug the connector into the corresponding connectors.
  • Adjust the signal delay with the switch and get to work.

Internal mPCI-E connector for external gpu for laptop

All laptops have an integrated Wi-Fi modem that is connected to mimi PCL-Express. If the video card is connected via the internal mPCI-E connector, then the connection to the wireless network will have to be replaced with a wired one by connecting the cable from the router to the laptop.

A special adapter EXP GDC is required for connection. You can purchase it on the Aliexpress marketplace.

Instructions to connect eGPU with internal mPCIe Connector:

  • Turn off your laptop, and unplug it too. Remove the battery.
  • Remove the back cover of the laptop with a screwdriver.
  • Disconnect the WI-FI module board. First, remove the screw that holds the board in place.


Next, remove the clamps (two wires), and then remove the board from the connector.
Take the cable that comes with the EXP GDC (it has mPCI-E and HDMI plugs at the ends). Plug this cable into the appropriate connectors.
Please note that mPCI-E is inserted into the laptop instead of the Wi-Fi board!

  • Install the graphics card into the slot on the EXP GDC.
  • Use the second wire from the kit as an additional power supply for the video card. It has a 6-pin connector on one side and a double 6 and 6 + 2 (i.e. 8-pin) connector on the other.
  • Insert the end with the 6-pin connector into the corresponding connector on the EXP GDC, and connect the other end (6 or 8-pin) to the video card.
  • Connect the power supply included in the kit. It has an 8-pin connector.
    Insert the plug of the power supply into the desired socket on the EXP GDC and its plug into the outlet.
  • Connect the laptop battery and use the video card.

Do not forget that now the laptop does not have Wi-Fi, so connect the network cable to the LAN connector on the router, and insert the other end into the laptop’s network card.

Check Best Low Profile Graphics Cards Under 100 Dollars.

In what cases is it impossible to change laptop graphics card?

The video card cannot be changed in two cases:

  • If the video card is discrete . It is soldered to the motherboard. It is very difficult to remove it. This operation requires a lot of time and skills in soldering microprocessor technology, so it is best to seek the help of a specialist.
  • If the cooling capacity is low . Initially, the laptop is focused on specific loads, which are calculated based on the characteristics of the components installed inside.

    When you replace any of them, the power increases and the cooling system does not cope with its work.

Types of graphics cards for laptops

There are 3 main types of video cards:

  • Integrated. It has a simple design and budget cost. No GPU and video memory. The graphics are processed by the central processor through the chipset. Wastes RAM. Decreases overall laptop and graphics performance. Referred to in the documentation as SMA. Allows you to work with office applications, view videos and photos.
  • Discrete. Has its own memory and processor. Allows you to run games with different system requirements and work comfortably with photo editors. It consumes a lot of power, so the battery life will be minimal. Large and powerful fans make a lot of noise.
  • Hybrid. It is the middle variant of the device, between integrated and discrete. Equipped with its own memory and graphics core, which is built into the chipset. Allows you to work with office and graphics programs at the same time, as well as games. Consumes the optimal amount of energy and ensures high performance.

Conclusion

You can handle the upgrade and replacement of laptop graphics card yourself if it is discrete. The integrated model is difficult to change without damaging yourself, so it is better to entrust this matter to the master. With the new graphics card, the laptop will be able to work with demanding applications and reproduce high-quality graphics of games.