Graphics Card For Laptop

Category: Laptops , Video

Laptops are full of compromises between size, energy efficiency, and performance. The manufacturing cost of components enters into the equation, too. So if you want the best performance possible from any laptop component, you must upgrade the original component with one made by a third party. This is particularly true with graphics cards for laptops...

Laptop Graphics Adapter

Upgrade Your Laptop Graphics Card

Upgrading a laptop or notebook graphics card can improve your mobile computing experience significantly, in many cases. A moderately priced upgrade laptop graphics card will refresh the screen faster and more smoothly; be brighter under a variety of lighting conditions; and, if you choose wisely, display colors in more vivid hues and finer details. But in some cases, a graphics card upgrade may not be possible for your laptop or notebook.

Some laptops have their graphics cards integrated into their motherboards to save space. You cannot remove the graphics card to replace it with another. If the laptop has a removeable graphics card, a PCI Mini slot, or PCI Express upgrade slot inside, then you're OK. You can install an upgraded graphics card, disable the built-in one, and use the upgrade. Check your laptop's specifications carefully to see if it supports third-party graphics cards and, if so, what sort of interface(s) it supports.

It's best to buy laptop graphics cards from manufacturers who have well-established reputations. When you see a card you like, search for reviews of it in ePinions.com and other online forums. Amazon.com's customer reviews are very helpful. So are hands-on reviews performed by experts at magazines and Web sites such as PC World, Cnet, Wired, etc.

You can pay a pro to install a laptop graphics card, or you can do it yourself. Either way, installing a graphics card in a laptop is a time-consuming, painstaking task akin to brain surgery. You will have to take your laptop apart almost completely, carefully labeling all the tiny screws and the holes into which they go. If you have never done laptop surgery before, budget at least 90 minutes of complete solitude for the task. A slideshow tutorial on replacing a laptop graphics card is available at PC World's Web site.

Note that this is a general guide; the exact steps for your laptop may vary slightly. You can usually find the technical maintenance manual for a given make and model of laptop on the manufacturer's Web site. Often it's in PDF format and you can print the relevant pages. Upgrading your laptop's graphics card takes time, research, and - if you do it yourself - steady hands and lots of patience. But the performance improvements will make computing more pleasant and work more productive.

USB Graphics Adapters

There's another option you might want to consider, especially if your goal is to run multiple monitors on your laptop. A USB graphics adapter lets you connect an additional monitor to your laptop much like you'd plug in any other USB device. Plug your monitor into the external adapter, then plug the adapter into any USB port on your notebook or laptop. A second monitor on your laptop lets you read email on one display, and view a spreadsheet or website on the other. You could also give a Powerpoint presentation on one display, and see your notes on the other.

USB graphics adapters for laptops support high resolution monitors, typically up to 1600x1200, and offer 32-bit color capability. Make sure you buy an adapter that matches your monitor, be it VGA, DVI or HDMI interface cable.

The best places to buy laptop graphics cards are mostly online. Egghead.com, TigerDirect.com, and other independent distributors of many brands generally have the lowest prices. eBay is a good place to find deals on used and refurbished laptop graphics cards. Individual sellers may overvalue the cards they have replaced. Liquidators who strip fleets of used business laptops for parts often price them to sell fast.

Do you have something to say about upgrading a laptop graphics card? Post your comment or question below...

 
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Posted by on 23 Jun 2010


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Most recent comments on "Graphics Card For Laptop"

Posted by:

Patrick Coppage
23 Jun 2010

Take close-ups of what you're doing. Step by step photos. You'll have something to look at so you don't screw up putting it back together.
A word to the wise.


Posted by:

Sparks
24 Jun 2010

You're wrong. Laptop graphics are NEVER upgradable. They're soldered flat on the motherboard. Plus, laptops don't have PCI slots... and Graphics cards DON'T use PCI slots.... They use PCI-Express and its possible only on a desktop. Nvidia tried to lauch upgradable modules such as MXM... but it never suceeded.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm sorry, but you are clearly mistaken. As I mentioned in the article, some laptops have the graphics hardwired into the motherboard, but not all. And even if they do, it may still be possible to add a graphics card via a PCI Mini or PCI Express upgrade slot. I suggest you visit the PC World tutorial on how to upgrade a laptop graphics card, and see the actual pictures for yourself.


Posted by:

tommy2rs
29 Jun 2010

You can also get video cards for pcmcia card slots though I've never felt the need. Most laptops (including my Asus Eee PC 900 netbook) have at least a VGA port. New models come with DVI or even HDMI ports. I currently use my Toshiba laptop with a spare 19" Acer monitor (VGA only) for a dual screen setup. I have a similar setup for my old Mac Ti Powerbook using a 19" crt monitor. And I love the look on peoples faces when I hook the netbook up to my 42" flatscreen tv.

Display Fusion (a freeware program) makes using multiple monitors on any computer or desktop easy and provides more options than using just the adapters software.


Posted by:

iulian
06 Jul 2010

Top Best Graphics Cards For The Money: July 2010 here http://stylishfirst.com/best-graphics-cards-for-the-money-july-2010/


Posted by:

molly
22 Nov 2010

Can i upgrade 2 gb graphics card in acer aspire 4736z laptop?


Posted by:

Matt
03 Feb 2011

Is there a limit to which cards you can use for the slot... like you can't put a PCI-E card into an AGP slot on your desktop computer. I'm looking to swap a laptop with a recent gpu (310m or 4570) with an older but much better performing gpu (a fx 1500M).

EDITOR'S NOTE: The card must match the slot you have.


Posted by:

Matt
04 Feb 2011

So there's no set size... It varies from laptop to laptop or gpu to gpu?


Posted by:

Dave
06 May 2012

Another quite reasonable option wor most laptops would be a docking station, port replicator. They offer many more options for those whose laptops don't move much. Options like additional additonal optional and hard drives, USB ports, HDMI and network jacks. No additional video memory but my Dell drop the laptop on port replicator had VGA and DVI ports to provide dual monitor capability and four additional USB ports.


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