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How to Upgrade a Laptop Video Card

Omkar Phatak

If that latest 3D game doesn't work, or that HD movie doesn't play, chances are that your laptop's video card needs an upgrade. Here are guidelines on how you can upgrade your laptop's video card.
Laptops are preferred today instead of desktop computers due to the portability and ease of use that they offer. Laptop technology has been made possible due to miniaturization of every part that exists in a desktop computer, while taking care of the heat and ventilation problems that tend to arise as the component density increases.
However, this miniaturization also comes with certain disadvantages, one of which is that, upgrading the components in a laptop is considerably more difficult than upgrading the same in a desktop computer.
The process of miniaturization makes the interior structure of a laptop much more complicated than that of a desktop. Hence replacing the components within it can be a tricky job.
If you perform the video card up-gradation on your own, firstly, the manufacturer's warranty becomes void, and there is a risk of permanently damaging the laptop. That is why, don't attempt the up-gradation of your card, unless you are completely confident about pulling it off.
You need some basic knowledge of what the insides of a laptop look like and what goes where. If you are not careful, forget upgrading the video card, you will have to upgrade the entire laptop by buying a new one!

Need to Upgrade the Video Card

Apart from the RAM, the video card, is one of the most upgraded components of a laptop computer. The reason is that most laptops have a graphic card that is not especially designed for 3D gaming applications.
Most installed cards are good enough, when it comes to watching movies or playing not-so-graphic-intensive games. However, if you plan to play 3D games on your laptop, then up-gradation to a more powerful card is essential.

Is it Possible to Upgrade a Laptop Video Card?

Laptop graphic cards can be upgraded, but not all laptops have this facility. The miniaturization comes at a price and imposes restrictions as these parts usually are soldered inside. Moreover, if your laptop has a facility to upgrade video cards, the new ones have to come through the manufacturer, else it might lead to compatibility issues.
So if you have decided on upgrading it, then call up the laptop manufacturer's service center, and ask whether your model has a facility for up-gradation. If it has, you can order the appropriate graphic card from them.

Steps to Upgrade the Video Card

Upgrading a video card in a laptop is a considerably complicated than on a desktop computer. If you are not possessed of the prerequisite knowledge and skills, it is advisable to seek professional help. If however, you do decide on doing it yourself, go through the following basic outline of the procedure that you would be required to follow.
Note: This is a generic procedure and may not be exactly applicable to the particular laptop model that you have.
Before starting, make sure that you have the right video card, and have confirmed with the manufacturer about up-gradation issues. Switch off the laptop and be ready with the correct screw drivers.
First thing to do is remove the hinge covers. You need to go about the whole job delicately and remember to keep stock of what goes where, as you will need that information to put it all back together again. Most laptops have a plastic hinge cover, which need to be pried open and removed from the laptop chassis.
Next part is removing the keyboard by removing the screws under the hinge cover, that holds it in place. Lift it off by unplugging and keep it aside. After that you have to remove the display assembly. That means the removal of the entire screen apparatus, along with the cables connected to the display and the Wi-Fi antenna.
Then, the optical drive must be removed by depressing a latch situated at the bottom of the laptop. Remove the optical drive by sliding it out sideways. Then you must remove the shell on the upper side, by the removing screws at the bottom.
At this point you should have access to the video card of the laptop, which must be removed by unscrewing screws. Next, you replace it with the new card and proceed in reverse to put all the components and covers back in place again. Make sure you put everything as it is to avoid any complications.
If you have a Dell laptop or a high-end gaming one, the chances of being able to upgrade it are pretty high. Make sure that you confirm with the manufacturer and pick a compatible graphics card before proceeding with the upgradation.