5 Steps To Remove a Graphics Card From Your PC (Beginner friendly guide)

Graphics card GPU

Removing a graphics card sounds easy enough on the surface, but is it really? Well, the answer is yes: if you do it correctly! 

Get it wrong and you could face a bunch of new and expensive problems, and removing a graphics card will be the least of your worries… 

So, here’s my simple graphics card removal route for you to use:

Step 1: Remove Any Graphics Card Software And Drivers on your PC

Step 2: Wear An Antistatic Wrist Strap

Step 3: Locate Your Graphics Card

Step 4: Pulling The Card Out

Step 5: How To Store Your Old Graphics Card

Now you’ve got a pretty good idea of what to do next, but let me say this one more time: don’t go yanking and pulling at your graphics card, you will ruin your PC and its components! Oh, and, if you don’t account for static electricity when rummaging around you’ll cause a PC fry-up. 

But this is why I’m here with my article, I’m going to tell you in more depth now how to remove your graphics card without harming your computer, or you for that matter…

Step 1: Remove Any Graphics Card Software And Drivers on your PC

Before installing a new graphics card, it’s best to completely uninstall the previous graphics card’s driver, especially if you are switching between brands (e.g NVidia to AMD). You can uninstall the drivers manually or let software do the job for you. 

To uninstall the drivers manually, press your ‘Windows icon (on your keyboard) + R’ at the same time. The ‘Run box’ will appear. You then need to type in ‘devmgmt.msc, and press ‘Okay’. Then locate your graphics card driver on the list that appears, and hit ‘Uninstall’.

Note This will not delete the driver completely e.g registry keys, folders and files. These will stay on your PC system.

I highly recommend using software called ‘Display Driver Uninstaller to uninstall old graphics card drivers. The software is simple to use and efficient. It will thoroughly delete graphics drivers for you without leaving leftovers on your PC. If you have issues using ‘Display Driver Uninstaller’, or don’t know how to use it, I recommend this YouTube tutorial. 

Before you go any further and start pulling out connections, you need to make sure that you discharge any static electricity that might be left in your PC unit. Static electricity is the build-up of electric charges that are left on the surface of objects.

If static is not dealt with correctly it can potentially “fry” your PC’s components. 

To make sure you discharge any remaining static you need to first switch off your power supply. Then press and hold the power button on the PC for a few seconds, just to make sure that you cleared all the residual power left in the PC. Finally, unplug everything from your PC unit.

Step 2: Wear An Antistatic Wrist Strap

An ‘Anti Static Wrist Strap’’, also called ‘ESD Wrist Strap’, will enable you to work safely with your electronics. The ‘Anti Static Wrist Strap’ prevents huge build-ups of static electricity, which can be lethal for you and your gadgets! 

For example, excess static electricity present on the surface of your body can be discharged into your PC components: frying them in the process.

Nobody wants a ‘fried’ PC for breakfast, so wear an antistatic wrist strap and ensure that you and your electronics are safe – the only things you need to fry are your eggs in the morning!

Step 3: Locate Your Graphics Card

After you have disconnected the power and all the cables from your PC, you need to remove the side panel on the computer case. The side panel is often secured by a few screws or clamps –  so you need to remove the screws. 

Typically, the graphics card sits in the motherboard’s PCI slot near the bottom of the unit, and it’s often near the CPU.

Note: Always remember that a graphics card is placed into a x16 slot, which is the longest PCI-e slot available.

While you’re neck-deep in your PC case, it’s always a good idea to dust the inside of your PC. Over time it can get quite dusty inside and the dust can affect your PC’s performance. Carefully clean the dust away with a microfibre cloth, and try not to hit components while doing this!

Step 4: Pulling The Card Out

Generally, graphics cards are plugged into a PCI-e slot on the motherboard. However, most modern graphics cards are secured in place by a screw that holds the outside metal panel of the graphics card (The panel where you plug in your HDMI cables.) to the PC case. This helps take the weight of the graphics card off the PCI Express slot.

Look for the screw on the outside of the case and unscrew it. This will partially release the card. Sometimes these screws are hidden under a plastic panel, so be sure to check.

Once this is done, look for the power cables. Many graphics cards nowadays require a lot of power to work properly. Some of the top models demand between 110 and 270 watts of power, while lower-end models require around 75 watts of power to work. Interestingly, high-end graphics cards under full load can require the same amount of power as the rest of the PC’s components combined. 

Most graphic cards have 6 or 8-pin power connectors that are located on the top of the card. These slot into the card and are held in place by little plastic clips. When pulling the wire connectors out, push the clips in with your thumb and carefully pull the wire connectors out of the graphics card. Check there are no other cables connected to your card. 

Note: Typically, older graphics cards may have other cables plugged in. If so, carefully remove them. 

The last step you need to take before removing your graphics card is to push a release tab down that is located at the end of the PCI express slot.

This tab holds the graphics card in the PCI Express slot. 

The plastic tab is awkward to access as it’s located right at the bottom of the graphics card on the motherboard. Often, larger graphics cards will partially cover it. 

If you can’t reach the tab with your finger, your best course of action is to take a long plastic item, such as a pen, to push the tab down. 

Hold the graphics card with one hand and push down with pen on the tab lightly until you hear a click. Then, while still holding down on the tab, pull the graphics card away from the motherboard slowly. 

The card should be released and you can slowly manoeuvre it out of the case. 

Remember not to rip it out, just gently pull it out. Ripping the card out can cause severe damage to the PCI slot on the motherboard, as well as permanent damage to the graphics card. 

Step 5: How To Store Your Old Graphics Card

After removing the graphics card I highly recommend that you put it in an antistatic bag.

Why is this so important? Because static electricity can cause non-visible damage to components and can potentially “fry” your graphics card. Antistatic bags prevent static build-up – hence avoiding any mishaps! 

Note: Anti static bags are only antistatic for objects placed inside the bag. Resting the card outside of the bag will not protect it.

You can buy them on Amazon or at your local tech store. Antistatic bags can be used to store other electronic products such as IT hardware, PCB boards, motherboards, network cards, and other hard disks.

Quick reminder

So now you have a better idea of how to go about removing your graphics card. Here’s a quick reminder of the best bits I’ve talked about: 

  • Clear your PC of the software – Before installing a new driver it is highly recommended to uninstall the previous driver
  • Make sure you turn the power off – Cleaning the residual power left in the PC is very important
  • Get an antistatic wrist strap – Using antistatic wrist strap will keep your electronics safe 
  • Make sure you remove the graphics card slowly – don’t go yanking it out – Ripping it out may cause permanent damage
  • Get an antistatic bag to dispose of your graphics card – It’s safer! 

What next?

I’ve taken my graphics card out but I don’t know how to install my new graphics card, what should I do? There is a really easy guide to doing this correctly here by PC World.

I’ve bought a new graphics card but I don’t actually know if my current PC has enough power to power the new card, how do I find out if the PC is powerful enough? Checking out your PC’s compatibility with your new graphics card is a must-do before you go ahead and spend money. This article by How To Geek will be able to help you out.

What can I do with my old graphics card?  You can sell your old GPU on popular sites like eBay, or Amazon.

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Beth Morris

Beth's love of gaming started when she first played Frogger on her Tiny PC. Since then she's developed a love for FPSs, a need for speed playing Forza, and a hunger to find dragon's eggs in Spyro! When she's not gaming she's either cooking, reading, or spinning around in her car!

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