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21 More Super Ways to Speed Up Vista - Part 9 - Upgrade Your Graphics Card

written by: Dianna Monda Dill•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 5/11/2009

This step-by-step tutorial will show you how to upgrade your graphics card so as to optimize system performance and speed up Vista.

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    TIP #18: Upgrade Your Graphics Card

    Vista's visual wow-factor comes at a price. All that eye-candy and other graphic effects demand a decent graphics card to show its true colors. Even with adequate RAM, if your PC's graphics card is not up to snuff, you will not be able to run Windows Aero and benefit from the full Vista user interface experience. It will also affect operational speed and productivity if you use graphics intensive programs or play the current-generation video games.

    You may need to upgrade your graphics card with a faster, Aero-capable graphics card. At a minimum, an Aero-capable graphics card must also have at least 128MB of graphics memory. It must also support:

    • A WDDM driver (Windows Display Driver Model)
    • DirectX 9 graphics
    • Pixel Shader 2.0
    • 32 bits per pixel

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    Before You Buy Your New Graphics Card…

    • Determine the type of motherboard connection you have – PCI-Express slots are the norm, but you may have an AGP connection if you have an older model system.
    • Determine the physical space that you have available inside your computer for your new card. Some graphics cards take up the space of two slots rather than one. Having least two free PCI-Express slots will be sufficient.
    • Determine whether the graphics card you want to purchase is compatible with your system. Installing a higher-level graphics card than your computer can support will produce muted or blurred graphics that may be even worse than before.

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    Uninstall your Old Graphics Card Drivers

    You need to uninstall your current graphics card’s drivers so that they do not cause any conflict with the drivers of your new card.

    1. Click on the Start button. Select Control Panel and then click Programs.
    2. Select Programs and Features.
    3. Locate each reference for your old graphics card in the listed programs. Highlight the driver and click on the Uninstall button.
    4. Provide a password or confirmation when prompted by Vista’s User Account Control.
    5. Click NO when prompted to reboot. Instead, shut down your PC. You can now proceed to upgrade your graphics card.

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    Upgrade your Graphics Card

    1. Shut down your computer and disconnect it from the power source. Unscrew your computer’s cover and set it aside.
    2. Ground yourself with the wrist-grounding bracelet before you touch any of the inner components of the PC. Alternatively, touch an unpainted part of the PC from time to time.
    3. Detach your old graphics card from its slot. It may be attached with a small screw or quick release clips.
    4. Line up your new graphics card with the slot that had held the old graphics card. Insert it into the vacant slot, pushing it firmly into place. Secure it in position.
    5. Attach any power fitting it may have into the socket on the graphics card. Newer graphics cards usually require an additional power supply.
    6. Screw your PC case back in place. Plug the cords back in and reboot your computer.

    Once Vista loads up, it will detect the new card and automatically install the appropriate drivers. You may also go online to download and install the latest drivers directly from the manufacturer’s website.