Last Updated on March 29, 2022
Upgrading your PC’s graphics card or GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) is possible, but it is hard to upgrade the graphics card in most laptop models. You can go for the latest RAM and storage drive for your gaming laptop to boost its gaming performance but upgrading the graphics card is nearly impossible.
All laptops are featured with integrated graphics cards that are attached to the motherboard. And then, we have laptops where you will find both the integrated and dedicated graphics cards either soldered into the motherboard or integrated with the Graphics Processing Unit. This is the reason why you can’t upgrade the graphics card or GPU of your laptop.
Is there a way to upgrade the graphics card on your Laptop?
Despite all this, you can still boost the gaming performance of your laptop. So, how it can be done? Here, in this article, we are going to highlight them.
Adding an External GPU
For a boost in your laptop’s gaming performance, you can set up a desktop graphics card on your laptop called an external GPU or eGPU. Adding a graphics card will improve your laptop’s performance, but it will not affect your laptop’s health.
An eGPU is a device that allows you to get desktop-quality graphics by attaching external hardware. It helps your laptop to use the external GPU instead of the graphics card installed in your system to retrieve graphics. It combines a power supply (desktop-style), an open PCI Express slot, and a graphics card.
But keep in mind that you can only go for an eGPU if your laptop features integrated graphics or a low-end graphics card. If your laptop has both the integrated graphics and a decent quality dedicated GPU and you connect a powerful GPU externally, then it will only result in compromised performance.
Also, it is necessary to know that some laptops have compatibility issues with eGPUs. Also, some machines are made only to support the same company’s dock. So, before adding an eGPU, make sure your laptop can support the external hardware.
If your laptop features a Thunderbolt ™ 3 (high-speed input/output) port, you can use it to connect your external graphics card since most eGPUs need this Thunderbolt ™ 3 port.
This Thunderbolt feature is very useful as it helps you upgrade your graphics for enhanced performance without replacing your current laptop. It is the best connection technology available in the market that can transmit the data at higher speeds up to 40 Gbps (Billions of bits per second) bandwidth.
Selecting an external GPU
When selecting an external GPU, there are various eGPU characteristics that you need to consider. Also, you must be aware of some details about your laptop and its power supply unit.
First, it is important to consider the maximum power output of your power supply unit. As graphics-intensive games need more power to give you optimal performance, it is important for your external GPU to have access to a lot of power. Anything below a 400-watt power supply unit will affect the graphics performance in a bad manner.
The second important thing to consider is the cooling source. The eGPUs either use an external or internal fan to prevent overheating, but an internal cooling system is ideal as its cooling process is more efficient as well as minimizes the space your external GPU takes up.
Also, when selecting an eGPU for your laptop, make sure it can fit into the space you have available, and it is not heavy. Moreover, compatibility with the laptop connection and graphics card is important.
Setting up an external GPU
In order to install the external graphics card, first, connect your laptop to the internet and search the graphics card driver on the web. Make sure you are searching for the driver of the graphics card you are going to set up for your laptop. After clicking the link of the video card, you will enter into the official website of that card.
After this, check whether you have all the required things to install your external GPU.
The dock includes a power connector and a Mini PCI Express to HDMI cable. Before setting up an external graphics card, you have to uninstall the Wi-Fi driver on your laptop. This is because you need to replace the wireless LAN card and connect the eGPU cable to the Mini PCI Express socket. After this, turn off your laptop.
You will either find this socket just on the backside on many laptops, but your laptop doesn’t need to have the same space for this PCIe socket. If it is not just the backside, you can find it behind your system’s hard disk, keyboard, or under the palm rest. If not, then find it on the left-hand side of your laptop.
After finding the PCIe socket and connecting the eGPU cable into the PCIe socket, connect your power supply unit with the power connector you get with the dock. After doing this, you need to attach both the eGPU or HDMI cable ends and the power connector (6-pin) to the dock.
Now, it is time to take your graphics card and insert it into the dock. Some graphics cards may need more power to provide the extra power with the PSU 6-pin or 8-pin connector. After that, attach your PSU to the electric power and plug the charger of your laptop. Now, your eGPU is ready to work.
After performing all the tasks mentioned above, turn on your laptop and enter into the BIOS to disable the network card or built-in display. Never forget to do this step because instead of the wireless LAN card, you are installing an external GPU.
Also see: How to Enable Motherboard HDMI?
But different laptops come with different BIOS, so it is necessary to know what you have to disable to make your eGPU work perfectly.
If you own a laptop from Dell or HP, you can uncheck “Onboard NIC” or disable “Integrated NIC” in the System Configuration.
After doing the disabling process, save the new setting and exit the BIOS. After this, your laptop will restart, and Windows will automatically detect your graphics card. Here, you need to install your graphics driver that you have installed from the official website. After installation, you can verify the name of your graphics card in the Device Manager.
Now, it is time to restart your laptop. Once you see the main display, right-click on the screen and select “NVIDIA Control Panel.” A new window will open from where you have to click on “Configure Surround PhysX” and then in the “PhysX setting,” select your graphics card as the “Default PhysX Processor.” Also, check the “Dedicate to PhysX” and click the “Apply” button.
Now, go to “Manage 3D Settings” and under the “Preferred Graphics Processor,” select the “High-performance NVIDIA Processor” and hit the “Apply” button again.
Now, you are ready to play high-end games with the help of your high-end external graphics card.