How to Upgrade Your Graphics Card

This tutorial will take you through the steps involved in upgrading your graphics card – covering each of the following:

  • uninstalling your current card’s drivers
  • removing your current card
  • installing your new card
  • installing the new card’s drivers
  • adjusting your display properties.

These days installing graphics card drivers is a lot easier than it used to be. Nowadays manufacturers generally supply downloadable drivers in the form of self-extracting archives that simply need to be downloaded and double-clicked. Increasingly drivers distributed in this way even take care of uninstalling superseded driver versions.

However, this tutorial will focus on doing things the old-fashioned way, and make things a little more interesting still by using a “new” card whose precise model is unknown – and for which there is no associated documentation or driver disk.

The operating system environment is Windows 98. However, the tutorial ends with a few Windows XP screenshots – to illustrate how Microsoft have made the management of graphics drivers a little easier in their current offering.

Ten years ago there were several graphics chipset manufacturers and a similar number of companies focusing on building cards based on one or other of these. However, there has been tremendous consolidation in this area of the PC industry in the last decade, and today there isn’t a high-tech heavyweight fight on the planet as competitive as that in the PC graphics arena, with ATI and NVIDIA slugging it out for market share. Of the other graphics chip-makers who were around in the early 1990s, only Matrox has managed to survive.

NVIDIA came to the fore in the late 1990s, benefiting from rivals’ unsuccessful attempts to broaden their businesses via acquisition. By staying focused on what they did best – designing graphics chips – they were able to ramp up their designs to the point where they were able to achieve a six-monthly product cycle. The competition simply couldn’t keep up and the acquisition of erstwhile rival 3DFX in late 2000 appeared to cement the company’s position of dominance.

Canadian-based ATI has been in the graphics business for close on twenty years, growing from a seven person operation in 1985 to a huge multinational corporation by 2001. The company has built its business by supplying cost-effective graphics chips to OEM computer makers worldwide. It made a huge mistake in the summer of 2000 when it disclosed plans for Apple to include its chips in a number of forthcoming products before Steve Jobs was to do likewise in a keynote speech. Apple were not best pleased and soon after the systems in question were unveiled, with NVIDIA graphics sub-systems! The faux pas was estimated to have cost ATI millions of dollars.

However, the company managed to survive the incident and surprised everyone in 2002 when it succeeded in wresting the 3D speed crown from NVIDIA for a time with it’s Radeon 9700 chip.

Hardware Upgrades | PC Maintenance | PC Troubleshooting | PC Customization | PC Leisure

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