Laptops offer us many advantages over desktop computers, such as the possibility to carry them wherever we go, but there are also limitations when it comes to performing tasks that require high performance. Such as 3D rendering, playing video games, or self-battery instability and difficulty upgrading hardware components over time.
When designing a laptop, the main idea is portability, because it does not make much sense to build a laptop that weighs more than 10 kg, is noisy, and is difficult to transport. So it is not uncommon for them to be designed with the possibility of upgrading the computer‘s GPU in mind. Even gaming laptops, high-performance computers designed to perform heavy tasks, usually do not have the option to replace the graphics card.
If you are reading this article, you may be wondering if it is possible to replace the graphics card of a laptop or notebook computer. In this guide, we explore whether this is possible and we have the best options for improving our team.
Is it possible to change the graphics card of a laptop?
The short answer is yes, the long answer is that it depends. In other words, it is possible to replace the graphics card of the laptop’s motherboard, however, it is most likely that you do not have the knowledge or the necessary tools to do the job. So it is not possible for ordinary people.
The GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) or graphics card is usually soldered directly to our laptop’s motherboard, just a few laptops such as Alienware M17 R3, Lenovo ThinkPad P71 Workstation or Clevo P870DM. G, allow. Replace the graphics card.
Any laptop with an MXM slot for graphics cards allows us to change the GPU easily and quickly. But as I say, MXM devices are not abundant in the market. And for some as a baby gets older, he or she will outgrow this.
Before proceeding, it is important to clarify a series of concepts that we will use later in this guide.
GPU graphics cards
The GPU is the PC’s graphics processing unit, a chip that processes graphics and images using high-speed mathematical calculations. They are responsible for representing images, animations and videos. They can be of two types:
- Integrated: As the name suggests, they are integrated GPUs in the motherboard. This is a combination of CPU and GPU. It offers us more efficient energy consumption, lower cost and smaller size. However, its performance is also low and the heat generation is much higher than a dedicated graphics card.
- Waqf: This is a separate piece of hardware that is connected to your computer’s motherboard via a PCIe slot. These graphics cards have their own memory, so they retain the PC’s RAM memory. They offer us high efficiency, low temperature and high stability.
Laptops, tablets, smartphones, consoles, etc. They have integrated graphics, while desktops, workstations and servers have graphics cards.
Explain this point, let’s move on to the next, is it possible to replace the laptop’s integrated graphics chip? To answer this point, it is important to keep in mind the term: Reballing.
What is the balance?
Rebaling, also called Ball Gray Array (BGA), is a type of soldering. It basically involves heating a chip until it is released, usually using a heat gun and a vacuum tool. Remove the solder from the device and chip, insert new solder balls and re-solder it on the board.
This is a common procedure used to replace or re-solder damaged chips that have been de-soldered from the board due to overuse and high temperatures.
It requires high technical knowledge and experience. This is not a process that can be performed by any user.
How to find out if my laptop allows GPU switching.
If your laptop has an integrated GPU, forget about it. The cost of replacing a soldered chip is high, expensive and perhaps limited. Because the number of integrated GPUs that are compatible with your specific motherboard, processor, etc., is very small. In that case, you have two realistic options:
Save money and invest in other tools that offer you better performance features.
Buy an external graphics card for the laptop.
To verify that your graphics are connected, go to your device manufacturer’s website and identify what type of card you’re using in the GPU section.
Replace the laptop’s graphics card.
Whenever the manufacturer’s website identifies an MXM slot or MXM graphics card, it means that you can easily change the GPU by purchasing an MXM card to replace the GPU in your laptop. You can find graphics like GTX 980, RTX 2080 or RTX 2060, among many others.
To do this, simply remove the patch from the back cover of your laptop, accessing the inside of it. Remove the GPU heat sink and remove the card from the MXM slot. Finally install the new graphics card in the same way. Reinstall the heat sink, turn off the BIOS and access it to check if it detects it correctly. Finally to install the drivers.
External graphics card for laptop eGPU
It is an external device (eGPU) that allows you to install a graphics card and then connect it to your laptop via the Thunderbolt 3 connection.
The performance we can achieve is minimal, as the Thunderbolt 3 is about three times slower than a traditional PCI-E connection. I know this can be a very attractive option for those users who want to get the most out of their laptop, but in reality the performance rates we get are modest compared to the costs involved.
Is it really worth it?
If you have an Ultrabook or a very basic laptop, you have a computer graphics card that is not already in use and you don’t mind spending between 350-600 Euros, go ahead.
The cost will be higher, if in addition to the EGPU unit, we have to buy a graphics card, which adds about 700-1000 euros depending on the graphics card we buy. So in the end it would be more profitable for us to buy another laptop.
From my point of view it is not worth it, unless you already have a graphics card at home and you really like your Ultrabook.
As we have seen throughout the article, the idea of changing your laptop’s GPU for better performance can be very tempting, but it is not as easy as it may seem and the final cost will be much higher. The performance we can achieve. Really, unless you have a very basic laptop, the real difference is very small when it comes to playing video games or 3D image processing.
I would suggest saving that money and buying a better laptop. Looking for the team with the most upgrade options, looking to the future.