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How do you look at any given graphics card and see if it will work with your computer?

I can't see why they wouldn't all work, but I have literally no experience with graphics cards.

If you want to use an example or something, the card I'm looking at is this one and my computer has an Intel i5-2400 3.1GHz processor (it's dell). But like I said I'm looking to see how you can tell if they work together.

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Give us the full model number for your computer. The general answer to this question, would be to look at the specifications of the computer, and based on the power supply requirements of the card, the size of the case, determine if your system will support it. As long as you have an open PCI-Ex16 slot the card should work ( the size should be fine ) the only question is if you have the required power supply cables and power requirements ( only you can determine that ). – Ramhound Oct 2 '13 at 15:59
up vote 5 down vote accepted

To see if it can work with your computer hardware you need to:

  1. Look which interface the graphical card uses.
  2. See how much power it needs.

The most used interfaces on a regular PC are:

  • ISA ( 8 bits) (1984-ish)
  • ISA (16 bits)
  • PCI
  • AGP
  • PCI-e (Roughly since 2003)

I said regular PC since non-PC style hardware will use other connections. E.g. Suns and mbus.

Almost graphical card for a PC which you can currently buy will use PCI-e.

PCI-e comes in a few flavours:

First of all there is the version. PCI-e v1, v2 and v3. These are compatible. No need to worry about it.

Second of all if the number of lanes. Usually denoted as x1, x4, x8 and x16.

Almost all graphical cards come in the x16 form factor.

So briefly: Look at the motherboard you have (or at its manual). Check if you have a free PCI-e connector. Check how large it is. Look at the graphical card you want to buy. See if its form factor matches or is smaller.

(A x4 graphical card will work fine in a x1, x4, x8 and in a x16 slot).

The next step is to check how much power the card uses. Does it need extra power connectors. Which (the 6-pins or the 8-pins version). What does your PSU supply?

So much for the hardware side: The remaining question is: "are there drivers for my card?". You might not find a driver for a new card and an old OS (e.g. no drivers for current cards and OS/2 or NT4). And vice versa, if you are buying an old, possibly second hand card: Is there a driver for a modern OS?

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