Can we upgrade laptop graphics card?
It’s one of the most asked questions that laptop owners have. Decades ago, you’d have scoffed at the idea of laptops getting their own discrete graphics card, but here we are now. Laptops have literally become somewhat of a mobile version of a desktop, mostly because the former and the latter are built similarly in more ways than one.
And if you have a gaming laptop, you’re probably wondering as to whether or not you can upgrade your laptop GPU. After all, it wouldn’t make sense to buy a new laptop just to upgrade a GPU right?
Well, we’ll answer those questions and more in this article.
How Different Is a Laptop’s Graphics Card from a Desktop Graphics Card?
A graphics processing unit, or GPU, in a laptop works the same way as a desktop GPU. The graphics card is responsible for rendering images, videos, and graphics, and powering through graphics-intensive tasks.
There really isn’t a big difference between a laptop GPU and a desktop GPU. GPUs of modern laptops have excellent graphics performance, mostly because they carry the same model of desktop graphics cards. However, laptop GPUs aren’t as powerful. For example, an Acer Predator Helios comes with a 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 laptop graphics card. A desktop version of an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 has 12GB of VRAM.
Why don’t gaming laptops and their graphics cards have the same specs as their desktop counterparts?
It boils down to hardware, and how a gaming laptop is built in general. Certain hardware components such as Motherboard and RAM in laptops are different from desktop PC. If you were to actually use the same desktop motherboard and build it into a laptop, you’d end up with something bigger than your average laptop.
The limitation of the laptop’s graphics card’s specifications is dictated by what kind of motherboard is used, and how big the laptop is. Note that laptops are meant to be carried around for work purposes. But a gaming laptop will allow you to play games, do some video editing, and more without building a PC.
Gaming on laptops might not be the same as gaming on a PC, but you’ll still be able to achieve 60FPS and ultra graphics settings regardless.
Can You Upgrade Your Laptop’s Graphics Card?
A similar question like this is often asked by one of two people:
- Those who find buying a new gaming laptop too expensive
- Those who want to upgrade their old GPU but want their older laptops to play games and more
The answer to this question is NO.
Yes, most laptops today have upgradeable RAMs and storage, but the two things that can never be upgraded (at least this time of writing) are the CPU and GPU.
However, some laptop manufacturers like Dell, have separate graphics cards that aren’t soldered into the motherboard, so you might be able to upgrade the graphics processing unit. But the vast majority of gaming laptops aren’t exactly upgradable.
Are There Alternatives to Upgrading To A Better Graphics Card?
If you have an old laptop and want to play games on it, there is another way for you to upgrade your graphics card. Note that this isn’t really optimal, but they will give you enough graphics performance for gaming, graphic design, video editing, and more.
USB Graphic Cards
Laptops can use USB graphics cards, but not exactly for gaming. As the name implies, the USB graphics card is plugged into a USB port. You then get access to extra graphics output (like an HDMI port or VGA as seen in this Startech USB Graphics Card). This will basically allow you to run a second screen simultaneously with your laptop.
External Laptop Graphics Cards
Another way for you to upgrade to a better GPU is to use an external GPU enclosure and connected to the laptop via the Thunderbolt port.
A good example would be the Razer Core X Aluminum External GPU Enclosure. External GPUs come with separate cooling system and requires additional power cables for the power supply since it doesn’t tap into the laptop’s PSU.
You can use any desktop graphics card on any compatible external GPU enclosure, but don’t expect the same kind of graphic performance as you would on a powerful desktop.