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Graphics Card Compatibility Check

You decided to build your own PC. After a lot of research, you shortlisted the CPU, Motherboard, RAM, Power Supply, Case, and cooling solution. But one thing that is bothering you is the selection of graphics cards. You are worried that the most expensive component of your PC might not be compatible with your build. How do you determine the compatibility of the graphics card with the rest of your PC? What are the important factors that you need to consider while performing a Graphics Card Compatibility Check?

In this guide, we will see all the steps you need to follow to make sure that your favorite (and expensive) graphics card is compatible with your PC build. You can apply these methods for a completely new build or if you are just upgrading the graphics card.

How to Perform a Graphics Card Compatibility Check?

PCIe Slot

If you are familiar with graphics cards at all, then you might know that we plug them into the PCIe Slots on the Motherboard. What’s important here is the PCIe version of the graphics card as well as the PCIe version of the Motherboard.

Take a look at Nvidia’s RTX 4000 Series and 3000 Series GPUs. They have PCIe 4.0 connectors. Now, take a look at the latest Z790 Motherboards for Intel. They have support for PCIe 5.0 Slots on them.

Are these two compatible with each other? Yes. PCIe has the benefit of backward compatibility. So, you can use the PCIe 4.0 Graphics Card on a PCIe 5.0 Slot on the motherboard.

What if you have a PCIe 3.0 Slot on the Motherboard? You can still use the PCIe 4.0 Graphics Card on a PCIe 3.0 Slot but the maximum transfer speed will be limited to PCIe 3.0 (or whichever is the slowest in general).

Also, most graphics cards need PCIe x16 Slots. Motherboards have at least one x16 Slot on them. So, make sure you plug the graphics card into that slot.

Power Supply

Another important thing while performing the Graphics Card Compatibility Check is the Power Supply. If you are following the trend of graphics cards from Nvidia and AMD in recent years, their performance is doubling generation after generation.

This performance bump comes at a price of higher power consumption. Let us compare the RTX 3090 and RTX 4090 for understanding the importance of power supply.

The RTX 3090 has a rated graphics card power of 350 watts. But this jumps to 450 watts for the RTX 4090. As per Nvidia’s specs, the minimum system power for RTX 3090 is 750 watts and for RTX 4090, it is 850 watts.

So, assume you have a 750-watt power supply that you are using with RTX 3090. Now, you want to upgrade the graphics card to RTX 4090. You can see where we are going with this.

The power supply cannot provide the necessary power to the entire system and you have to upgrade it as well. This is just an example, but you get the idea of the importance of power supply.

Dimensions of the Graphics Card

Another important factor for Graphics Card Compatibility Check is the physical dimensions of the graphics card. Most of the RTX 3000 Series and RTX 4000 Series graphics cards from Nvidia are very beefy.

They are at minimum 3-slot cards and depending on the cooler and heat sink, they can be even bulky. This means, your motherboard and the case must have 3 or more slots next to the PCIe x 16 Slot free in order to accommodate the graphics card.

You can refer to the manufacturer’s website and note down the three dimensions of the graphics card i.e., its length, width, and slots.

Now take these numbers and compare them with the numbers of the case. You can get the maximum dimensions a case supports from the case manufacturer’s website.


Generally, almost all CPUs from Intel and AMD have universal compatibility with all modern graphics cards. You can pair a 12th Gen Core i3 Processor from Intel with an RTX 3090 (don’t do this).

But what you need to keep in mind is that if you have a high-end graphics card and a relatively low-spec CPU, then the CPU bottlenecks the performance of the GPU.

The other way is also possible. A fast CPU with a relatively entry-level GPU. In this case, GPU will bottleneck the CPU.

Even though GPU is important for high-end graphics, the CPU is still responsible for the data that goes through the GPU. So, check if the selection of your CPU and/or GPU might bottleneck each other.

In the current generation, Ryzen 7 or higher on the AMD side and Core i7 or more on the Intel side are the best for all sorts of creative and productive work without possible bottlenecking.

Output Ports

The two most common display output ports on modern graphics cards are DisplayPort and HDMI.

Modern TVs have HDMI Ports while Monitors come with DisplayPort, HDMI, or VGA ports.

Generally, this shouldn’t be a concern for relatively new graphics cards and displays (TVs or Monitors). But if you have a slightly older monitor with VGA or DVI Port and a newer graphics card, then you need to purchase some adapters or better a new display unit.

The other way i.e., a modern TV or Monitor with a slightly older graphics card is also possible.

Perform Graphics Card Compatibility Check Before Buying One

Graphics Card is a necessity to some while it is a luxury to others. Irrespective of the status, checking whether your choice of graphics card is compatible with the rest of the system is very important.

The cost of modern graphics cards is skyrocketing. You have to spend close to $1,000 or more to get a decent graphics card. If you found that the graphics card is not compatible with your CPU, Motherboard, Power Supply, or Case after you made the purchase, then it will be a very annoying situation.

So, perform the above-mentioned Graphics Card Compatibility Check before buying an expensive component. In most cases, these checks are sufficient.


Are you building your first PC? Worried whether your graphics card will be compatible with the rest of the components? You are not alone.

In this guide, we discussed the importance of doing a Graphics Card Compatibility Check with the other major PC Components.

After that, we mentioned some basic compatibility checks that you can perform with your GPU. These are associated with the Motherboard, Case, CPU, and Power Supply.

We hope that this simple guide is helpful in determining whether your GPU is compatible with your PC or not.

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