Lenovo H530s – Installing a Low Profile Graphics Card

Your computer comes with video connections why would you want to install a graphics card?  If you do video editing or want to play some more graphics intense games, just realize this slimline will not be a power house gaming PC, you’re going to want to upgrade to a dedicated graphics card.

In this article you’ll

  • See a video of us installing a low profile graphics card into our Lenovo H530s
  • Learn some of the basics you have to keep in mind when looking for a graphics card
  • Get some tips on how to choose the right graphics card for you

The video below shows the installation of a Zotac NVidia GeForce 640GT low profile graphics card.

Basics of Graphics Card

There are some limiting factors when you buy a graphics card.

  • Form Factor – either full height or low profile
  • Power Consumption – you are limited by your power supply.
  • Expansion Slot – which slot do you use?
  • Nvidia vs. AMD – which brand should you buy?

Form Factor

A lot of manufacturers offer graphics cards that are both full height and low profile.  They do this usually by having you disconnect a connection and install a low profile plate as seen in the video.

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Low Profile Replacement Plates for Graphics Cards

Low Profile Replacement Plates for Graphics Cards

The trade off for this is some of the more powerful graphics cards are not offered because of the limited amount of space on the circuit board.

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Low Profile and Full Height Graphics Card Comparison

Low Profile and Full Height Graphics Card Comparison

To find some low profile cards all you have to do is an Amazon search for ‘low profile graphics cards’ in the computer section.

Power Consumption

Graphics cards draw additional power from your system.  This is why there is a recommended computer power supply in the manufacturer’s requirements.  For example, the stock power supply for a Lenovo H530s, if it has an Intel i3, is 180 watts.  The graphics card installed in the video had a recommendation of a 350 watt power supply.  To stay within manufacturer’s recommendations the power supply needed to be upgraded.

Expansion Slot

Your computer comes with expansion slots that allow you to add functionality to your system, such as better graphics, sound, different network interface as well as many other things.  You will use the PCI Express 16x slot in your H530s, as seen in the video, for your graphics card installation.

 

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Comparison of PCI Express Slot Sizes

Comparison of PCI Express Slot Sizes

If you are interested in more details about  PCI Express, this is a good article on how PCI Express works.

Nvidia vs. AMD graphics cards

If you want a heated debate ask a group of PC gamer which graphics card manufacturer, ask which is better Nvidia or AMD graphics cards.  You’ll see Shakespearean passion as statistics for the graphics cards flow like a sonnet from their lips.

Do a Google search of “nvidia vs amd” and you’ll come up with 12 million page results.

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Nvidia vs AMD Google Search

Nvidia vs AMD Google Search

Compare that to the 900,000 pages dedicated to the Shakespeare Sonnets referenced above.

On Kotaku they did a pole about which card manufacturer is better for gaming.  The results of over 28,000 votes for this pole have Nvidia ahead of AMD for gaming.

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Kotaku Nvidia VS AMD Pole

Kotaku Nvidia VS AMD Pole

I started counting the number of comments associated with the pole, and stopped at 247 comments.  This didn’t include the response threads that were created off those comments.

So does this mean Nvidia is what you should buy?  No.  The following tips will help you make up your mind.

5 Tips to Help You Choose a Graphics Card

  1. Money
    How much cash do you have to spend on your graphics card upgrade?  I’m not a gamer so I can’t see myself dropping $500 on the latest high end graphics card.  There are plenty of cards for right around $100 that will improve your general performance.
  2. How You Plan On Using It
    Look at the software you’re going to use.  Do they optimize that software for a particular brand or model of graphics card?  Examples are
    Nvidia graphics cards certified for Adobe products
    AMD certified graphics cards for Adobe products
    Adobe Premiere GPU certification page
    PowerDirector specifications for graphics cards
  3. How Much Room Do You Have?
    Do you have enough space for the graphics card to fit?  I know it sounds funny but some cards, especially more expensive ones, are designed to fit in a regular sized computer case.  If you’re upgrading in a small form factor case like the Lenovo H530 slim line PC, open the case ahead of time and make sure the card will fit.  Also, some cards take up two slots.  Make sure you don’t have something in the adjacent slot in this case.
  4. Does Your Power Supply Have Enough Wattage?
    I know this was covered above but I can’t stress enough that you follow the graphics card manufacturer’s specifications on suggested power supply wattage.  Besides annoying popups telling you your graphics card doesn’t have enough power, you might run into problems later when you do something graphics intensive.
  5. Have You Upgraded the RAM in Your PC?
    I know this is supposed to be about graphics cards, but when you don’t have enough RAM in your computer, it has to use your hard drive as a second area to temporarily store programs that are running.  The act of having to write and retrieve stuff from your hard drive takes longer than accessing it directly from your RAM (memory).If you add a graphics card but still have 2 or 4 GB of RAM your computer might still seem slow because you don’t have enough memory in your computer.

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