Whether upgrading an old NVIDIA graphics card or replacing a defective one, installing an NVIDIA graphics processing unit (GPU) in an HP laptop shouldn't be a daunting task. Replacement laptop cards are relatively inexpensive, starting at around $10 and topping out at under $100 for the most sophisticated, as of February 2011. HP laptops come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Nevertheless, taking one apart to get to the graphics card on the motherboard shouldn't be a problem, even for the novice consumer.
Download the drivers for the replacement graphics card from the NVIDIA website (see Resources). Put the drivers on a thumb drive. Back up all important files and folders on an outboard storage source.
Turn off and unplug all connections from the HP laptop. Remove the battery.
Turn the unit over and remove all the Phillips head screws. Generally, you'll have to remove between 18 and 24 screws. The screws vary in length so be sure each screw returns to the same location it left. There are several different methods of doing this. One way is to use color-coded stickers.
Turn the unit back over carefully and lift off the keyboard. It may be necessary to use a flat head screw driver or pocket knife as a lever. If so, begin on the right side of the keyboard under the "Enter" key and lift gently; if the keyboard doesn't pop right out, wedge the screw driver blade under the left "CapsLock" key. If the keyboard still doesn't come out, make sure all the screws on the bottom of the laptop have been removed.
Locate the graphics card attached to the motherboard under the keyboard. On some models, the motherboard is covered by a protective thin metal cover. Remove this to expose the GPU. The card will be marked by the NVIDIA or ATI logo, depending on whether the CPU is an Intel or AMD product.
Unplug the monitor cord and unscrew the graphics card. Generally the card will be attached by two Phillips head screws. Place the new card in the same position as the old card.
Replace the graphics card screws and attach the monitor cable. Replace the protective metal shield if present.
Replace the keyboard, close the monitor lid and turn over the laptop. Replace all the bottom screws.
Replace the battery and plug the power cord in and turn on the unit. The operating system will recognize the new card and request the drivers. Plug in the thumb drive with the drivers and direct the operating system to that drive letter and file. Install the drivers.
- Make sure the work area is well lit.
- If you lose a screw, the best place to find a replacement is a computer repair shop.
- Touch metal or use an antistatic strap to remove static from your body before handling electronic parts, which can become damaged from static electricity.
- Opening the chassis of a laptop usually voids the warranty. If the unit is still under warranty, let the repair center replace the defective GPU.
- Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images