How to Clean a Graphics Card (Simple Steps)

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how to clean a graphics card

That weird sound coming from your desktop computer is its desperate cry for help. When was the last time that you cleaned the inside of your computer?

PC maintenance should not stop at keeping your computer’s system updated and free from virus. More than improving its aesthetics, a clean computer means enhanced overall performance.

The sad part is that many PC owners do not realize the advantages of keeping PC components physically clean.

If you end up with a thick layer of dust build-up at the bottom of your PC’s interior, it’s time to make cleaning a habit. Regularly cleaning your computer, including the integral components such as the graphics card will benefit you in the long run.

In this guide, we will enumerate the best practices, recommended tools, and step-by-step guide on how to clean your computer’s graphic card.

Investing time in cleaning your PC’s graphics card will definitely go a long way in keeping it fully functional and reliable so you can avoid unnecessary expenses, too. If you are a gamer, and has spent hundreds if not thousands on graphics cards after reviewing all the graphics card hierarchies on the planet, you will know what we really mean!

graphics card being cleaned

The Most Important Tools and Best Practices When Cleaning the Graphics Card

The tools that we have listed down are used to clean not only the graphics card but other sensitive components of a PC system:

  • A screwdriver is needed since you will be taking apart the components of the graphics card into smaller pieces.
  • Canned compressed air is mandatory since it can blow off dust build-up at a faster rate than using a damp cloth or Q-tips.
  • Q-tips for nooks and crannies that hard to reach. This is the next best thing to a can with compressed air.
  • Isopropyl alcohol as it easily removes dust and dirty, as well as disinfects the critical components inside your PC.
  • A cleaning cloth will give a nice finishing touch after all the dust build-up is removed from the graphics card and its surrounding components.
  • Thermal paste will keep the GPU cool without overheating and overclocking.

Before you proceed to clean your PC’s graphics card, make sure to unplug it from its main power source and flip the power switch off as an extra safety measure.

Related: How Long Do Gaming Laptops Last?

general PC cleaning

General PC components cleaning guide

It doesn’t make sense to clean the graphics card if the other surrounding components and important PC parts are left uncleaned.

And in order to implement a thorough clean of the graphics card and other internal pieces, do not forget to disconnect them from the larger parts such as the motherboard and power supply.

When cleaning the graphics card, compressed air in a can or an air compressor will be your primary cleaning tool. If there is caked-on dust and dirt, you can use a Q-tip with isopropyl alcohol to rub them away.

You can clean other computer parts with a damp cloth or cloth with small amounts of isopropyl alcohol. A Q-tip is the best tool to reliably clean hard-to-reach places.

The only internal PC components that you should never clean or take apart is the hard drive and power supply. If you disassemble and then clean these components, their respective warranties will be voided altogether.

In addition, cleaning integral PC components such as the power supply may cause serious harm to yourself.

You should never forget cleaning the graphics card’s corresponding motherboard slot. You can efficiently clean this slot using compressed air.

computer repair

Here is a step-by-step guide if this is your first time cleaning the graphics card

  1. Step 1- Disassemble the card.

For proper and efficient cleaning of the graphics card, it is a must to dismantle it into smaller pieces:

  • To begin disassembly, you must first remove the screws that hold the car’s rear heat or reinforcement plate securely in place.
  • Using a screwdriver, remove the two smaller screws that connect the fan to the heat sink.
  • Remove the four remaining smaller screws that secure the spring-loaded heat sink mount.
  • Be careful in disassembling the graphics card once the screws are removed. The majority of the graphics card are covered with sticky thermal pads and other types of thermal interface materials that function as adhesives. If the graphics card is covered in thermal pads on all sides, be extra careful when pulling the card apart to avoid any severe damage on its crucial components.
  • When detaching the reinforcement chip away from the card, make sure to use steady pressure. Use a similar prying technique when removing the heat sink and the fan cover.
  • Do not forget to detach the fan from the port that connects it to the printed circuit board or PCB.

Step 2 - Proceed to clean and reassembly of the graphics card.

  • Once your graphics card is taken apart into smaller pieces, it then becomes easier and faster to clean the components.
  • Put the thermal paste on all the points where the graphics card was disassembled. Make sure to only use a small layer of paste across the anterior portion that you want to cool down.
  • On a standard graphics card, make sure to check the condition of the four springs attached to a clip made from metal is connected to the heat sink over the GPU. The clip and its accompanying four springs become disfigured and loose over time. These issues can reduce the pressure to the GPU, which may potentially lead to the graphics card running hot fast. To remedy this issue, gently bend the bracket in an upward direction and slowly bend the springs out.
  • Once the springs and the brackets are completely bent and extended out, reseat the heat sink to the GPU. For best results, the heat sink should be in solid contact with the GPU. Lastly, the spring-loaded mount should be screwed in firmly.

Step 3 - Screw the fan cover to the case bracket.

Step 4 - Reassemble by screwing the card’s rear reinforcement plate back on.

Step 5 - Test if the graphics card and GPU are in good working condition.

  • Plug the GPU into the computer.
  • Attach the monitor to the video port on the GPU.
    Turn on the computer and the screen. If you receive signals, then the graphics card and GPU are working properly
  • Check that the fan is working correctly by making sure that it is spinning. If the fan is not spinning, remove all power and allow the fan it dry more before testing it a second time.

After cleaning with the right tools and technique, you will notice that your PC runs more quietly and extend the functionality of your graphics card and other crucial interior computer components.

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