Give Your Old Laptop A New Graphics Card With These DIY Kits

Give Your Old Laptop a New Graphics Card With These DIY Kits

Thinking about buying a new gaming laptop? Hold up: you might not need to. A new graphics card could breathe new life into your old machine — and now it's easy to actually buy one you can install yourself.

Technically, you've been able to swap out your laptop's GPU for a newer chip for some time now — it's just difficult to find compatible hardware on the open market. Gaming and high performance laptop graphics come on special MXM modules that are usually only available to corporate clients. Now, PC maker Eurocom is selling them to consumers directly. If you're willing to get your hands dirty, you could upgrade your laptop on the cheap.

Well, relatively cheap. Outfitting an Alienware 17 with a newfangled Nvidia GTX 970M GPU will set you back $US750 — but that's still half as much as it would cost to buy a new model with the same graphics chip.

Right now, Eurocom has upgrade kits for a handful of recent Alienware and Clevo laptops that will see them sporting GTX 880M, 970M and 980M GPUs, and there's even a couple of $US2000 setups that will outfit your machine with a dual-GPU 980M SLI configuration. Perfect if you don't mind ripping open your machine. If you do? Well, you could just send your laptop in — Eurocom installs components, too. [Eurocom via CNET]



    can you do this to a macbook?

      Nope, only a very few select laptops, see here:
      However, I am running an external thunderbolt box with an graphics card in it on my macbook pro, works a treat.

        I'm interested about the external setup for your MacBook. Given the high cost of everything thunderbolt I have seen so far, was it stupidly expensive? Is it something you pieced together yourself or was it a ready made product?

        Last edited 13/02/15 3:30 pm

      No, it only applies to cheap PCs used for useless, juvenile, time-sapping unproductive activities such as gaming. You probably don't need the GPU upgrade for real work. Public servants may need it so they can browse Facebook faster however.

      Yes you can actually, but the degree of difficulty depends on the end result you require. Simply putting an MXM card with PC BIOS in the slot will work with Nvidia cards, but you won't get access to the boot screen and will have to wait until OS X loads its video drivers until the display comes online (just before the login screen). Unless a video card with the same vendor and device ID has been used in another Mac model somewhere, you'll need to add your new card's particulars to the info.plist files inside the relevant AMD kexts to deliver the same functionality with any of their offerings. If having no boot screen is not an option (it's a risky strategy), then you need to find either an MXM card with Apple EFI on board already (expensive), or one matching the specs of a card that Apple's shipped in an iMac or MacBook Pro in the past, along with a dump of the ROM from the Apple supplied version. Then you simply flash the card. Describing the process in a single sentence is more to avoid reviving painful memories in those that have attempted this than a reflection of what's actually required. A true masochist will buy a random PC part and spend days, if not weeks, constructing their own EFI specifically tailored to their new card using information available at, but I don't know anyone who hates themselves that much.

    Given a lot of laptops have BIOS based approved device lists, I don't see this becoming common. I can't even put a new Wireless AC card in my 1.5 year old Lenovo as it's not an approved device.

    Thanks for doing this article!

    I preformed an upgrade on my Alienware M17x R3 last year upgrading my 6990m to the beasty (at the time) 8970m. Breathed new life into my gaming notebook.

    There's a few brands that it is compatible for.

    Alienware M17x R2, R3, R4 (Up to the GTX 780m and AMD 8970m confirmed. All further advances haven't been successful yet)
    Alienware M17 R1 (R2 is not compatible as they now solder the cards on the board)
    A few of the smaller models are compatible aswell.

    Metabox laptops can do it however I'm unsure of the models

    MSI laptops can do it however I'm unsure of the models.

    There are other providers than just Eurocom

    Good luck to anyone attempting this.

    This has been available since 2007

    source: i own an Asus C90s

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