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How To Clean A Graphics Card (Step-By-Step DIY Guide)

When it comes to taking care of your PC, cleaning is one of the most important and overlooked steps. Your graphics card, in particular, needs to remain as dust-free as possible for maximum performance. Looking to learn how to clean a graphics card? We have all you know to know down below. 

If it's time for an upgrade, you can check out our favorite GPUs here.

If you find that your PC is getting overheated on the regular, you may need to clean your graphics card, along with the other internal parts. It is recommended by experts that you clean your graphics card every four months or so, but it is easy to let cleaning fall to the wayside. 

What happens if you don’t clean it? You may encounter some of the following issues more frequently: 

  • Gradual PC slow down 
  • Sudden shutdowns 
  • Higher temperatures 
  • Shorter lifespan for your PC 

Cleaning your dusty GPU will not make your PC immortal, but it can help it do its job right.  

asus graphics card

How To Clean A Graphics Card (Safely With Disassembling)

1. List of Tools Needed 

  • Small Phillips Screwdriver  
    A screwdriver can help you open your PC for cleaning and remove smaller parts. 
  • Compressed Air  
    Compressed air is an efficient way to remove dust from small electronic parts. Be careful to only use short bursts and keep the can at an angle while in use. 
  • Lint-Free Cloth  
    A lint-free cloth can help clean the surface of your parts and remove dried thermal paste if necessary. 
  • Thermal Paste  
    Having some nearby can mean that you can replace your paste immediately without needing to open your PC back up later. 
  • Circlip Pliers  
    Circlip pliers can help remove power cords or other parts if necessary. 
  • Soft brush  
    A soft paint or toothbrush can help you get into those nooks and crannies where dust lurks. 
  • Isopropyl alcohol  
    Having this alcohol on hand makes removing dried thermal paste and stubborn residue easier. 
  • Q-Tips  
    As with the paint or toothbrush, a Q-Tip can get into small spots that are hard to clean or reach. 

2. Step-By-Step Instructions 

  1. 1
    Turn off the PC and remove it from a power source. 
  2. 2
    Click the on/off switch a few times to remove excess static. 
  3. 3
    Wait for the fans to stop spinning before continuing. 
  4. 4
    Move your PC to a non-carpeted, clean, well-ventilated area and put on a face mask. 
  5. 5
    Open the back of your PC according to manual instructions with the Phillips screwdriver. 
  6. 6
    Disassemble the card according to manual instructions. This typically involves unscrewing the ones holding it to the case and mounting bracket. You may need to move a lever to get it free – check your manual for details on how to correctly do that.  
  7. 7
    Clean your fan with a brush or Q-Tip and unscrew it if possible. 
  8. 8
    Clean your dirty graphics card with a paintbrush or Q-Tip. 
  9. 9
    Unplug the fan from its power source with the pliers. 
  10. 10
    Clean the heatsink using compressed air and Q-Tips dipped in alcohol. If you need to replace the thermal paste, you can find details on how to do so in our article here. 
  11. 11
    Clean any other internal parts with your equipment. 
  12. 12
    Reassemble according to manual instructions. 
  13. 13
    Test if the graphics card and GPU are working well and if everything was assembled correctly.  
republic of gamers graphics card

How To Clean A Graphics Card Without Unmounting

To clean a graphics card without removing it, you will need to use the same tools above and do the following: 

  1. 1
    Turn off the PC and remove it from a power source. 
  2. 2
    Click the on/off switch a few times to remove excess static. 
  3. 3
    Wait for the fans to stop spinning before continuing. 
  4. 4
    Move your PC to a non-carpeted, clean, well-ventilated area and put on a face mask. 
  5. 5
    Open the back of your PC according to manual instructions with the Phillips screwdriver. 
  6. 6
    Clean the areas that you can with a combination of compressed air, cloth dipped in alcohol, and Q-Tips dipped in alcohol. 
  7. 7
    Clean your fan with a brush or Q-Tip and unscrew it if possible. 
  8. 8
    Clean your dirty graphics card with a paintbrush or Q-Tip. 
  9. 9
    Clean any other internal parts with your equipment. 
  10. 10
    Reassemble according to manual instructions. 
  11. 11
    Test if the graphics card and GPU are working well and if everything was assembled correctly.  

Experts recommend cleaning your computer's graphics card every 4-6 months and changing your thermal paste every 2-3 years. If you tend to forget, put a recurring event in your calendar to ensure you don’t forget when it's time.  

grpahics card with red led lights

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Can you clean a graphics card with water? 

We do not recommend cleaning your graphics card with water. Water can damage electronic parts; isopropyl alcohol dries quickly and is less likely to damage parts. 

Is it safe to vacuum your PC? 

We do not recommend using a household vacuum to remove dust as its strong suction could damage or suck up vital computer parts. The compressed can of air is a smaller and easier to control alternative when cleaning and maintaining your PC. 


Conclusion

The graphics card is a vital part of your PC, especially for those interested in gaming and other high processing activities. Take proper care of your gaming laptop through regular graphics card maintenance, and it should keep running for years to come.