Last updated on October 26th, 2023 at 03:53 pm
Building a PC is already as difficult as it is. You don’t end up building your computer just to realize that your GPU doesn’t fit inside of your computer.
GPU size is something you should really consider when building a computer because it will determine your cooling, compatibility, and performance.
Over the years GPU sizes have been getting bigger and bigger, which means they are getting more powerful through performance and require a better cooling system.
Understanding GPU Dimensions
The first thing you need to understand when purchasing a GPU are the dimensions of it.
GPUs are created in different sizes, which will affect the cooling, compatibility, and performance of the GPU you purchase.
When looking for the size and dimension of the graphics card you want to buy, it will be measured in mm using length, width, and height/depth.
It is very important to know the dimensions of the GPU you want for compatibility reasons.
Starting off with the length of a GPU.
Length is the most important measurement to consider when purchasing a GPU because it’s what affects case compatibility the most. If the GPU is too long it can create complications inside of your pc build.
However, you should also note that the length of your GPU is determined by the number of fans, heatsink design, and PCB layout. This plays an important role in your GPU’s performance.
For this reason, you might notice that the longer the GPU the more powerful it is. Many compact GPUs are around 150mm in length, while high-performance ones can be around 300mm.
Width plays an important role with compact builds, especially when you have a small case. Very wide GPUs won’t be compatible with compact builds because it will prevent you from closing your case.
In order to avoid this check the dimensions of your computer case first before you purchase the GPU of your choice.
However, you should also consider things such as the power connectors, backplates, and other designs that will take up more space inside your PC essentially making the graphics card wider than advertised.
There have been cases where I’ve seen a graphics card fit just perfectly inside a compact computer case, but they weren’t able to power the GPU because the connector couldn’t fit between the case and the GPU.
The depth can also vary in size. This usually depends on the amount of slots the GPU takes up.
Most GPUs are what you consider 2-slot GPUs, but there are also 2.5 or 3-slot GPUs as well. This tells you the amount of PCIe slots it will take up on the motherboard.
More powerful cooling systems usually make the depth of your CPU bigger, a bigger cooling system also means a heavier GPU which can cause something called GPU sag, but will also give you a higher overclocking potential as well.
Factors Influencing GPU Size
- Cooling Mechanisms:
- The GPU cooling solution influences the size of the GPU the most. Starting off, GPUs come with either single, dual, or triple fan cooling. Considering that a fan can be between 60mm and 100mm you can see how that can take up some space.
- Performance Capabilities:
- The performance capability of the GPU also impacts its size as well. Higher-end GPUs are manufactured with more transistors and extra VRAM. This means the manufacturers will need a larger PCB resulting in a larger GPU.
- Additional Features:
- Additional features such as RGB lighting, backplates, and decorations, add to the size of your GPU. A lot of higher-end graphics cards that are already a pretty good size just add on to it by adding other fancy decorations as well.
Benefits of Compact GPUs
- Compatibility with Small Form Factor (SFF) Builds:
- Compact GPUs are ideal for SFF computer builds. When building a compact computer oftentimes it can be hard to find the parts you want performance-wise, while still having compatibility.
You should Also Read: “GPU Form Factors” To Learn More.
- Having a more compact GPU makes your computer more portable. A smaller GPU means a smaller and lighter computer. Therefore, bringing your computer to LAN events, or vacation just became a lot easier.
- Lower Power Consumption:
- Smaller GPUs are often more power efficient because there is less hardware to power. A smaller GPU means fewer fans, fewer transistors, and less power.
Challenges With Large GPUs
- Fitting Issues:
- Due to the size of both the length and width of a large GPU, it can cause compatibility issues with certain computer cases. If you are looking for a computer case that is compatible with your GPU then you will need to look for a case that is at least ATX size or above. However, if you decide to go with a more compact GPU, then you will be able to use any case you want.
- A larger GPU can also lead to problems with other components inside of the PC. Certain motherboards will have compatibility issues. Drive bays attached to your case might have to be removed as well.
- Increased Weight:
- The larger a GPU is the more it weighs. This can lead to problems such as GPU sag. Even though GPU sag doesn’t usually cause problems, it can be annoying to look at. If the sag gets really bad it can also cause problems with both the motherboard and the GPU.
- Additional support brackets will be needed to support the weight of the GPU if the GPU sag becomes tooo much. This will add extra cost, as well as take up more space inside of your computer case. (that rhymed!)
GPU Compatibility With Motherboards
GPU size can also determine whether the GPU is compatible with the motherboard are not.
If you take a look at your motherboard you can see that there are many different PCI slots, the most common ones being PCIe 3.0 and 4.0.
You should also note that the amount of space you have around the PCIe slot is also very important. The connecting points to different components and wires will differ depending on the motherboard you purchase.
Smaller motherboards that have other components connecting close to the PCIe slots, might make your GPU incompatible with it..