Alternative graphics card location – benefit or harm

Now the computer has become an integral part of life for most people, but what if you are tired of the appearance of an iron friend? Someone is trying to cram as much backlighting as possible, someone buys unusual cases. One of the most high-profile options is to install a video card vertically. But what pitfalls does it have? Let’s figure it out.

Differences between vertical and horizontal video card installation
Horizontal mounting of a video card is a classic type of installation, time-tested. When installed horizontally, the fans are directed towards the bottom of the case and this air pocket is sufficient for good air circulation.A vertical GPU setup looks great in large part because the fan shroud is the most beautiful and recognizable part of a graphics card. It is worth saying that now many video cards have backlighting, which is why people often put it vertically.

All pros and cons of vertical installation
As sad as this may sound, the vertical arrangement of the video card has practically no advantages. There are two benefits:

Enhancing PC aesthetics: With a vertical installation, you can fully enjoy the beauty of the GPU. Most video cards now come with integrated RGB lighting, which has a positive effect on the visual experience. Thus, vertical installation will make the PC more stylish.
The distribution of the weight balance of the video card: if the video card has a massive radiator, then when mounted horizontally, it will bend and break the PCI-E slot of the motherboard or its PCI-E connector. To prevent this from happening, you will have to buy a video card holder. With vertical mounting, this is not the case, since the bulk of the weight falls on the bracket.

Unfortunately, there is no tangible benefit from vertical mounting, and when considering the minuses, all the positive aspects come to naught:

May interfere with other expansion slots: if you have a thin enough graphics card, this most likely will not happen, but a graphics processor with a massive heatsink will interfere. In addition to the video card, this depends on the mounting bracket, the variations of which will be discussed later.
It has a negative effect on the temperature of the video card: this is the main drawback of a vertical installation. Placing the graphics card vertically will cause it to be too close to the side of the case, which will obstruct airflow and cause the temperature of the GPU to rise, which will negatively affect its performance.
High cost: If a special bracket is not supplied with the case, you will have to buy it. In addition to the bracket, you will need a special riser (what it is – we will describe it later).
Consequences of vertical installation
As already mentioned, the vertical mounting of the video card negatively affects its temperature, but is it all that bad?

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Airflow restriction or Breathe, my M.2
If the graphics card has air cooling, the side panel may obstruct air exchange. This can be avoided if the case is adapted for vertical installation of the graphics adapter, that is, if it is wide enough and there are perforations on the rear panel for air to enter the case.

The vertical mount also has a positive side. Thanks to it, there is more air for the lower M.2 slots, which has a positive effect on their temperature.

Increasing the temperature of the video card
As the temperature rises, the GPU software starts to slow down the clock speed to reduce the load. This negatively affects the performance of the video card. As a rule, the effect is not very noticeable and this option can be disabled in software, but in FPS games, where every frame counts, their sharp drawdown can greatly spoil the overall impression.

In addition to degrading performance, high temperatures reduce the lifespan of the GPU. This is the biggest problem with vertical mounting. Each video card has its own temperature limit, which can be viewed on the manufacturer’s website, and if the temperature of your video card is at or above the limit, it will accelerate the degradation of GPU chips. Physics cannot be fooled, therefore, before death from degradation, a malfunction of the soldering may occur due to repeated heating and cooling cycles.

What you need for vertical installation
To install a graphics card vertically, you need two things:

In stores: in 2 stores
Also, your enclosure must support this function. The bracket may not be needed if the chassis already has a dedicated mounting location.

What is a riser and does it affect performance
In simple terms, a riser is an extension cable for a video card. One end of the riser connects to the PCI-E connector for the motherboard, and the other, directly to the video card.

A reasonable question immediately arises: does the video card lose performance when connected to a riser? The answer is no, it does not. More detailed tests are presented in the video:

Here you can clearly see that the difference in performance is so negligible that you won’t even notice it. Of course, if you try to save on the riser, then this difference can greatly increase, and then the performance will drop.

Bracket types
A bracket is required to mount the graphics card vertically. They are of three types:

Vertical expansion slots – brackets built into the chassis
Pros:

Cons:
– Critical air volume for a video card, because it is very close to the glass.

Bracket for horizontal expansion slots (CableMod); This category is further divided into two: “bare” brackets, brackets with a riser.
Pros:
+Maximum air volume for the video card.
+Sufficient air volume for M.2 slots (more than horizontal mount).

Cons:
-Completely covers the horizontal expansion slots (the bracket is attached to them).

Bare bracket

Riser panel that attaches to the PSU shroud in the chassis.
Pros:
+Sufficient air volume for M.2 slots (this parameter may vary depending on the mounting location).

Cons:
-Critical air volume for the video card (this parameter may vary depending on the mounting location).
-Can overlap horizontal expansion slots.

Installation
If the case has vertical expansion slots, then everything is simple: you need to remove the caps and put the video card there. Everything is exactly the same as with horizontal installation, only the video card will not be inserted into the motherboard, but connected to the riser.

If there are no vertical expansion slots, then in addition to the riser, you will have to buy an additional bracket. If you decide to buy the latest version of the bracket, then make sure that the casing has holes for screws, as well as vertical expansion slots.

If you like CableMod, then things are a little more complicated. First, you will have to unscrew most of the caps, then screw the video card to the bracket and only after that attach the bracket to the case. More details are shown in this video:

This mounting option is my favorite, and after buying a new video card, I will also place it vertically in this way.

Outcome
It cannot be denied that a vertical video card mount looks much cooler than a horizontal one, but this has a number of its drawbacks. If you are serious, but do not want to put up with the shortcomings, then there are two ways of development:

1. The above described CableMod.

2. A very expensive option – placing a water block on a video card. This means that you have to buy a liquid cooling system. Since the cooling here does not depend on the air flow, this is the most reasonable option, but for a lot of money.

Beauty requires sacrifices – and these victims will be either a violation of the temperature regime of a video card, or a disruption in the operation of horizontal expansion slots, or a violation of the volume of your wallet. But in return you will receive aesthetic pleasure for every day.

As mentioned above, I am ready to put up with this and in the future I will install my video card vertically.