The debate about the necessity of GPU support brackets to deal with GPU “sag” is very common. It’s understandable, given not only how expensive mid-to-high-end graphics cards can be, but also how large they’re getting with each iteration. That size increase naturally leads to a weight increase, which leads to the dreaded sag problem that has PC builders fearing the worst-case scenario.
GPU sag is exactly what it sounds like. PC building, despite being largely focused on getting great performance out of certain software, is also a vanity project. Hobbyists and practical builders often set their rigs up for style and functionality, which explains the frankly ridiculous amount of RGB lighting we’re seeing on PC hardware these days. In most setups, the computer’s motherboard is positioned to that its connectors run vertically, for style and space-saving reasons. With this configuration, components like the graphics card are often plugged in sideways, instead of attaching to the base of the chassis. That positioning is what leads to the issue of GPU sag and compels people to purchase a support bracket.
Why You Probably Don’t Need A GPU Support Bracket
GPU brackets do what one would expect – give your graphics card something on which to rest, so it’s not only relying on the I/O connection to avoid falling out of place. It’s a smart bit of insurance that can also have the added benefit of looking cool, but it’s not a strict requirement. For many reasons, most people’s GPUs are going to be fine without any extra support.
This is one of those cases where you’ll usually get what you pay for. GPU sag is most often a concern on the more expensive GPUs because they also tend to be the ones with the largest, cooling systems. Fortunately, the pricier graphics cards from Nvidia and AMD are often built with gravity in mind. Most new cards are engineered to distribute their weight in a way that should mean you won’t need a support bracket. They’re reinforced on their connection points, equipped with lightweight fans, and condensed enough so that this shouldn’t be an issue. It’s an intentional design consideration.
Furthermore, GPU sag is often related to the mounting process itself, rather than the integrity of the card’s design. In many online discussions on the topic, people report having swapped to a different case and noticed their GPU didn’t sag at all. Some amount of tilt is almost unavoidable depending on your case and how things are mounted, but an extreme sag that could cause serious damage is unlikely with today’s modern hardware.
Deciding to get a GPU support bracket will ultimately depend on a few factors. While a small amount of sag is fine, anything more than that is a cause of concern and will require a GPU bracket to avoid issues like overheating and damage to the case. If extreme sag isn’t a factor, but a user wants a GPU bracket for peace of mind, they will need to ensure that they have enough room in their PC case for a bracket to actually fit. Cost isn’t really a big consideration, given that you can get a GPU support bracket for between $10 and $15. In fact, some high-end GPUs even include a bracket in the retail box, eliminating the need to buy a third-party option.
If you only notice mild GPU sag, you probably don’t need to get a GPU bracket at all. Additionally, there’s also the risk that some brackets can compromise a GPU’s airflow, which only adds to the reasons you may want to try your setup without one first… unless you already know you want more pretty lights.
GPU Support Bracket Options
For when the sag needs to be addressed, users can choose from several options available on Amazon. The upHere graphics card brace is super cheap at just $9.99. The brace fits horizontally into the case, provided there’s at least one expansion slot available under the GPU. The bracket comes with sliding rubber pads that can be adjusted around the GPU’s cooling fans. While the brand claims the bracket is compatible with most motherboards and cases, a disclaimer states that it may not work with the 2070, 3060, 3070, 3080, 3090, and 6900 series GPUs since these cards might require a vertical holder.
Those looking for a vertical GPU brace can check out the nkomax GPU stand, which is priced at $13.99. Made of aluminum, the adjustable stand features a screw design to make it taller or shorter, depending on the setup. There’s also a magnet in the base which should make for a more sturdy fit. The top, on the other hand, has a cushioned pad to prevent scratching. While the brace is strong enough to support a heavy GPU, those with a taller case might need to look at other options since the nkomax brace isn’t very long.
Source: Amazon 1, 2