PC Components

What Does a Backplate Do for a GPU?

Computer Graphics Card

While the backplate for a GPU is mainly used to improve aesthetics, secondary benefits include:

  • Increased coverage
  • Reduced GPU sag
  • Easier dust management
  • Heat dissipation

A GPU backplate is not necessary, and some GPUs have an integrated backplate to help you cut costs. This article explores the benefits of adding a backplate to your GPU.

Keep reading to learn how adding a backplate can improve your setup and whether it is worth the cost.

GPU Backplates for Aesthetics

Before anything else, GPU backplates cater to aesthetic appeal. All other benefits are secondary, and the primary purpose of a backplate is to cover up or dress up the GPU for a more attractive build.

You’ve probably noticed GPUs steering in this direction, with sleeker designs and RGB lighting. Backplates intend to build on top of this, offering their coverage to create a more consistent look.

You usually find backplates in the same, if not similar, materials used for GPUs. Several backplates are available with RGB lighting built-in, and lighting enthusiasts are likely to snatch those off the shelves.

Materials

Most GPU backplates are made of:

  • Aluminum,
  • Stainless steel,
  • Acrylic.

The material you seek depends on what your GPU already looks like.

Most backplates are aluminum. Aluminum is a cheaper material, but it works well to cover the GPU and create a more cohesive theme in the build.

Stainless steel backplates offer the same benefits, but they have more weight. This is important to know if you want to keep your build light or if you want to use the backplate to keep weight off other components.

Acrylic GPU backplates open the door for more creativity in a build. You can create unique images and displays by utilizing the clear nature of acrylic, although you relinquish some of the practical benefits of metal.

Size

Backplates typically match the size of the GPU, but it is not uncommon to find them larger than the GPU. Finding a backplate smaller than the GPU is not unheard of, but this negates the primary purposes for adding a backplate to your GPU.

A larger backplate is helpful in blocking out unsightly components around the GPU or maintaining visual balance. Depending on the material, a larger backplate also benefits heat management.

GPU Backplates for Stability

Stability is not the primary purpose of a backplate for a GPU, but adding one to your build usually helps keep the GPU more stable.

This is more noticeable in larger GPUs that surpass the surface space of the CPU. A backplate adds an extra level of stability to keep the GPU secured.

The backplate can also prevent the graphics card from sagging in its PCIe slot. Some GPUs come with large, heavy coolers that drag them down in a build. The sagging may not be an immediate concern, but it leads to issues such as screen glitches or stuttering over time.

Dust Coverage

Even if your build does not need extra stability, adding a backplate to the GPU is excellent to manage dust buildup. This is one of the simplest ways to keep dust off the back of the card, and you’ll find that cleaning goes by much faster and easier.

Backplates are much easier to clean than all the nooks and crannies of the GPU, and if you can get most of the dust onto the smooth surface of the backplate, then a simple swipe is often sufficient.

This does not eliminate the need for a deeper clean, but it facilitates a system that is easier to keep clean and stable.

GPU Backplates for Heat Management

A backplate is not the end-all for heat management, but you can always use one to help.

Graphics cards accomplish a lot for a single component. They need to receive binary data from the CPU, process it, and transform it into the proper images. This goes above and beyond the work done by an integrated graphics card, and the GPU needs to perform these tasks at top speed.

This alone leads to an environment in which the GPU heats up quickly, and most GPUs have a dedicated cooling system designed to keep them at the proper temperature.

In most cases, a GPU backplate is not needed for heat management. It may not be able to drop the temperature more than 1°C.

The backplate can help by dissipating heat, spreading it out so that the fans and other components do not need to worry about centralized heat.

Backplates as “Passive” Heat Sinks

Metal backplates (aluminum and stainless steel) work well to distribute the heat of a GPU. This does not get rid of the heat, but it helps stabilize temperature and create a scenario where the fans can better control it.

Remember that a backplate is not equal to a proper cooling system; you can go without the backplate, but the cooling system is essential to proper computer health.

An actual heat sink can reduce twice the amount of heat as a backplate, regardless of its size or material. Using a backplate as a passive heat sink is an additional benefit of its aesthetic and stabilizing features.

Do You Need a Backplate for a GPU?

While there are benefits to adding a backplate to the GPU, this is not a necessary component.

The most enticing benefit of a backplate is its aesthetic appeal. A backplate is usually at the bottom of a priority list when building on a budget. This is why most parts stores label backplates as accessories.

If you can afford to add a backplate, there are plenty of options out there to improve the visual construction of your build. Take the time to choose one that works for your style and fits your GPU.

Any additional benefits, including stability and heat management, are secondary, and they are not significant enough to affect your decision. There are many other parts that you can add that have a more substantial impact on those areas.

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