The graphics cards have a protective case called a backplate. Made of aluminum, acrylic, or stained steel, they feature humorous and stylish designs. What else can a backplate for a GPU do besides improve its visual appeal, even if it’s customizable?
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The primary purpose of a backplate is to conceal the GPU’s back, and any other “features” it may have are merely cosmetic additions or byproducts of the components used to create it. In addition, they can strengthen the GPU’s framework and aid in heat dissipation.
It is possible to prevent the heatsink of the processor from damaging the motherboard by using a backplate, a metal piece typically used to cover the back of a graphics card. While their primary function is cosmetic, backplates serve additional functions for graphics cards.
What Is a Backplate?
An aluminum, acrylic, or stained steel backplate is a decorative accessory for covering the rear of a graphics card. While these are designed primarily for aesthetic purposes, they can also be used to keep your graphics card from tipping over. Additionally, backplates can distribute heat, and the backplate itself can serve as a cover to shield the graphics card from the environment.
A backplate provides structural integrity and support for the video cards. Graphics cards are expansion cards with an in-built graphics processor, and they help speed up the process of converting binary data into images for display. In reality, the graphics card is only one component in the chain of events that culminates in an image being displayed on a screen. Along with the motherboard, CPU, RAM, and display, a graphics card completes a computer.
Depending on the type of graphics card, the graphics card performs most or all of the tasks related to the output of images. A graphics card’s primary function is to interpret the binary data passed from various applications and render the results as images.
It takes more time to create a 3D image because a wireframe must be made of straight lines before the image can be filled in with pixels and given depth, color, lighting, or shadows; and this is done at a rate of 6 times per second or more!
Therefore, graphics cards can be either integrated or dedicated. An integrated graphics card is part of the central processing unit (CPU), communicates with the rest of the computer’s memory, and is typically designed to handle only the most fundamental of applications and tasks. Many laptops today feature onboard video cards, which can be difficult to upgrade or even impossible in some cases.
In contrast, a dedicated graphics card is a separate piece of hardware that is connected to the central processing unit; these cards interact with the CPU’s random access memory (RAM) and can handle more intensive tasks. There are three primary elements that make up a graphics processing unit: the motherboard, the processor, and the memory.
These graphics adapters are essentially their own GPUs and are used to boost image quality during rendering. They are integral to the computations of 3D graphics and speed up the processing of 2D images. Since a GPU processes data at such a high rate, simultaneously analyzing it and transforming it into images, it generates a lot of heat and requires a cooling system.
The installation of the backplates occurs at this stage. To be sure, backplates are there for more than just looks. First, when the GPU is larger than the CPU’s surface area, the backplate secures the GPU and provides additional stability.
Furthermore, it can function as a cooling object, soaking up some of the heat generated by the GPU. In addition to their practicality, backplates can improve the aesthetics of a device.
How Does a GPU Backplate Work?
The primary benefit of a backplate for a graphics card is improved aesthetics, but there are additional benefits as well. For a GPU, a backplate serves three purposes: stability, cooling, and form.
When the size of a graphics processing unit (GPU) exceeds the available space in a central processing unit (CPU), a backplate can provide additional support for the GPU, protecting it from potential damage.
The central processing unit (CPU) sends binary data to the graphics card, which converts it into visual information. The graphics card is responsible for creating the image based on instructions from the central processing unit (CPU).
To generate the image displayed on the screen, the graphics card follows a set of instructions detailing how to process, divide, and analyze the data at its disposal. Since graphics cards perform all these operations at such a high clock rate, they quickly become hot, and a backplate can help dissipate some of that heat.
A backplate can help cool down the graphics cards, but it can’t fully replace a heatsink. Additionally, they balance out the heatsink’s mass and provide the graphics card with much-needed stability.
Last but not least, the backplanes’ visual appeal. While backplanes can provide some stability for the graphics cards, I believe their primary function is to improve the GPU’s aesthetics.
If users choose to upgrade their GPUs themselves, the results can look rough around the edges. A backplane, however, can hide all of that, giving the GPUs a more polished, professional appearance.
How Hot Does a GPU Backplate Get?
It is normal for a backplate to reach temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Celsius. Backplates soak up the heat released by the graphics card’s memory chips and processors, and modern electronic components can withstand temperatures as high as 260 degrees Celsius without being damaged. Therefore, backplates aid in dispersing GPU heat.
The heat transfer properties of metal make backplates ideal for protecting your graphics cards. The backplate’s extended length and metal construction provide thermal stability and “control” for the graphics cards. Therefore, the material of the backplate will determine the rate of heat dissipation. However, a backplate can never replace a proper cooling system in terms of effectiveness.
The backplate serves its intended purpose as a passive heatsink, though it is not nearly as effective at its job as a true heatsink would be. Backplates, I will say, do not dissipate heat as much as they spread or distribute it. To effectively dissipate heat, backplates require fan coolers.
Do Backplates help to dissipate the heat of the GPUs?
Aluminum is the most common material for backplates, though stainless steel and acrylic are also used. It is common knowledge that certain metals can aid in the removal of heat from electronic components; in fact, aluminum heatsinks and fans are used in conventional air-cooling systems for this purpose.
Backplates made of aluminum are only effective at lowering graphics card temperatures by 1 or 2 degrees Celsius, so they serve more of a distributive purpose than a dissipative one. But if you put a fan in front of the backplate, you’ll get real heat dissipation.
Instead of stainless steel, aluminum is frequently used in heatsinks. In terms of thermal conductivity, pure aluminum outperforms stainless steel by a factor of 15 (235 watts per kelvin per meter vs. 15 watts per kelvin per meter).
Therefore, aluminum backplates aid in heat dissipation. Backplates can serve as a cooling system when paired with a fan, and when combined with a heatsink, they can aid in reducing the temperature of the GPUs.
Backplates are purely cosmetic and serve no functional purpose in terms of heat dissipation.
Backplates as Passive Heatsink
Passive heatsinks use a backplate to accomplish their primary function of heat transfer without the use of a fan. So, even when specifically designed for this purpose, backplates can serve as a passive heatsink.
Aluminum is commonly used for backplates because of its high thermal conductivity and low weight. Therefore, backplates are similar to passive heatsinks in more ways than just aluminum. Passive heatsinks are placed directly over the hot component, using their large surface area to absorb the heat.
Passive heatsinks, on the other hand, have a unique shape that is designed to facilitate more efficient heat dissipation. Flat backplates only work to lower temperatures by a degree or two Celsius, while real heatsinks can cut temperatures by four or five degrees. While backplates do serve a small role as passive heatsinks, their primary function is to aid in the distribution and reduction of GPU heat.
Does a Graphics Card Need a Backplate?
Despite their designation as an accessory, backplates are not essential and serve primarily to “improve” the graphics card’s aesthetics. The primary function of a backplate is to protect the graphics card, but it also has secondary functions like heat dissipation and structural integrity.
The solid surface of backplates provides the GPU with stability in terms of both weight and structural integrity. In addition, aluminum backplates are effective heat dissipation devices because their long surface absorbs and resists high temperatures; this means that a fan can be placed directly in front of the backplates to further facilitate heat dissipation.
In addition, the backplate provides a shield against liquids and other contaminants that can damage the graphics processing unit (GPU) from the rear.
What Does a Backplate Do for a GPU?
Putting aside their cosmetic value, backplates can provide GPU rigidity and act as a passive heatsink. The backplate’s primary function, however, cannot be denied: concealing the opposite sides of the graphics cards. However, they are capable of preventing most damage to the hardware.
However, a backplate can safeguard the integrity of your graphics cards. When a graphics processing unit (GPU) is upgraded, it may be larger than the available space on the central processing unit (CPU), so a backplate is required. As a result, the GPU is more robust and reliable thanks to the backplate’s added stability.
Backplates also serve as a passive heatsink, distributing heat generated by the graphics card. Aluminum, commonly used for backplates due to the metal’s high thermal conductivity, is widely used.
Pure aluminum outperforms stainless steel in terms of thermal conductivity, with a value of 205.0 W/m K (Watts per kelvin per meter). However, due to acrylic’s low thermal conductivity of 0.2 W/m K (Watts per kelvin per meter), backplates made of acrylic no longer serve this purpose.
Backplates do not dissipate heat on their own, but the metallic component of an aluminum backplate does a better job of spreading the heat across the backplate’s surface. Otherwise, backplates serve more as a decorative accent than a functional cooling mechanism.
A backplate can make a graphics processing unit (GPU) more aesthetically pleasing, and its increased surface strength also improves the GPU’s structural integrity. Since aluminum has good heat dissipation properties, having an aluminum backplate can help keep the GPU cool.
However, heatsinks can be added to a backplate and a fan can be attached to direct airflow toward the backplate and heatsinks if the goal is to use the backplate as a GPU cooling system.
This will turn a backplate into a cooling system for the graphics card, rather than just a pretty cover for it. Even if the graphics cards are visible, the backplate serves as a beautiful cover with stunning patterns.
Is a GPU Backplate Worth It?
Backplates are worthwhile if you want to protect your graphics card from dust and other debris, but anyone who thinks they can replace your air-cooling system is mistaken.
The primary purpose of a backplate is to conceal the GPU’s back, and any other “features” it may have are merely cosmetic additions or byproducts of the components used to create it.
Backplates serve this esthetic purpose in addition to covering and protecting the graphics cards. Because of this, the GPU’s structure is reinforced and improved.
The ability to dissipate heat is an additional benefit of aluminum’s properties. The thermal conductivity of aluminum means that most backplates can serve as passive heatsinks, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call this heat dissipation.
They are effective at removing heat from the graphics card, despite their flat design. They only bring the temperature down by a degree or two, which may help but ultimately just moves the heat around.
In this sequence, backplates add a nice aesthetic touch to the GPU, but that is not their primary function. However, some companies sell GPU cooling backplates that feature an integrated air-cooling system for efficient heat dissipation.
Otherwise, conventional acrylic or aluminum backplates serve merely as a skin for the PC’s graphics processing unit.
How to do an Acrylic Backplate?
One can make their own backplate if they prefer not to spend the money on one. They’re not hard to make at all, so anyone who gives it a shot can decorate their backplate with amusing and original artwork.
Making the backplate myself has the advantage of allowing me to personalize it to my exact specifications. They can be done quickly and for much less money than purchasing a new one. Even though they won’t look very professional the first time around, for those who enjoy DIY projects, this is a great opportunity to learn something new and have some creative fun.
A simple acrylic backplate requires only:
- A 6-8 mm thick acrylic sheet
- Vinyl Covering
- Marker and ruler
- Scoring Knife, Acrylic
It’s easy to construct an acrylic backplate if you know what materials to use.
First, using a ruler, determine the exact dimensions of the graphics card.
Use a sheet of acrylic and a scoring knife to make a clean cut. Using a ruler will help you draw straighter lines.
Third, using 100-grit sandpaper, smooth out the acrylic’s edges.
The fourth step is to wrap the acrylic sheet in vinyl. This would give it a more polished appearance, but it would take some time to apply correctly. To keep the surface from creasing, I use a towel.
Step Further. The time for personalization has come. A dull, all-black backplate is the worst. As a result, I painted some patterns onto it. I also used a printed version of an online pattern I found as a stencil. Using an Exacto knife, I removed the vinyl pattern, revealing a unique pattern for my backplate.
2022’s 5 Best GPU Backplates
The PC community unanimously endorses jmmods if you’re looking for a high-quality acrylic, custom GPU backplate. It offers complete custom engraving options and a wide variety of art backplates made through a combination of painting and etching. You specify the exact model of your GPU, and the production team takes care of the rest, after you’ve chosen an RGB controller and strip (addressable or not). The Infinity (shown above) and mirrored backplates are particularly noteworthy because of the fascinating effects they produce once installed.
V1 Tech, like its main competitor, jmmods, offers a variety of full-color-art backplates, and you can even have your own printed if you want. V1 Tech’s art-proofing service and low prices in the custom GPU backplate market mean you can rest assured that your finished product will look exactly how you envisioned it. V1 Tech’s backplates feature customizable RGB lighting, allowing you to illuminate the entire device or just a select area. V1 Tech also sells PCI bracket-compatible side-support brackets that offer similar protection for your GPU and bolt into your case’s PCI bracket.
Since there are so many Etsy vendors who offer unique backplates, it would be impossible to list them all in this article. In fact, jmmods and V1 Tech aren’t the only ones who sell on Etsy; they both have stores there as well. However, similar backplates can be found for sale from other vendors, each of which may provide a unique take on the design. Spending some time browsing Etsy could yield some interesting results if you’re looking for something truly unique. Etsy is a great one-stop-shop for GPU equipment, as it not only sells GPUs, but also GPU-related accessories like support pegs and brackets. Some vendors to keep an eye out for are DreambigbyRayMod, who sells thick backplates that, once installed, form a solid RGB edge, and MODKING, who sells backplates with very vivid, full-color prints.
EKWB provides anodized aluminum backplates that are machined. The metal backplates on EKWB help with cooling and support, but they lack the eye-popping artwork and customizable RGB lighting of competing brands. When compared to an acrylic backplate, aluminum’s superior heat dissipation and rigid, lightweight support are clear advantages. Since most of the other hardware requiring cooling is going to be on the front side, heat dissipation via backplate will be dependent on how many VRMs are on the backside of your GPU.
Make your own
A GPU backplate is typically just a thin piece of acrylic, so it’s not hard to cut one to fit your needs. Since acrylic is transparent and typically comes with a clear blue plastic sheet protecting it, it can be easily measured and marked by aligning it with the back of your GPU. It helps to have access to a CNC router, but a jigsaw or scroll saw and some patience will get the job done just as well. Although a home-made backplate might lack the flash of a custom-made RGB one, it will likely be less expensive, and with a single inexpensive sheet of acrylic, you can create a wide variety of designs.
Paint that can withstand the sustained higher temperatures of your PC case is recommended if you plan on painting your own custom design on your freshly minted backplate. If you don’t want to drill holes in your backplate for screws, you can simply sand off the rough spots after cutting it to prepare it for installation.
Due to the lack of differentiation between GPU models, a backplate is an excellent way to personalize the aesthetics of your new gaming PC. A GPU backplate is a great, low-cost option for adding aesthetic value to your new PC or acting as a heat sink.
Graphics card backplates not only improve the card’s aesthetics, but also add practical functionality. You can improve your GPU’s performance by purchasing or creating a backplate.