How to replace or install a computer expansion card

As always, refer to your owners manual for specifics about your computer system before performing any work. This guide is intended to be generic in nature and developed to assist in replacing or installing different types of expansion cards in a computer.

1) Turn off all power and unplug the computer.

2) Disconnect all cables from the back of the pc. If you cannot remember where they go, sketch a diagram or label in some way so the cables can be reinstalled into its proper connection. CAUTION - be extremely careful with the monitor connector a) use caution removing as most vga connectors have thumb screws that must be loosened before removal b) the connector pins can be easily bent or broke off so be gentle, especially when reconnecting. If the pins get bent, the entire cable will have to be replaced, so once again BE GENTLE and make double sure that it is being properly connected.

3) Move the computer to a good work table. Do not work on carpeted areas. Static electricity can cause catastrophic damage to a computer. It is recommended that an anti-static wrist strap with pad be used. They cost very little money. Worth the investment. If you just have to do it without the anti static wrist strap, touch the metal case on the computer before touching any electronic components.

4) Remove the cover according to your owners manual. Most older pc's require  small Phillips head screws to be removed, then slide the side panels or entire cover out to the rear of the machine. Newer computer's (such as Dell) just simply press the plastic tabs in and swing the cover open.

5) Chose the expansion port you want to use. They come in different configurations such as AGP, ISA and PCI. AGP is mainly used for video cards. PCI is usually for modems, sound cards and older video cards. Very unlikely you will use an ISA slot unless you are dealing with older hardware.

6) If you are installing a video card, you may need to disable the on-board video prior to installing the card. If your vga connector is built into the motherboard (meaning your video connection port is not on an expansion card) you have onboard video. Installing the card without first disabling the onboard video could cause conflicts and the computer may not boot. The onboard video is usually disabled through the BIOS settings. BIOS settings are accessed during the boot up process. A specific key must be held during the initial startup of the computer. Some common keys F2, del and F12. Look on the screen during boot, it should say something like "F12 to enter setup". Sometimes video is disabled through jumper settings on the motherboard. In that case, you will have to have your motherboard owners manual to locate and jumper the correct pin on the motherboard.

7) If you are working with older pc components, there may be some jumper settings to do before installing to prevent I/O and IRQ conflicts. But, most newer computers are plug an play, thus no configuring is necessary

8) Remove the blank (dummy bracket) on the back of the computer that lines up with the slot you want to use. Blanks are held in by a Phillips head screw (save the screw, you will need it later) or have tear away tabs. If they are tear away, grasp the blank with needle nose pliers and gently twist from side to side until the blank falls out. If the dummy bracket was held in by a screw, save it, you might need the blank at a later time if you do any more upgrading.

9) Hold the card by the mounting bracket and the top rear of the card. Place directly over the slot then push firmly down to seat the card. Sometimes a gently rocking back and forth is needed to seat the card. Do not force the card or bend from side to side as this can possibly damage the card and / or the motherboard. Make sure the card is seated all the way down into the slot. If it is not properly seated, it can cause the computer not to boot.

10) Fasten the card bracket with the screw you removed earlier. If you had tear away blanks, you will have to acquire a screw.

11) Replace or close the cover, reconnect all cables, plug in electrical cords and viola', you are done! Congratulations and enjoy. You just saved yourself some money!



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