Install and configure expansion cards

Install and configure expansion cards

1.4 Install and configure expansion cards

Expansion cards are printed circuit boards that can be put into an expansion slot of the motherboard, and can expand and increase the PCs functionality. The number of expansion cards that can be added depends on the board and case.

The main purpose of an expansion card is to offer features not offered by the board. For example, the original IBM PC doesn’t have a graphics or hard drive controller to enable graphics capability and hard drive interface.

Sound Cards

Sound cards an expansion card providing an audio I/O interface with connections for speakers, earphones, and microphone. To install:

  1. Verify that you have the current drivers for the card you’re about to install. This can be a CD or .exe from the manufacturer’s site.
  2. Turn off the PC and unplug it.
  3. Open the case.
  4. Touch the power supply to release the static electricity from your body (that can damage your PC ).
  5. Locate the old card. Unplug the speakers and everything plugged into the card.
  6. Release any clip holding the able (be careful).
  7. Unscrew the card.
  8.  Insert the new sound card in the same slot.
  9. If your PC doesn’t have a sound card – if you are not removing an old card, then pick a slot you can use for the new one, and remove the corresponding slot insert.
  10. Close the case.
  11. Plug in the PC and turn it on. The OS should install and recognize it. If it came with a CD,insert it while the PC boots up.

Video cards/ Graphic card/ Graphic Adapter/Video Adapter

Video adapters allow your computer to send graphical information to an output device.  The pictures on your display device are made of tiny dots called pixels. The most popular resolution we will see is more than one million pixels. The PC has to determine what it will do with every single pixel so that it can create an image. For this to be possible, it needs an interpreter of sorts. Your PC needs something that will take binary (1s and 0s) and turn it into something we will understand. If your PC does not have graphics capability installed in the motherboard, you would have a big “language barrier”. That’s where the video card/ graphic card comes in.Its job is hard but the concept is simple.

Think of a PC as a corporation with its own creative arts division. When customers or employees want a piece of artwork, they would submit an order. The creative arts division decides how to create the image and then expresses it on canvas, resulting in something you know and recognize, not words on paper written in a language you don’t understand.

A graphics card/ adapteroperateswith a similar concept. The CPU, working with software applications, sends data about the image to the graphics card. The card chooses how to use the pixels on the display device to create the image. It then sends that data to the output device via the cable.

Creating an image out of binary information is demanding. To create a 3D image, the video card / adapter 1st makes a wireframe out of straight lines, after whichitrasterizes the image (fills in the remaining pixels).Basically, it createsan outline thencolours in its drawing. It also adds lighting and texture. For fast-paced games, the PC has to go through this process over60 times per second. Without a graphics card to complete the essential calculations, the workload would be too much for the PC to handle. It is then that you would likely encounter the “blue screen of death”.

To install:

  1. Uninstall your old drivers.You can uninstall drivers using the Device Manager (Windows). If it’s an Apple PC, you wouldn’t need to uninstall anything.
  2. Follow steps 2 and 3 from Installing Sound Cards.
  3. Put in the new graphics card, ensuring that you do not touch the contacts on the bottom. If there wasn’t a card in the PC before, you will need to remove the metal cover over the PCi Slot. Put the new card in it. You should hear a click when you insert it.
  4. Secure card with screws.

Follow 9-10 from Installing Sound Cards.

Network cards

Network Interface (NIC) provide a physical connection to a computer network. A network interface card provides the PC with a steadfast, constant connection to a network. Personal computers and business desktops,on a local area network (LAN), typically have a network interface card  installed precisely to enable the use of the LAN transmission technology.

To install:

  1. Follow 1-7 from Installing Sound Cards.  Wake-On-LAN cablesalerts your PC when network activity is available. If cables came with the card, and thePC supports them, install them.
  2. Once the card has been physically installed in the PC, put the PC back together.
  3. Connect the network cable (to the PC and the router).
  4. Turn on the computer and install the driver.

Serial and parallel cards

These cards provide additional serial and parallel connections. You will install these if you need space for another scanner or printer, etc.

  1. Check to see if you have any free PCI slots.
  2. Follow all instructions fromInstalling Sound Cards.

N.B ensure the PCI slot you choose can be easily accessed from outside, once you close up the case.

You would install USBand FireWire cards in the same way as the serial/parallel cards. To check if the FireWire card is installed properly, right-click on ‘My Computer’ then select Properties→ Device manager→ 1394 Bus controller. You should see OHCI Compliant IEEE1394. If not, check to see if it was physically placed in the PCI slot properly. If all else fails, try moving the card to a different slot.

Modem cards

Short for modulator-demodulator, a modem is used to communicate over a phone line, by converting digital to analog signals for transmission, and vice versa for reception.

To install:

  1. Follow 2 and 3 from Installing Sound Cards.
  2. Locate an empty PCI slot.
  3. Insert modem card with the silver-coloured side (where you insert the wires)facing outside the PC.
  4. Once the card is positioned properly, gently put pressure on it, until it can’t go any further.
  5. Screw down the modem card.
  6. Close the PC.
  7. Plug in the phone wire.
  8. Test it.


Wireless/cellular cards

Wireless Internet cards/LAN cards are one of the many types of adapter cards that add features to your PC. Wireless/cellular cards come in different forms. They are different for laptops, desktops and other personal devices. Most PCs come with one already installed, but they can also be bought. They are fairly inexpensive and can easily be installed.

To install:

  1. Follow 2 and 3 from Installing Sound Cards.
  2. Locate an empty PCI slot and remove the metal cover  to expose the available port.
  3. Insert the cellular or wireless card.Put the wireless card in the PCI slot if it’s a Windows PC, or in the Airport slot for a Mac (Apple).
  4. Put card in port and screw it down carefully.
  5. Attach the antenna to the cellular or wireless card.
  6. Close up the PC.
  7. Run the driver of software and follow the instructions and configure

TV tuner cards

These cards allows you to receive TV signals from cable connections for viewing or recording TV programs.

To install:

  1. Follow 1-6 from Installing Sound Cards.
  2. Find an empty PCI slot and insert the card.
  3. Screw down card then close machine.
  4. Turn on the PC
  5. Your computer should detect new hardware and install using Plug and Play
  6. Follow the instructions and enjoy your shows.

Video capture cards

You can use these cards to capture analog and S-Video formats. Analog signals can be converted into digital media, recorded, used for surveillance, or for live streaming.Follow the same instructions as the TV Tuner to install.

Riser cards

This expansion card is a printed circuit board that carries several signal lines through a single connector on a main board, and issues them through connectors on the card.Their main purposes to allow additional expansion cards to a system sealed off in a small case, where the height doesn’t allow for a vertical placement of expansion cards.Basically, a riser card is a board that plugs into the board and delivers extra slots for adapter cards. Because it rises above the system board, it enables you to connect additional adapters parallel to the board, giving the illusion of space in a tight space.Installation is the same as above

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