Replacing a Video Card

It has occured to me that many people don’t know how to replace or upgrade a component withen their case. Should you need to replace your video card, you’ll need to know the type of video card you already have.

Most modern computers use either “on-board” video cards or AGP cards, however it is possible that if you have an older system, you may have a PCI video card. The first step towards identifying if your video card is on-board or AGP is to look at the rear of your system case.

An on-board video card is permanently attached to your motherboard and will have its connector grouped with the USB, Ethernet, printer port, and mouse/keyboard ports.

If you have identified that you have an on-board card, your next step would be to open the case. It is important to note that computer components and computer cases are made to be taken apart; if you find yourself struggling to remove anything, its most likely due to a remaining screw. Once open, look to the lower left quarter of the motherboard. You will notice several beige expansion slots, and possibly one brown expansion slot above all of the others. The beige slots are PCI and the brown slot is AGP. It is important to know which slot type you have, to know what card type you should buy.

Once you’ve bought your new card, you’ll want to align the end with the gold “fingers” with the slot. Inserting a new card may take some force, however do not push so hard as to break any components. A fully inserted card will have a very small portion of the top of the gold fingers still visible, if at all. It is also important to align the metal plate on the back of the card with the open slot in the case. Once the card is completely inserted; secure it to the case with one bolt, screwed onto the plate.

If your video card is not on-board, it is either AGP or PCI. As stated above, open your case and look to the lower left quarter of the motherboard. To find out which slot holds your video card, examine the rear of the case and find the video connector. Using that as a reference, you can see where your video card is. If your video card is in a beige slot, it is PCI and if it is in a brown slot, it is AGP. Remember that when you buy your replacement card. As before, you want to align the gold fingers on the card with the expansion slot on the motherboard, and align the metal plate with the back of the computer case. Same as before, ensure that the gold fingers are fully inserted to the slot, and secure with one bolt on the plate.

Once your new video card is installed, close your case, attach your monitor, and start your system. Windows should detect your new video card upon rebooting. This will leave you with standard VGA colors. Insert the CD included with the new video card. If the CD does not run automatically, right click on “My Computer” go to “Properties”, click the “hardware” tab, and look for “device Manager”. Find your new video card in the list, it will be under “display adapters”. Right click on the name of your new video card, go to properties. Find the button which says “update driver” and specify your CD-ROM. Windows will do the rest.

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