|Mr. Fixit's PC Upgrade and Repair
|Install / Replace
The expansion card is often referred to as an adapter card. It is a printed circuit board (PCB) that can be inserted into an electrical connector, or expansion
slot on the computer's motherboard, to add functionality to a computer system via the expansion bus. They range from Graphic cards to TV/Radio Tuner cards.
Earlier PCs had used PCI or AGP for graphics cards. Adding or changing an expansion card is not that difficult. With the right tools and understanding the
process is simple, but first, lets identify expansion slots that you may find in your PC.
These are some Expansion Slots
you may find on a motherboard. PCI
and PCIe are the most common.
PCIe is similar to PCI but more
advanced in speed.
This is a USB 2.0 Expansion card for a PCI bus.
Since this motherboard has USB 1.1, this card will
add USB 2.0 abilities to the system. Other common
cards are Ethernet, WiFi, Graphics, Audio, Tuners,
Be sure to line up the card to the connector
and the metal tab into the slot, just behind
the motherboard. Care to not touch anything
on the card or the motherboard. Only handle
the card by the edges.
Once the card is properly aligned, gently push in the card
with even force. DO NOT USE EXCESSIVE FORCE.
When the card is firmly into
position, place the screw in the hole
and use a phillips screw driver to
tighten the screw
The screw should only be hand tight and will keep
the card in position. The PC is now ready to be put
Now that you have the PC back together, you can turn the unit on. If the installation was a success, the Operating System will automatically install the drivers
for the card to function. Keep in mind some Expansion cards come with a CD/DVD containing software and drivers to use specific features in the card. After
the installation of the card and it's drivers, the system has a new ability. That is all there is to installing or replacing an expansion card.
The Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) was created in 1992, by Intel's Architecture Development
Lab. The new technology was first used in Servers and Workstations then later became popular with home
PCs. The PCI has been used to add networking, audio, modems, disk controllers, and graphics. The PCI
is starting to fade as those expansions are now integrated into the motherboard. Some manufactures still
provide a PCI slot for the purposes of backwards compatibility and the low relative cost to produce.
The Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) made its appearance in the late '90s for graphics adapters as 3D
graphics required enormous bandwidth between the processor and the graphics card. Unlike PCI, the AGP
has a dedicated path to the processor and the ability to access RAM directly without involving the
processor. AGP can transfer up to 4 times the data per second than PCI. There are 3 AGP types: x1/x2
(3.3V) have a notch closer to the back, x4/x8 (1.5V) have a notch closer to the front, Universals has neither
and can use either 3.3V or 1.5V cards.
The Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe) appeared in 2004. It's based on SATA technology.
Unlike the PCI and AGP, PCIe uses Serial communications to achieve data transfers up to 16GB/s. The
PCIe is divided into Lanes. Each lane can send/receive data up to 985MB/s. A slot labeled PCIe x1 means
there is only one lane to use where as PCIe x16 can use up to 16 lanes. The most common PCIe found in
today's PCs are the PCIe x1 and x16. You may even find an x4 or an x8 in high performance PCs.
< PCIe x1
˄ PCIe x16
As you can see, the expansion bus as improved a great deal over the years. With the popularity of the PCIe x16, don't be surprised if you find more than 1 in
your PC. The PCIe x16 is used primarily for High Performance graphics cards and it can link 2 or more cards together using SLI or Crossfire technology. The
PCIe x1 thru x8 can be used to add expansions like USB 3.0, eSATA, TV/Radio Tuners, and R.A.I.D to your PC.
Before you dash to your local computer store, you first need to know if you have an available slot and what kind it is. Second, you need to check that your
System meets the minimum requirements to operate the new expansion card; Processor speed, RAM, Disk space, OS, etc.
Finally, once you confirm you have an availible slot and the System will support the new expansion card, you can begin installing the new Hardware.
< Back Front >
Before you begin the installation, you will
need a 1/4 inch nut driver, a 3/16 inch nut
driver, a Phillips-head screwdriver, and
an Electric Static Discharge wrist band
with grounding wire connected to a
grounded object. Unplug all cables from
the PC including the Power cord.
Using the 1/4 inch nut driver,
remove the 2 screws in the
back and remove the side
cover. DO NOT TOUCH any
components inside the PC.
With the cover removed, you can see the slot
covers in the back. Some of these pop out and
others need a 3/16" nut driver to remove the screw