What are the steps for installing a video card into your desktop computer's motherboard?

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Answered by: Steven, An Expert in the Do It Yourself Category
So that great new video card you ordered has finally arrived. All you need to do now is to install it into your motherboard, and you can crank those PC games up for great graphical fidelity. There’s just one thing: you’re not really sure exactly how that card fits into your computer in the first place. Don’t worry; computers are not nearly as complicated to build and upgrade as you think they are. If all goes well, installing a video card into your computer takes only a few minutes.



Your first step is to turn off the computer you want to upgrade. Make sure that the kill switch on the power supply is set to “off.” Turning this off ensures that no power at all reaches your computer. You will also want a clean, flat surface to work on, and a Philips-head (star head for those of you without knowledge of tool terms) screwdriver. If this surface is far away from your desk, don’t forget to unplug all the cables from the back of your computer to avoid a tangled mess!

Next, gently lay your computer on its side. Sometimes, the side panel is held on by thumbscrews. If this is the case, just remove these screws and put them somewhere you won’t forget them. Otherwise, unscrew the screws holding the panel in place. Carefully slide this panel off your computer (this may require some elbow grease, so don’t be afraid to apply a little tensile strength here). Lay this side panel somewhere it won’t get in your way.



Now, remove the old video card from your motherboard. Unscrew the screw holding it in place, remove the 6-pin power cable (or cables) from the power port on the card. Depending on your motherboard, there may be a small clip at one end of the PCI-E slot on your motherboard holding the card in place. Release this clip by pressing on it with your finger. Gently remove the old card. Place it down on the work surface so it won’t get in your way.

Here comes the fun part. Take your new video card out of its packaging. Try not to touch the gold teeth at the bottom of the card, as doing so might give it a static charge (which in turn can kill your motherboard). Make sure that your computer’s power supply has enough 6-pin video power connectors for your card. Many more powerful cards require two of these connectors. If you don’t have enough, you can go out and purchase a converter that will allow you to have the correct number.

Press the new video card down into the now-vacant PCI-E slot. You’ll know it’s all the way in when you can no longer see any of the gold on the connectors. Screw the card into place witht he back plate of your computer so that it doesn’t wiggle around. Next, plug the 6-pin power cable or cables in the power port(s) on the video card.

Replace the side panel on your computer and get everything plugged back in at your desk or workstation. Turn the kill switch on the power supply to “on,” and then turn your computer on. Often, the video card will come with a driver disc in the packaging. By the time you buy the card, this software is usually out of date. Open an Internet browser and navigate to the manufacturer’s site to download the most recent drivers. Depending on your operating system, you may have to restart after installing this software.

There you have it. Installing a video card is one of the easiest things you can do yourself with your desktop computer.

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