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Installing A Graphics Card

Compare Graphics Cards and Buy the Best You Can Afford

Installing a graphics card is one of the last steps in building your computer. Compare graphics cards and use the best graphics card (cheap graphics cards can sometimes lead to graphic card problems).

Our next step is installing a graphics card. Actually, we'll cover all peripheral cards here, with the most common being...

  • Graphics Card(s)
  • Sound Card
  • Ethernet Card
  • Wireless Ethernet Card

Graphics Card

There are other types of cards you may use, and the installation for them will be very similar to a graphics card install. It may be that you do not have any peripheral cards if you got onboard video with your motherboard. If that is the case, you can just skim over this section, and keep it in mind if you should later buy a graphics or sound card.

Note: PCI-E slots come in sizes that include: x1, x2, x4, x8, and x16. These all refer to the communication speed of the slot. There are 2 types of cards to cover here, graphics, and all others.

Motherboards now come with PCI-E slots. See Labels "A, B, and C" on the motherboard diagram. "A" is a PCI slot. These are still in use today, but in the future will be made obsolete.

They are being replaced by "C", the PCI-E x1 slot (as well as x2, x4 etc.). These allow faster communications with the motherboard. Finally, slot "B" is the PCI-E x16 slot that will be used for your graphics card.

You may have noticed that the motherboard in the above link has 2 of the x16 slots. This is used for SLI (Scalable Link Interface). This allows you to install 2 graphics cards to really crank up your graphics power. Usually only gamers will go with this type of setup, as it can get quite expensive. The board we are using for this demonstration only has a single PCI-E slot.

So, installing a graphics card entails...

(Note: Always compare graphics cards online reviews and then buy the best graphics card that you can afford; it will pay-off in the long run.

Carefully line the card up with the PCI-E x16 slot. The back bracket of the card should like up with one or two of the slots on the back of the case. You will need to pop out the slot protectors that it lines up with, or you may have one that is held in place with a screw. Either way, remove the protector and set it aside.

Next, line the card up again, and carefully press the card down into the slot. You want to be sure to use even pressure along the length of the card. When the card is in place, secure it to the back of the case with a small screw.

Installing A Graphics Card
Depending on the card you bought, you will either have 1 or 2 power connectors. The basic cards will have either no power connection, or a 4 pin connection. Some higher end cards are starting to come with 2 connectors. They will have a 6 and 8 pin connection.

8 Pin Power Connector

Graphics Card Power Connections

Other cards will have a single 6 pin connection.

6 Pin Power Connector

6 Pin Power Connection


The power supply that you researched to buy with this card should have the correct connector. Some will include an adapter that connects 2 of the 4 pin connections into a single 6 pin connection. Regardless of the type of connection, run a wire from the power supply and hook it into the card.

Please refer to your graphics card manual for more detailed information on your connections.

Note: Do not share power cables that your graphics card uses with anything else. Unlike your computers' fans, graphics cards take a lot of power, and don't like sharing with others.

Install A Graphics Card

That's it for installing a graphics card. If you encounter graphic card problems with the set up, simply use this page as a checklist and make sure you have done the installation correctly. In some cases, problems may be a result of an inoperable card; keep the receipt and packaging when you buy it and make sure you return to the vendor within in the warranty period.

Other cards you may have will be installed the same way. Simply identify which type of slot you need, PCI, x1, x4, x8 and drop the card in. Some cards, such as Ethernet cards and some sound cards, do not require any power connections. Others will; if so, run another power cable from the power supply. Check the manual that came with your peripheral card for the correct installation procedures.

Moving on, the next step is the initial boot up...

Step Fourteen - Final Preparations


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