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[ The PC Guide | Procedure Guide | Physical Installation Procedures ]

Video Card Physical Installation Procedure

This procedure describes how to install a video card into the motherboard. This is a very easy procedure, especially with newer video cards. I cover the installation of PCI, VLB, and ISA cards here (specific instructions on AGP cards will follow once I have used AGP personally; my initial impressions are that they would be installed quite similarly to PCI cards). This procedure deals only with the physical installation of the card.

Procedure Overview:

  • Difficulty Level: 1-2 (Very low to Low). VLB video cards can be more difficult than the others to install due to the large size of the connector.
  • Risk Factor: 2 (Low).
  • Hardware Required: Screwdriver and possibly one screw if it isn't already in the case.
  • Software Required: None.
  • Time to Perform: 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Preparation / Warnings:
    • If you have not already done so, please read the section on general installation and assembly tips.
    • You may want to check out this section on video system interfaces or this one on system bus types, if you need some help with understanding AGP, PCI, VLB and ISA, or figuring out what type of card you have.
    • If the card is being inserted as part of a new system build, I assume you have already planned out where you want the card to go. You may want to look at the System Layout Planning Procedure, which will provide you with tips on choosing an expansion slot.
    • The system case should be open before you begin. For instructions on opening the case, refer to this procedure.
    • Do not use excessive force to insert the video card into its expansion slot. Be patient, especially with the very long connector on VLB cards.
    • If the motherboard is flexing excessively when you try to insert the card, it may not be physically supported properly. You may find some ideas for improving this situation by examining this procedure on motherboard installation.

Procedure Steps:

  1. Identify Expansion Slot: Find an open expansion slot of the correct type for the video card. You will want to choose a slot if possible that is far away from other cards and other hardware inside the box.
  2. Remove Metal Insert: Using a screwdriver, unscrew the metal insert in the case that corresponds to the expansion slot you are using. It may help to take the video card and align it to the slot. This will help you to visualize which slot goes with which system case insert (since PCI cards are opposite from ISA ones, this isn't always totally obvious.) Some cases may have simple punch-outs instead of screwed-in inserts; if yours does then remove the insert by pushing it out and/or flexing it back and forth until it comes off.
  3. Insert Card: Align the pins of the video card's connector to the slot. Make sure the metal insert that goes to the back of the case is also aligned correctly. Then apply firm pressure to seat the card into the slot. You may need to rock the card back and forth to get it to go in. VESA local bus cards are the hardest to insert because their connector is so long--be patient and work slowly. Do not force the card in or press it to the point where the motherboard is flexing significantly. If you need to, support the motherboard manually with one hand while you push with the other.
  4. Secure Card: Screw the video card into place using the screw you removed from the insert blank formerly in the case. You may need to supply a screw if your case is one of the el-cheapo ones that doesn't come with screws for the expansion slots.
  5. Double-Check Installation: Ensure that the card is securely in its slot. The card may move from side to side slightly when wiggled but should not be loose. Make sure that the card is not interfering with anything else in the case. Make sure that the card is inserted far enough into the expansion slot.

Next: Uninstallation and Disassembly Procedures

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