How to install expansion cards

A few years ago we had our hands on all sorts of expansion cards for PCs, from TV tuners through to sound cards, but these days they’re less common.

If you do have one, however, installation is very simple.

TIP: Try to use alternate slots in order to improve airflow and stop adjacent cards from heating one another up.

1. Locate spare slot

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Before you start, carefully read the instructions that came with your expansion card as some require you to install software first. If yours does, you’ll need to finish building the PC and install the operating system and necessary software before fitting the expansion card.

When you’re ready, find a spare PCI or PCI Express slot on your motherboard. Ideally, leave a gap between other expansion cards, such as your graphics card, to increase airflow and keep your PC running cool.

2. Remove blanking plate

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To fit an expansion card, you’ll need to remove the expansion slot’s blanking plate. The procedure will differ depending on your case, so carefully check its manual for full details. Typically, blanking plates are either individually screwed in place or held in place by a single retaining bar. Remove whatever’s holding the blanking plates in place. Some plates just lift out, while others are attached to the case and need to be rocked backwards and forwards to snap them out.

3. Fit the card

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PCI and PCI Express cards are fitted in the same way. Line up the connector on the bottom of the card with the slot in which you want to put it. Slots have notches part of the way along, which you need to line up with the gap in the card’s connector. When you’ve done this, push the card into place. It will take a bit of force to get the card to slide home properly. If the card doesn’t feel like it’s going to go into the slot, remove it and make sure it’s lined up and that you’re trying to install it into the correct slot. When the card is in place, check round it to make sure the connector is firmly in the slot. If the card doesn’t look level, apply pressure to the part of the card sticking up until it clicks into place.

4. Screw it in

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When your card is firmly in place, you need to secure it in its slot. As some cases use proprietary fixing methods, check your case’s manual for instructions on how to do this. If you need to use a screw, line up the screw hole in the card’s blanking plate with the screw hole in the case. Tighten the screw up to the point where the card feels firm and doesn’t wobble in the slot.

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