The video card that is inside of your computer is responsible for what you are seeing on your monitor right now and how good your PC games play. Video cards, also known as graphic cards, can come pre-built into your motherboard or can be an actual card that fits securely into a slot on your motherboard. Either way, your video card is very important, and becomes more important as graphics become more demanding.
First let’s talk about what type of video cards there are, and which one you should get. Upgrading your current video card has become a very simple task because it only slides right into a slot on your computer. Your video card can go into one of two slots, PCI or AGP. Chances are that your computer has both, but which one is the best you ask? By far AGP is the better technology since it processes data much faster then PCI. Unfortunately if you have a computer that was bought before the year 2000, most likely you don’t have an AGP slot, or at least not the fastest. Yes, AGP slots can come in many different speeds too, like 1x, 2x and so on and so forth.
Now that you know about AGP and PCI, you need to find out which one your computer can use. Every computer has a PCI slot, so a PCI video card should be fine for anyone, but if you want to use the faster and better AGP technology then you need to find out if your computer has an AGP slot. You can do this one of three ways, call your computers manufacturer and ask, read your PC’s instruction manual, or open up your computer and look for a brown slot on your motherboard. PCI slots are usually white and AGP are brown, but it could be different for others computers. So just remember this, a PCI slot is bigger then an AGP slot, so if you have a slot that is smaller then the rest, that is your AGP.
Next we talk about features on your video card, and what they are all about. If you are a computer beginner or novice, then you need to know two important things about video cards. First is their memory size, which basically means how much RAM the video card has. The more the better obviously, but to much can be a waste of money, so just be sure to get the right amount for what you plan on doing. Second are graphic capabilities, now there are all kinds of technical terms like floating points, pixels and lots of other technical gibberish. If you are a Windows user, all you need to focus on is the DirectX capabilities. DirectX is the software used to process the graphics information, so make sure you get a video card that supports the latest DirectX version. Find out what the latest version of DirectX is by going to Microsoft’s website.
Last but not least we move onto installing your new video card upgrade. This is actually the simple part and can be done by everyone who owns a computer. First you need turn off your computer and unplug everything attached to it. Then unscrew your computer case and remove it, exposing the inside of your computer. If you are installing the video card in an unused expansion slot, then be sure to remove the slot cover on your computers case and save it for future use. If you are replacing your old video card, then you need to unhook any cables that are hooked up to it, and gently rock it back and forth out of the slot to remove it.
Once that is all done, you can pull your pretty new video card out of its box, and protective sleeve, and put it into the AGP or PCI slot on your motherboard. Push evenly on both sides of your video card, to get it securely into the slot. After that, screw the card into the slot holder with the screw provided, and make sure it is secure. Then if the card has any extra cables that may be required to be hooked up, like a power supply connector, audio cable or whatever the card demands, then connect them. How to hook up these cables, and where they go, should be in the manual that comes with your video card.
Once those steps are complete, just put your computers case cover back on, hook everything back up, and you are just about done. The last thing you need to do is start your computer, and once you are at your desktop you need to install the video card drivers. These drivers should be on a CD or floppy disc that comes with the video card, if not then the card might only require generic drivers that come with Windows, so no disc is required.
You have now learned how to successfully upgrade and install a new video card into just about any computer. Use this knowledge to help your friends and family have a better PC, and maybe make a few extra bucks for your self.