A 3D video card is a device that connects to a computer’s motherboard to provide additional processing power when dealing with complex graphics, such as those displayed while running video games. Some computers come loaded with integrated or “on-board” video cards, which means the video card is part of the motherboard itself. These cards are usually much slower than dedicated video cards, which are stand-alone units that be installed separately in an open AGP or PCI express slot.
1. Buy a video card your motherboard can use. Before installing anything, make certain the video card you buy uses a graphic interface that is compatible with your motherboard. (Your computer’s manual should have information about your motherboard.) The two main interfaces used today are AGP and PCI express, with PCI express being the more current and powerful type. If you have both types of connectors, opt for PCI express.
2. Turn off your computer.
3. Open your computer’s case with a screwdriver, then lay the computer down so you can look inside easily.
4. Locate the appropriate slot in which to install your video card. Most motherboards have several PCI slots, with larger AGP or PCI express slots above them. For a quick way to determine the proper slot, simply hold the card up to the slot and see whether it is the same length as the gold-tipped connectors that will plug into it. (Do not touch the connectors on the card.)
5. Unscrew the expansion-slot cover on the back of your tower. Once you find the proper slot, you may notice that the back of the slot is covered by a thin piece of metal. This cover must be removed so the connectors on the back of the video card are accessible from the back of the case.
6. Install the card. Align it directly above the PCI-E or AGP slot and press down firmly on both sides. The card should sink, or pop in place. If the card slot has a clip or clamping mechanism of some sort, open the clip before pushing the card in place. (This will simply require pushing the clip down with your finger.) After the card is installed, close the clamp to lock the card in place.
7. Connect the card to your power supply. If your card came with a power cord, you must connect the cord to an unused power connection coming from your power supply. This is generally needed for more powerful video cards that draw a lot of electricity.
8. Close your case and turn on your computer.
9. Install video drivers. Use the CD that came with your card to install diver software to allow Windows to use the new hardware. If you do not have a driver CD, install drivers that are appropriate to your operating system and made by the manufacturer of the video card. After the drivers are installed, you will have to restart your computer.