A graphics card is a device with its own memory and processing capabilities. It assists a computer’s CPU with processing and displaying 3D graphics. Some computers have an integrated graphics card, which means that the graphics processor is part of the motherboard. A true graphics card is a stand-alone device which plugs into the motherboard, usually in a PCI express or AGP slot. Installing graphics cards in a computer with integrated graphics is often a good way to increase performance when playing games.
1. Turn off the computer and unplug the power cord and monitor cable.
2. Open the case of the desktop by taking out several screws on the back and sliding off the side panel. Motherboards are usually accessible by taking off the panel on the left side of the case.
3. Remove the old video card (if necessary). If you unplugged your monitor cable from an existing video card, remove it by unscrewing a mounting screw just inside the case, unclipping a small plastic retainer clamp on the other side of the card (some cards will not require this) and gently pulling back on the card.
4. Install the new card in the appropriate slot. Most video cards are either AGP or PCI express. To find the appropriate slot, hold the card up to the available slots and compare the size of the gold-tipped connectors on the card with the slot. Find the slot that is the same size as the connector on the card. To install the card, align it in the slot and firmly push the golf connectors into the slot. You can use a mounting screw to secure the card at the back of the case, but this is optional. Also if you have a high-end card, you may need to hook up a power cable from your power supply.
5. Close the case and connect the monitor to the new graphics card.
6. Start the computer and use the driver CD that came with your card to load software drivers. A graphics card needs special software to tell the computer’s operating system use it properly. Your card should have come with a CD with drivers for your operating system; alternatively, you can often download drivers from graphics card manufacturers’ websites. Once driver installation is complete, restart your computer to finish installation.