Installing and Configuring Expansion Cards – CompTIA A+ 220-901 – 1.4

| November 29, 2015

There’s a PC expansion card for nearly any customization requirement. In this video, you’ll learn about the expansion card installation process and options for audio, video, network, and storage expansion.

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If you’re planning to expand the capabilities of your computer, then you’re probably going to want to use expansion cards to be able to do that. In this video, I’ll show you how you can easily add additional adapter cards into your computer to provide a number of different capabilities.

If you look closely on your motherboard, you can easily find the expansion slots. They’re usually taking up quite a bit of room, and they’re usually brightly colored so you can see exactly where they are. It’s relatively easy to install additional capabilities by sliding in some expansion cards or expansion adapters right into these slots.

You’ll, of course, want to make sure that you’ve powered off your computer. You should do that whenever you’re working inside of your computer. And you simply would take the expansion card and place it right on top of the slot. Then you would press down very gently on the card so it slides right into the expansion slot. There shouldn’t be a lot of pushing. It should very easily slide in. There shouldn’t be anything that’s giving. If the card is not going into the slot very easily, you may want to pull it back out and confirm that the card itself is one that’s designed to fit in that particular slot. It may be that you’re using an adapter that is not compatible with the slot you’re planning to connect it to.

There are many different kinds of adapters you can plug in. Here’s a good example of an audio adapter. This is a PCI Express adapter card. And you can tell it’s audio because of the audio interfaces on the back. You’ve got RCA and TRS jacks on the back that you can use for sending both analog and digital signals, as well.

Many people upgrade the video inside of their desktop computer with a high end video card, like this one. It seems that most of the video cards these days are comprised of fans and heat sinks. And underneath all of this is some very high speed and very hot type of processors for this video processing. You’ll commonly see this on gaming computers, or someone who’s doing a lot of video editing.

If you have a motherboard that doesn’t include a network interface, or you’d like to add a different network interface to your computer, you could get a network interface card like this one. They also have network interface cards that have multiple interfaces on them. You’ll see this often on servers, or very high end systems, so you can connect multiple networks into this single device simultaneously.

On my computers, I’m always running out of interfaces to plug things into, so why might need to add additional USB ports. And I can do that by adding a PCI Express card like this one that adds four more USB interfaces onto the back of my computer. The same thing applies if I’m using FireWire. I may need an additional card to increase the number of FireWire ports on my computer. And these days, the higher speed interfaces might be Thunderbolt connections, so you might need an additional adapter card for that. In this case, this is a video card that has a Thunderbolt type interface that’s probably being used solely for DisplayPort video.

If you’re planning to run a server that has a RAID array, you may need a storage card that is specifically designed to provide RAID services for all of the different storage devices on your computer.

In some environments, you may have systems that don’t have any type of internet connectivity, and the only way to network these devices is over phone lines. So you may need to have a modem installed with a modem adapter card inside of your computer. The modern version of those modem cards is the wireless WAN cards, or the cellular cards where you’re connecting to a wireless service provider to get your internet access. You’ll often see these in mobile devices or laptops, and they’re usually connecting with one of these Mini PCI or PCI Express cards that have a spot on here to plug in the antenna so you can then connect to the wireless network. This means that you could take your laptop anywhere there’s a wireless signal from a wireless provider, and you’re able to connect to the internet.

And they’re very easy to install. You simply connect it to the interface slot that’s inside of your laptop. You connect up the antenna connection that’s inside of your laptop, and you’re now able to communicate over the wide area network to the internet using the wireless cellular service provider.

These days we’re putting computers next to our televisions, and we’re wanting to grab signals from the internet, and from our cable connections, and even over the air. To be able to do that, we may want to add a television tuner or a video capture card that’s able to receive information over standard F connectors, and be able to save that as digital signals on your storage device.

If you go into a data center, you may see these racks of computers where you have these very small computers that are slid it into these very tall racks. These are usually some very tiny computers. They’re very narrow. They fit into the rack. They’re about an inch and 3/4 high, so they’re very short. One of the challenges that you have then is, how do you fit an adapter card into a server where the card is bigger than the size of the server itself.

Well, to do that, we simply turn the card sideways. And to be able to do that, we use a riser card that connects to the bus of the computer. But you’ll notice all it simply does is turn the cards 90 degrees. And by doing that, we’re able to slide an adapter card sideways, which means we’re not limited by the height of that server.

After looking at that list of options, you may want to have one of those to your computer. So your first stop should be your motherboard documentation to determine how many different adapter slots do you have inside of your computer. What types of slots are they? What types of systems can you expect to plug into those particular slots? You should be able to also look at the requirements from the adapter that you’re purchasing. What type of hardware does it require? Are there drivers that you need to install? You may want to check a knowledge base online and see if someone else has purchased that particular adapter, and did they run into any problems during the installation process.

And on the longer term side, how supportable is this particular device. Is it performing the way that people would expect, or are there problems with the performance of this particular adapter? Another important piece of information is the process you go through during the installation. Do you install the driver first, and then physically install the adapter card, or do you install the adapter card first, and then install the software driver? So you want to check the documentation of this particular piece of hardware to find out what you do first, and then what you do second.

The installation of the device driver should be relatively straightforward. We’re simply installing a new piece of software into our operating system so that our OS can now find and understand how to use that new piece of hardware. So your first step should be to check the documentation. And it will tell you the exact process you should follow to correctly install that driver. Before you install the driver, you may want to check the manufacturer’s website to see if there’s a newer version of the driver available. That way you can download and use a driver that is not only the newest, but hopefully has the fewest number of bugs. If there is an existing driver inside of your operating system the newer driver may require that you uninstall the driver that’s currently inside of it. So make sure that you go through the process, and usually in Windows you follow a process in the Windows Device Manager to uninstall the device driver.

Many times the manufacturer has already created a program that does all of the hard work for you. You simply run the installation program and it installs all of the proper drivers. But you may have to go into Windows manually and install the driver through the Windows Device Manager, as well. So you should be familiar with performing either one of those tasks.

And finally, once you have the driver installed, the hardware is put into your system, you can check the Windows Device Manager and it will tell you what the status is of that hardware. If everything is performing perfectly, it will tell you that the device is working as it should. If there any problems with the installation of the driver, there will be a message that will give you an idea of where to go next to troubleshoot that particular problem.

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Category: CompTIA A+ 220-901

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