Expansion Cards – CompTIA A+ 220-1001 – 3.5

The expansion slots in our computers allows for almost unlimited customization options. In this video, you’ll learn about some of the most common expansion cards.

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If you need to extend the capabilities of your motherboard, there’s many options available. And in this video, we’ll look at some of these expansion cards. Today’s motherboards are quite capable. There’s video, network connections, USB connectivity, and many other interfaces available. But occasionally, you may find you want to extend those capabilities, and you can easily do this by adding an expansion card.

It’s a relatively simple process that’s designed for the consumer to be able to install any type of expansion they’d like. You simply install the card onto the motherboard. You install some software drivers, or use drivers that are already built into your operating system, and now you can use the functionality of that expansion card.

Even without an expansion card, your motherboard may provide a number of options for video output. This particular motherboard has onboard video for VGA, DVI, and HDMI, all on the motherboard itself. But of course, if you’re a gamer or you’re someone who wants to do higher-end video editing, you might want a separate expansion card that focuses on these high-end video capabilities. So you need to purchase a video card that will go into the expansion slots available in your computer.

These are usually adapter cards that take up two separate slots in the computer– not necessarily for the hardware itself, but because there are usually fans on these expansion cards that help keep the video card cool. Once this particular card’s installed, you have the options for DVI connectivity, DisplayPort, and HDMI– all on this single card.

There’s also expansion cards available for audio. This higher-end audio system is a good one to use if you’re integrating a set-top-box or a media server onto your existing sound system. You can plug in through existing analog connections, or use a digital connection that will go directly to your sound system.

If your motherboard doesn’t have an ethernet connection, or you’d like to use a different style or speed of ethernet, then you might want to install a separate ethernet card. If you’re on a server, you might want to install a multiport ethernet card. You can see there are multiple ethernet connections on this single card, and that takes up only one expansion slot inside of your computer.

The same applies for USB connections. We’re constantly running out of USB ports, and if you need to extend this, this particular USB expansion card will add four additional USB interfaces, all with one single expansion slot. It’s also common, on many servers, to see one of these PCI Express slots being used for storage.

This is an SSD storage card that allows you to have high-speed SSD storage, all connecting through a single PCI Express expansion slot. And if you need to plug in external storage devices, there are cards like the eSATA card that allows you to have an interface in your computer to plug in those eSATA drives.

Before you purchase the expansion card that you’re going to use, you’re going to want to check the documentation both for the motherboard and for the expansion card. You need to make sure that your motherboard will support the type and the size of the card that you’re installing. The adapter card will need a driver to be able to run on the operating system.

So you not only need to check the hardware on your motherboard, but also check that you’re running the right software for your operating system. It also helps to check the knowledge base for the manufacturer to see if there’s any “gotchas” during the installation process, and it also helps to see if other people are using this interface card, and see what their experience has been during the installation process.

The hardware of the adapter card and the software of the device driver go hand-in-hand. Sometimes the device driver needs to be installed before you install the hardware, and sometimes it’s better to install it after you install the hardware. Make sure you check the manufacturer’s documentation to find out the process they recommend for your system.

Now that we’ve checked the documentation and we know the process we should follow, it’s also a good idea to check the manufacturer’s website to make sure that you have the latest version of the driver. You almost never want to use the version of the driver that might come installed with the hardware. There’s usually bug fixes and updates that are available directly from the manufacturer’s website.

If there are existing device drivers on your system, you may want to uninstall those through the Windows Device Manager. Some manufacturers will provide their own installation program to install that driver. Other manufacturers don’t have a separate installation program, and you must perform a manual installation using the Windows Device Manager. Once you’ve installed the adapter card and installed the drivers, you should be able to see the status of your new adapter card through the Windows Device Manager.