When getting a new system or upgrading an existing computer one thing that most people consider high on the list is great graphics. Video and graphical content is the core of the computing and entertainment experience. Before you begin you need to find out what type of expansion slot your PC has inside of it for video. The first slot next to the power supply is usually the PCI Express (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) expansion slot. It will be visibly different from the other expansion slots (usually PCI). slot You will need to remove the side of the computer to access the expansion slots and verify that the video is in slot 1. Next you need to select a new video card to purchase. There are many on the market and various connections (like PCI-Express or PCI) which can be confusing. For most PCs the video will be a version of PCI-Express. It should be noted that PCI slots are not cross-compatible with PCI-Express. When selecting a new video card there are a number of things you should consider beyond the best price:

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  • GPU (graphics processing unit) or not? GPUs are computer chips on the video card itself.
  • Memory size – the bigger the memory the better the graphics
  • Memory speed – DDR3 (double data rate) is twice the speed of DDR2
  • External ports – HDMI will send sound and video while DVI/VGA are the standards for monitors
  • Expansion slot size (some desktops have half height slots due to design)

Once you have the video card it’s just a matter of opening the desktop case to access the expansion slots and replacing the card in the first slot with your new purchase. Installation is simple even for the novice as the manufacturer provides detailed instructions.

Don’t be surprised if your system will require additional updates.

When you start-up your system it should auto identify the graphics card and attempt to find the driver. In Windows this may or may not identify your new video card but don’t worry. Once the system is booted you can go in and fix the video driver by selecting [Start->Control Panel->System->Hardware->Device Manager] will pull up a listing of all the drivers.