The mysterious world of computer hardware is understandable intimidating for even the savviest of programmers and internet gamers. However, optimising your computing experience is as much about proper equipment and installation as it is about using the right programs. One common way to improve the graphics on a PC, for example, is the installation of an advanced graphics card into the unit's PCI bus. However, this process is a bit complex and involves understanding what the PCI bus is and how to safely work around it.
Understanding the PCI Connection
PCI, short for peripheral component interconnect, is a type of interface which provides a connection to the motherboard of a computer. A PCI graphics card contains a set number of pins, 47 to be exact, which match up to the interface within the PCI bus of the computer. Other than PCI, graphics cards connect via advanced graphic ports (AGP) and PCI Express (PCIe) which use different connection pins and patterns and also transfer data at different rates. Before proceeding with a PCI graphics card installation, it is important to make sure that the connections are available within the computer. In other words, be sure you need a PCI card and not a PCIe graphics card, for example.
Taking Safety Precautions When Working with a PCI Bus
Because it is located within the belly of your PC and hooked into the all-important motherboard, taking proper safety precautions when working with a PCI bus and installing a graphics card is important for your safety as well as for the health of your computer. Minimally, this means ensuring the unit is unplugged from the wall. It is also a good idea to wear an antistatic strap when working within the computer itself or otherwise make sure to touch a grounded metal surface at all times when working inside the computer.
Installing a PCI Graphics Card
The actual process of installing a PCI graphics card is quite simple. Begin by removing the side panel of the PC to access its interior systems. Locate one of the several 47-pin PCI slots on your motherboard. The number of available slots varies according to the motherboard, but there are at least three. You must then remove a screw-mounted bracket protecting the slot in order to access it for card installation. Place the mount aside as you will need it later, and then gently align the card's tabs with those 47 pins. Press firmly to snap the card into place with the mount and test to see it is secure. Then, locate the mounting bracket screw and replace it within the bracket, securing snugly to ensure that the card stays in place. Finally, replace the outer door of the computer.