Sound cards are devices that handle the translation of data to audio signals in a computer. They plug into a slot on the computer's motherboard; on modern systems, the slot type is known as "PCI." Higher-end sound cards will produce better-quality sound, and also potentially have more options and input/output ports available. Upgrading an old sound card with a new one may seem like a daunting task to someone that is not comfortable with computers, but the process is actually fairly simple and can save time and money.
Turn off your PC and unplug the power cord.
Use a screwdriver to open the computer's case. Normally two or three screws can be removed from the back of the case to loosen the left side panel to access the appropriate area on the motherboard to install cards.
Locate and uninstall the old sound card. Follow the cord from your speakers to the back of your computer. Your old sound card will be the device that the speakers are plugged into. Unplug the speakers and any other devices plugged into the card, remove the single screw mounting the card in place if present, then pull the card straight out of its slot with moderate and even pressure. You can wiggle it a bit if necessary to get it loose.
Install the upgrade card in the open PCI slot. Position the new sound card in the newly opened slot and push it in firmly so that the gold connectors sink all the way into the slot. The back of the card should be flush against the back of the computer, so that you can screw the retaining screw back in place to secure the new card.
Close the computer's case, plug in the cords and start it up.
Insert the software driver CD that came with your new sound card and use it to install audio drivers. Once the automatic installation is complete, restart your computer.
- You may wish to check the website of the manufacturer of your new sound card periodically for software driver updates.
- If your computer originally used onboard sound -- that is, a sound chip built onto the motherboard instead of a card plugged into a slot -- you do not need to physically uninstall an old card before installing the new one.
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