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Be aware of the following when installing video cards:

  • Video cards must be compatible with the buses or slots on the¬†motherboard. Common slot types used by video cards are:
    • Current video cards typically use AGP and PCI express slots.
    • Video cards in PCIe slots usually require 16x slots. AGP video cards use either 4x or 8x slots.
    • Older cards used PCI and VESA slots.
  • Some motherboards include a built-in video card integrated on the Northbridge chip. This video card is actually part of one of the buses on the system (PCIe, AGP, or PCI).
  • In addition to the bus type, select the video card based on the graphics processor type and speed, the amount and type of video memory, as well as the supported resolution and color depth.
  • Video input allows your video card to accept a video signal from an external source, such as a DVD player or an external TV tuner box, and display it on the monitor.
  • A TV tuner allows your video card to accept a cable TV input and change channels from within the computer. TV tuners can process one or more of the following signals:
    • NTSC, PAL, and SECAM are analog TV signal standards. NTSC was used in North America but is being phased out.
    • ATSC signals are digital TV signals. When purchasing a new TV tuner, make sure it supports ATSC.
  • If you plan on watching HDCP protected content on your PC, or playing content from your PC to an external TV, make sure the video card supports HDCP.
  • Many newer PCI Express cards require a special 6-pin or 8-pin power connector. Be sure to connect the power after inserting the card in the system and prior to turning the system on.
  • If the motherboard has onboard video, disable the onboard video in the BIOS when installing a card in the bus slot.
  • For increased performance, especially in games, you can install multiple video cards and link those cards together so that multiple GPUs draw a single screen.
    • Scalable Link Interface (SLI) from nForce and CrossFire from ATI are two different methods for linking video cards.
    • Cards are linked using a special bridge clip or through software (depending on the implementation).
    • The motherboard and the video cards must each support the selected method (either SLI or CrossFire). The motherboard must have multiple 16x PCIe slots.
    • In most cases you will need to install identical video cards, or at least video cards with very similar specifications.
    • In some cases, you can link the onboard graphic controller with a video card installed in a single PCIe slot.
    • Connect the monitor to an output port on the first video card.
  • After installing the card, boot the system and install the driver for the card.