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Copyright 2011 by Morris Rosenthal

All Rights Reserved

Replacing a Video Card

Copyright 2011 by Morris Rosenthal -All Rights Reserved contact info

Illustrated How to Replace an AGP Video Card

Video cards are pretty reliable, though some of the newer ones run so hot that they have their own cooling systems, and if the fan fails, the video processor can't be too far behind. Almost all systems you crack open these days will feature an AGP video card, only the oldest system have PCI video and only the very newest feature PCI Express. The first step to installing a video card is opening up the case, which varies with non-standard systems, but for a normal mid-tower, it means two screws at the most. You want to remove the side that's above the motherboard, which you can easily determine by looking at the back of the case. The I/O core at the bottom with the ports is attached to the motherboard. As soon as the lid is off, we remove the video card hold-down screw.
The truth is that there are few PC jobs easier than installing the video card. Most AGP slots lack the latch that the cards were designed to accept on the back edge. That latching point is clearly visible on the old ATI video card we're replacing, you can see the "L" shape under the four video memory chips on the right side of the card. If the motherboard had supported a lock, it would have closed over the "L." In fact, the primary failure mode for AGP video cards is when they pop partially out of the slot on their own (or because the monitor cable pulls them up), so before you assume any video card is dead, you should reseat it in the slot and give it another try.
Our replacement 3D AGP video card is shown here over the brown AGP slot. Yes, they are always brown, or at least they're supposed to be. You can see the key slot in the card edge that with a few orphan exceptions, will prevent you from installing the wrong voltage video card in the slot. Only the oldest 1X and 2X AGP video slots had any compatibility issues. The 4X cards were probably the most common, they are now being replaced by 8X AGP, but PCI Express will take over soon, so the majority of PCs in use will never feature the 8X AGP cards. You usually have to replace an AGP video card with the same speed since the existing card will be the fastest the motherboard could use. Handle the video card by the corners and don't touch the gold contact fingers because the oil from your skin can degrade the electrical signals.
Once you have the video card positioned properly over the AGP slot, seat it evenly by pressing down on the top edge at both the front and back of the card (left). Once it's seated, install the retaining screw on the back rail (below), then inspect the card to make sure it's still fully seated in the slot. On poorly designed motherboards or cases, installing the screw can cause the video card to pivot on the back of the slot and lose contact with the front of the slot. That pretty much covers how to replace an AGP video card, unless you count installing the software drivers as a step. Just use the CD that comes with the video card and hopefully there'll be a wizard:-)

Before you replace anything, troubleshoot the video adapter!