Free computer hardware tutorials

Installing Expansion Cards and Connecting the Front Panel

PC expansion cards provide extra functionality and features than built-in components. Whether it's a video card, sound card, or network card, the procedure for installing them is basically the same. I'm going to install a PCI sound card.

To begin, find a PCI slot (blue in the image below). Notice in each one there is a notch close to the right side of the slot. If you're looking from the other angle it will be on the left.

PCI Slots

Next, look at the card and notice the gaps in the contacts.

PCI Card

Now, arrange the card so the ports face outside the case. Place the card into the slot. One of the gaps in the contact should fit over the notch on the slot. Press down on the ends of the card until you hear it snap into place. Secure it by screwing the handle to the case.

PCI Card Installation

PCI Card Installation

Front Panel Connectors:
Front panel connectors allow things on the front of the case, such as the power button, reset switch, power LED, internal speakers, and hard drive LED to function. They are two rows of pins located right on the edge of the motherboard and are usually individually labeled. Connecting these is basically the final step in building a PC.

Front Panel Connectors

The wires that connect to these extend from the front inside of the case and are also labeled.

Front Panel Wires

Since pin arrangement varies from board to board, it's best to check the motherboard manual for proper connection instructions.

In addition to these, most cases contain front panel USB, Firewire, and audio connectors. Their motherboard pins are usually near the others.

Finished PC
Finished PC!