Build Your Own PC: Video/Graphics and Sound Cards
This mini-section of the Build
Your Own PC section of this website, which provides its own contents
menu, is spread over four long pages and
deals with expansion adapter cards and peripheral devices
- graphics cards and sound cards, the keyboard, the mouse
and printers and scanners. More than just installation information
is provided, especially for keyboards,
the mouse and printers/scanners,
all of which are linked in here from their own devoted pages,
due to the fact that the pages covering those devices provide
all of the information and problems and solutions that this
website has to offer on them. There are separate in-depth
sections of this website devoted to providing information
on graphics cards and sound
cards, the latter of which also
deals with speaker systems and headphones, etc.
This article consists of six main sections. You
can access the other five sections by clicking the links below.
The Expansion Cards and
The following set of pages is devoted to the following adapter
cards and peripheral devices. Click the relevant heading to
go to the information on that subject.
and Sound Cards
Visit the Video & Graphics section
of this website for more detailed information on video/graphics
cards than is provided on this page. Visit the Sound
Cards and Sound section of this website for more detailed
information on sound cards and sound production than is provided
on this page.
You have to take care to make sure that the video/graphics card
of your choice is fully compatible
with your PC's motherboard and operating system, otherwise it
might not function, might only work as an old-style PCI video
card, or might only function in 2D mode, and crash when
working in 3D mode. Sound cards
are less problematic because most of them just need to be installed
in a PCI 2.1 compliant slot, which all ATX motherboards
have had for many years.
If you need to find out what the required system specifications
are for a particular make or model of video/graphics or sound
card its manufacturer's website will provide the information.
You can find out in the motherboard's user manual if your PC's
motherboard supports the required specification.
For example, the Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer sound
card has the following requirements:
- Genuine Intel® Pentium® III
1 GHz, AMD® 1 GHz processor or faster
- Intel, AMD or 100% compatible motherboard chipset
- Microsoft® Windows® XP Service
Pack 2 (SP2) or Window XP Pro x64
- 256MB RAM
- 600MB of free hard disk space
- Available PCI 2.1 slot for the audio card
- CD-ROM/CD-RW or CD/DVD-ROM required for software installation
- Graphics card with DirectX® 9 and OpenGL® compliant
3D graphics accelerator
- Internet connection is required to obtain free PowerDVD
players with Dolby® Digital and DTS™ decoding
- Genuine Intel® Pentium® III
1 GHz, AMD® 1 GHz processor or faster
- Intel, AMD or 100% compatible motherboard chipset
- Microsoft Windows Vista™ 32-bit or 64-bit
- 512 MB RAM
- 600 MB of free hard disk space
- Available PCI 2.1 compliant slot (PCI 2.2 and 2.3 also
- Headphones or amplified speakers (available separately)
- CD-ROM drive installed
- Internet connection is required to obtain free PowerDVD
players with Dolby® Digital and DTS™ decoding
The system requirements for Windows
7 for the above sound card are the same as those for Windows
The VGA, DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort connection
standards and their convertibility
Note that PCI Express graphics cards can now
support up to four different connection standards that connect
the graphics card to monitors, TVs, projectors, etc. These are
analog VGA, digital DVI, digital HDMI and
digital DisplayPort and Mini DisplayPort .
Most of them can be converted to any of the other by using a
suitable cable or adapter. Information about them and their convertibility
is provided in the Graphics
section of this website.
solutions provided by motherboards and processors
Note that both Intel and AMD now
have some of their processors that
provide an integrated (onboard) graphics chip. For example,
Intel's Core i3 and AMD's A-series
Fusion APU processors have onboard graphics
chips. Unless the two graphics chips can run in tandem
in AMD's CrossFire or NVIDIA's SLI mode,
PCs with motherboards that
provide an integrated graphics chip or a graphics card
and which run an Intel or AMD processor
with an integrated graphics chip, will have to have the
motherboard graphics chip or graphics card disabled,
either via a setting in the BIOS or
via the Device
Manager in Windows if the same cannot be achieved
for the graphics chip integrated into the processor.
If both integrated solutions can be disabled, the user
can choose which of the two integrated graphics solutions
to use - or to use a separate graphics card if these
is a free PCI Express x16 slot on the motherboard. However,
note that AMD's new A-series Fusion APU processors
can run in tandem with any AMD graphics card in CrossFire mode.
The following article deals with the prospects for integrated
Talking Heads: Motherboard
Manager Edition, Q4'10, Part 1 -
"We've already talked to product
managers representing the graphics industry. But what
about the motherboard folks? We are back with ten more
unidentified R&D insiders. The platform-oriented industry
weighs in on Intel's, AMD's, and Nvidia's prospects." -
Note that all AMD's and NVIDIA's high-end graphics
cards are now double-slot cards that
are twice as thick as a single-slot card, which means that although
installed in only one slot, they require the space of two PCI
Also note that if you have a small case, you should
measure the space available to a particular graphics card before
buying it. The specifications of all graphics cards, including
their length and height, are provided from the manufacturer's
website. If a card's length or height exceeds the available space,
it cannot be installed. Low-profile cards, designed for small
cases, have half the height of standard-sized cards.
Also note that all the most powerful high-end graphics
cards require one or more 6-pin or 8-pin PCI Express power
connectors provided by the power supply unit as an auxiliary
source of power. Standard Molex power connectors
on a power supply unit (PSU) can be adapted to the 6-pin power
connectors by using an adapter cable costing around £3,
but that is not possible for the 8-pin power connectors. If one
or more of these is required and the power supply unit doesn't
provide them, you will have to buy a new power supply that does.
To install an expansion card into a motherboard
in a desktop PC's case, all you have to do is use a Philips screwdriver
to remove the single screw or clip that screws/clips the metal
cover (blanking plate) over the outlet at the back of the case
of the PCI or AGP or PCI Express (PCI-E)
slot that you want to use, and insert the card in the relevant
slot so that it fills the space left by the cover - always
taking care not to use too much force. Note that some
PC cases use both a screw and a clip
to secure the blanking plate in place.
You must fit an expansion card in its
correct slot. Installing an expansion card in the wrong slot
could make the expansion card or even the computer itself unusable
unless the card or motherboard is replaced.
The image below shows the slot arrangement on a typical desktop-PC
Note that new motherboards do not have any ISA
slots, because ISA adapter cards are no longer being manufactured.
The vast majority of new motherboards now no longer have an AGP graphics-card
slot, which is only used for a graphics card; they have PCI
Express slots of various sizes instead, which can be
used for graphics cards and other adapter/expansion cards. (Note
that most motherboards still provide PCI expansion
slots, which was the standard used for graphics cards before
the AGP standard and new PCI graphics
cards are still on sale.) The next item deals with the PCI
Express x16 slot that is used for graphics
Motherboards: The new x16 PCI Express
The latest video/graphics standard called PCI
Express has almost replaced its forerunner, the AGP standard.
At the time of updating this information (October 2011), new AGP graphics
cards were still available.
The AGP standard was purely a graphics standard,
so the AGP slot can only be used by a graphics card. To
accommodate the new PCI Express standard, the AGP slot's
position on the motherboard, shown in the diagram above, is replaced
by a PCI Express x16 slot.
The image shown above is of an MSI K8N Diamond Plus Socket
939 motherboard with two x16 SLI
PCI Express graphics slots for dual graphics cards and AMD
Athlon 64 and 64 FX processors.
There are two standard PCI slots - the orange slot and
the white slot of the same length next to it on the far top left
side of the board. The PCI Express slots are two long x16 slots
(the longest slots on the board) for two graphics cards in SLImode,
one yellow x4 slot and two short white x1 slots
for other PCI Express devices, such as a sound card, joystick,
dial-up modem, etc. The Asus Xonar D2X PCI Express
sound card is an example of a sound card that uses a PCI
Express x1 slot.
If the motherboard doesn't have the PCI slots
that you require for adapter cards, you'll have to look for equivalent PCI
The following diagram shows the PCI Express x16 and x1 slots,
and the two standard PCI slots on a Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H motherboard.
If you see a description of or come across a graphics
card that has a X2 in its model name, it means that the
card has two graphics processing units (GPUs), in effect making
it two graphics cards in one. An example is the ATI Radeon
HD 4870 X2.
Note that the video/graphics card manufacturer, ATI,
which was purchased by AMD, is now called AMD.
It is possible to install two or even four graphics
cards in a desktop PC using nVidia's SLI technology
or AMD's/ATI's CrossFire/CrossFireX technology, which
the motherboard must support. No motherboard supports both types
of technology, but power supply units can support one or both
types. If you have a motherboard that uses a dual- or quad-core
processor and you want to install a single graphics card with
GPUs (an X2 card), or two or four graphics cards, the PC's power
supply must be recommended by the graphics card(s) manufacturer,
because power is is the utmost importance when you have such
Installing more than one graphics card is just
a matter of installing them in free motherboard slots of the
correct type, but you may have to use a special hard cable to
connect the cards together. The graphics card(s) will come with
everything that is required for the installation, including instructions.
How To Avoid Getting
The Wrong Graphics Card
If you're building your own
computer or upgrading the motherboard and video/graphics
card of an existing computer, you could easily buy a
PCI or an AGP card (both of which were still available
by May 2011) when the motherboard you have requires a
PCI Express card, or vice versa. The computer's motherboard's
manual will tell you all the information you need to
know about the adapter card slots on the motherboard.
If you don't have one, you should be able to download
a copy from the manufacturer's website. To read it, you'll
need a free PDF reader, such as the free Foxit Reader.
Note that almost all free software offers to install a
web-browser or browser toolbar, so don't blindly accept
any pre-checked options unless you want to have to remove
add-ons or browsers that you don't want to use.
you should always match the video/graphics card to
the rest of the system. There is no point in buying
a high end graphics card for an entry level or old
or elderly PC. In a PC game, the video/graphics card
creates the scene and makes the action take place,
but it is the main processor that instructs the video
card what to do. The processor can be likened to the
conductor and the video card to the orchestra, so if
you have a slow conductor the orchestra is going to
play the game slow even if it can play it at its full
The User Installation Manual
If you purchase a retail boxed graphics card or sound card it
will come with an user installation manual that shows how all
of the features of the card are used. If you purchased an Original
Equipment Manufacturer - OEM -
video or sound card that is supported by the vendor instead of
the manufacturer, you will probably have to download the manual,
and perhaps even the device-driver executable file from the manufacturer's
How to install a video/graphics card or
Note well that you should touch
the case to remove any static electricity from your body before
you handle electronic components. The computer should be plugged
into the wall socket with its power turned off so that the
case is earthed.
Installing a graphics card into a new, bare motherboard is
an easy task that merely involves having the PC switched off
but leaving it connected to the mains so that it is earthed,
opening the side of the case (usually the right side with the
front of the case facing you) that gives access to the PC's components,
slotting that type of card (PCI, AGP or PCI Express) into the
correct slot and then screwing it to the case.
Before you install an upgrade graphics/video
card, you should uninstall the current card's device driver
in the Start => Control
Panel => Add or Remove Programs in Windows
XP (under Programs and Features in Windows
Vista and Windows 7), where
the driver should have the same name as or a similar name to
the card, switch the computer off, remove the old card and
install the new one. Restarting the computer will make Windows
search for new hardware when it detects the new card and install
its drivers. If Windows asks for a driver disc or location
from which to install the drivers, you can insert the disc
with the driver file or point it to where you have downloaded
and saved the latest driver file from the card-manufacturer's
or brand-name computer's website.
Due to laptop-specific customisation,
laptop graphics-card drivers must be obtained from the laptop
manufacturer's not the
card manufacturer's website. If Windows has the drivers in
its drivers library and installs them, you can download and
install the latest driver file from the relevant manufacturer's
If Windows start up using its own basic driver, the images on
the screen will look much bigger than normal because the driver
uses a low screen resolution, such as 640x480, that can only
display a limited amount of graphical information on the screen.
The higher the screen resolution, the more information that
can be displayed on the screen, so the smaller the graphics display
appears and vice versa. (With a 640x480 screen resolution most
of the information won't be displayed, making scrolling horizontally
and vertically necessary to view it.) You can then install the
card's drivers from its driver disc or download and install the
card's drivers for the version of Windows you are using from
its manufacturer's website. A reboot is usually required after
graphics-card drivers have been installed.
When the correct drivers are installed for, say, an LCD
monitor and its display is set to its natural screen resolution
(under Display in the Control Panel)
the display should appear as it normally does.
Installing a PCI (redundant technology, but you can still
buy PCI graphics cards that support DirectX 9.0 that,
as such, are compatible with Windows
7 - the latest versions of Windows until Oct 26 2012 when
Windows 8 is released), AGP (outgoing technology - the cards
are also still available), or PCI Express video/graphics card
(current technology) is merely a matter of opening the case and
removing the screw/clip that screws/clips the metal cover (blanking
plate over the slot's outlet at the back of the case, and then
inserting the card in its slot so that its face plate replaces
the metal cover and shows at the back of the case. Note that
some PC cases use both a screw and a clip to secure the blanking
plate in place.
Just make sure that the card is inserted
all the way into the slot.
Note that there are occasions when screwing the card in too
tightly raises its end out of the slot and causes an error that
can render the computer unbootable.
If you installed an AGP graphics card (the graphics standard
used prior to the PCI Express standard), even if you were sure
that it was properly seated in its slot, it still may not be
properly seated. Remove the AGP card and reinstall it, making
sure that it completely seated.
If the motherboard has an AGP retention
mechanism on its AGP slot, which most
motherboard's don't have, it keeps the card in place, so make
sure that the notch on the AGP card fully engages the
mechanism. One of the most common reasons for a loose AGP card
is that the screw used to secure it to the case may lift the
card partially out of its slot. This problem is rare with high-quality
cases and AGP cards, but quite common with cheap components.
There are different types of retention mechanism. To remove
the card means having to disengage the mechanism, which can
sometimes be difficult to do. The motherboard's user manual,
a copy of which should be available as a PDF document
from its manufacturer's site, should provide illustrated information
on how to install a graphics card if a retention mechanism
A source of well illustrated motherboard manuals is the MSI website,
msi.com. Just pick a motherboard and download its user manual.
Most motherboard manuals provide drawings or images showing
how to install cards and RAM memory in the motherboard. There
are also hundreds or thousands of websites, including this website,
that provide that information.
When installing components, be patient
at all costs, and never force any component into place.
Always use your common sense to determine the spacing of
the components. For example, if you are installing a graphics
card that has its own cooling unit fitted to the main chip,
if possible, don't smother it by installing it near or in
between other adapter cards. Give it space to expel the heat
it generates. The build up of heat is one of the most common
causes of system failures.
Note that many motherboards
with an AGP slot have it positioned so closely
to the DIMM memory slots that the RAM modules
have to be removed before the video card can be installed, and
the video card has to be removed in order to remove or add RAM modules.
It is not unusual to hear that someone has tried to install an NVIDIA
GeForce graphics card and the installed RAM modules
have knocked off some of the card's protruding capacitors, thereby
rendering it useless. This situation would not have been a problem
if the obvious and necessary installation procedures were taken.
Furthermore, very often the first PCI slot on the motherboard
is positioned too close to the AGP/PCI Express slot. If
an adapter card is installed in that PCI slot, it would
deprive the AGP/PCI Express graphics card of air, and
might cause it to function abnormally, or to be damaged by overheating.
Some motherboard reviews provide useful information of that
Personally, I would not purchase a motherboard until I had read
all of the reviews of it on the Internet or in computer magazines.
If you want to see a PCI Express graphics card
installed, watch these videos:
How to install a PCI Express graphics
Tiger How-To: Install a Graphics Card and
its device drivers in Your PC -
How Much Power Does Your Graphics
Card Need? : 3D Performance Requires The Most Electricity -
The procedure for installing the graphics card drivers is much
the same for Windows XP, Windows
7 and Windows 8.
Removing a graphics driver in order to reinstall it, or before
shutting down the system to install a new graphics card, can
be done from Add or Remove Programs in
Windows XP and via Hardware and Sound => Programs
and Features in Windows Vista and Windows
7 if there is an entry for it, can also be done
by right-clicking on the card's entry under Display
adapters in the Device
Manager, which can be opened
by entering devmgmt.msc in the Start => Run box
in XP and the Start => Search... box
You shouldn't need to install the drivers manually in Windows
95/98/Me/XP/Vista, or in Windows
7. If PnP OS (plug-and-play operating system) is
enabled in the BIOS setup program, those
versions of Windows will automatically detect the card, and
you will have the option to allow it to install the driver
it has in its driver library, or select to do so from a CD/DVD,
or from a download folder containing the latest driver file
downloaded from the card's manufacturer's website.
Note well that most new motherboards now
only provide the device drivers for the versions of Windows
that Microsoft still supports, which, for home users are Windows
XP and Windows Vista and Windows 7). If you
install a graphics or sound card in computers running a version
of Windows, such as Windows 98, that the manufacturer
does not provide device drivers for, it will use its standard VGA driver
that only supports a screen resolution of 640x480 pixels -
the resolution that all versions of Windows from Windows
XP to Windows 7 use in Safe
Dual video card technology
It has recently become possible install two PCI
Express video cards on a single motherboard. You can install
as many graphics cards as the motherboard provides slots, but
you have to get them working together to increase performance
in game playing, etc. NVIDIA calls its dual-card
technology SLI, which stands for Scalable Link Interface. AMD/ATI calls
its dual-card technology CrossFire.
The two cards can have a configuration of 2, 3,
or 4 GPUs (graphics processing units). The following link shows
two ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2 (dual-GPU) graphics cards installed
on an MSI K9A2 Platinum motherboard, which gives
four GPUs in AMD/ATI's new CrossFireX platform.
AMD's CrossFireX: Tri & Quad GPU
High-end PCI Express graphics cards require to be connected
to the power supply unit (PSU) via one or two special 6-pin or
at least one 8-pin PCI Express power connectors that provide
extra power from the PC's power
supply unit (PSU), because not enough power can be delivered
via the slot connector. If you use two such cards, you need a
power supply unit that provides enough PCI Express power
connectors. Standard Molex power
can be converted to 6-pin PCI Express power connectors with an
adapter cable costing around £3, but the 8-pin power connectors
that the latest and most powerful graphics cards use cannot be
converted from a Molex power connector. A new
power supply will have to be purchased if your computer's power
supply doesn't provide the number of 8-pin connectors required.
The image below shows where the two 6-pin PCI
power connectors from the power supply unit are connected on
an AMD Radeon HD 6790 graphics card.
The following webpage shows images of all of the
connectors provided by a modern desktop-PC power-supply unit,
including the PCI Express power connector that connects
to a graphics card to provide extra power.
If a particular power supply unit doesn't have
the required number of PCI Express connectors, it's possible
to buy an converter cable that is fitted to a standard Molex power connector of the kind that fits to standard IDE ATA (non-SATA) disk drives that changes it into one.
An good example of a power supply that provides PCI Express power
connectors is the Akasa Power80+ 500W unit.
(Akasa also make excellent cases). It has "Two
CPU 12V connectors" that combine to make an 8-pin connector
(required by some motheboards) or spit in two to make a 4-pin
connector (required by some motherboards) and "PCI-E connectors
for multiple dual GPU", which translates as PCI
Express connectors for multiple graphics cards.
You can visit the company's website at akasa.com.tw. The power
supplies are categorised as Standard, Main
Stream, and Performance, plus a category
called Power Cable Adapters, which are all of
the available cable adapters that bridge the previous power-supply
standard with the current one.
You can enter the make and model in a web search
engine to locate reviews and vendors.
The user manual for an NVIDIA-based or ATI/AMD-based
graphics card will provide installation instructions. At first,
a dual-card configuration required that the two cards were physically
linked by a bridge, but now the link is created by the the device
Click here! to
go to information on this site on PCI Express and dual-card
A problem installing adapter cards in
a Windows XP system
I have purchased a new motherboard and installed
it in my Windows XP system; successfully for the most
part, but whenever I try to install a sound card or network
card, and then boot the system I get the message, "An
error has occurred during the installation of this device.
The data is invalid." For some reason, I have
not been able to install an AGP video card, but I have been
able to install an old PCI video card. I have also tried unsuccessfully
to install two different makes of network and sound card. The
other measures I have taken to rectify the problem are: - reflashed
the BIOS with the latest update, and tried replacing Windows
XP with its forerunner, Windows 2000. Because the same error
occurs with both versions of Windows, I suspect that the problem
has to be hardware-related.
A possible solution
The usual cause of this problem in Windows
2000/XP systems is Registry keys that are set
From the Start menu, click Run and
enter regeditto run the Registry Editor. Open
the following - Keys => HKey_Local_machine => System => CurrentControlSet => Enum => PCI.
You will see several keys in this form - Ven_xxxx -
where xxxx represents a string such as - 1102&Dev_004&Subsys_00011103&Rev_04.
In each of these folders there is another folder
that has a long numerical name. Open each of these folders,
and look for the DeviceDesc entry that matches the type
of hardware that you are trying unsuccessfully to install.
Use the right mouse button to click on the Ven_xxxx entry
for that device, and click Permissions. If it is set
to read-only, then that is the cause of the problem. To rectify
it, change it to Allow Full Control.
More installation information...
Often the power plugs are a devil to remove from drives, and
adapter cards (especially old ISA cards) can be a devil
to install. Sometimes the card will slip into the slot, most PCI , AGP and PCI
Express cards do, but sometimes you will have to apply
quite a bit of pressure. If the card won't go in, be patient
and keep trying, but never get angry and try too much force,
because you could crack the motherboard or damage the edge connector
on the card.
If you feel the motherboard bending, hold the edge with one
hand while doing the inserting with the other hand. If the motherboard
is cracked it will render the computer useless until it is replaced.
An ISA card (redundant technology) will fit in a long
black ISA slot, which new motherboards no longer have.
A PCI card fits into one of the shorter slots that are
usually white. Try not to use the PCI slot next to the
x16 PCI Express slot, or the even shorter brown AGP slot,
which is used for AGP video cards only. (Note that most
motherboards only have PCI Express slots or
an AGP slot, not both, and no new motherboards
provide an AGP slot now.) Remember that these slots can now be
of any colour on recent motherboards.
If the motherboard you have chosen or purchased does not have
a video/graphics card (graphics accelerator) and sound card,
you will have to choose which cards to buy and then decide where
to buy them. You could ask the advice of the staff at large or
small retail computer vendors, or select from a catalogue in
a PC magazine, or use an online store and buy by mail order.
Or you could find out which cards are being used in well-reviewed
PCs of the kind that you want to build. You could also ask the
advice of the members of online computer forums, such as the
one at tomshardware.com.
When most ISPs provided only dial-up connections, you would
also have had to choose an internal or external modem. However,
now that broadband connections are available to most of the country,
you usually only have to decide on an Internet Service Provider
(ISP), such as O2, Virgin
Media, etc. The ISP you choose will
then provide you with an external broadband modem or a router.
A wireless router allows you to
share a broadband connection with as many computers with wireless
adapters installed as you want. However, no more than ten other
workstations can connect to your computer at one time if you
are using Windows XP Professional. The limit
is five workstations for Windows XP Home Edition.
For more details, see the following MS Knowledge Base
Inbound Connections Limit in Windows
That situation is unlikely to be different in a wireless Windows
Vista network. At the time of writing (July 2008),
I could not find any information on this on the web.
Dial-up connections are still available. If you want to make
use of one, you will have to install an internal 56K modem or
use an external 56K modem. The V.92 standard is the latest, so
you require a V.92 dial-up modem. Visit this site for more information
on dial-up modems: modemsite.com.
If your sound and video requirements only extend to using applications
and accessing the Internet, buying an ATX case and motherboard
(that can run your choice of processor) with inbuilt video and
sound chips makes good sense. You will save money, and when you
want to upgrade the system all you have to do is buy another
motherboard with inbuilt sound and video, add a new processor and
and you will have a new system.
In my experience, the staff at most computer stores are not
very knowledgeable or helpful. Working on a commission basis,
they will usually try to sell you the most expensive components.
Or they will sell you exactly what you ask for, even if you could
make a better or more economical purchase.
If you want to install a sound card to play audio CDs, to accompany
DVD movies, or MPEG/AVI video files, or to listen to websites
with sound content, etc., almost any new sound card, even ones
costing between £15 and £20 will suffice.
But if you want to use the sound card for recording and editing
MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) files, etc., and
you want full surround sound for heavy-duty PC gaming, etc.,
you should purchase an expensive sound card that will do what
you require of it.
The video and sound cards, or motherboard (if the sound and
video chips are built into it) will come with the CDs containing
the software device drivers, and
the installation instructions. If your PC's operating system
(usually a version of Windows) has the correct drivers in its
library, it will load them automatically. You can of course download
driver updates from the web and install them (usually just by
clicking on an .exe file) any time
Click Monitors to read the information
on LCD/CRT monitors on this website.
You will of course have to purchase a set
of speakers in order to be able to hear the sound. The
price of these can vary from £15 for a basic set of speakers
that come with an external power supply, to hundreds of pounds
for a full surround-sound speaker system.
On a basic sound card that is connected to two speakers, they
are usually plugged into the sound card's Speakers Out or Line
Out socket, as shown in the motherboard's manual if the sound
chip is built into the motherboard, or as in the sound card's
manual for a PCI or PCI Express sound
card. A PCI Express card, such as the Creative
Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio sound card, uses a x1 PCI
Express slot on a motherboard that provides one or more
The Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio sound card
can turn downloaded music into a personal concert, allows you
to watch DVDs or downloaded videos with full cinematic surround
sound, and provides 3D audio and EAX effects
in PC games.
But if you have a fancy sound card card that is capable
of being connected to many speakers to produce a surround-sound
effect, you will have to read its manual to find out how to connect
the different speakers. You don't have to use all of the speaker
ports. If you have purchased a set of two speakers, you can plug
them in using the Front Speakers or Back Speakers port.
But if you only want to use two speakers, you should purchase
a basic sound card that has only a Line Out port for them.
Most speakers will have their own power supply unit, but they
should produce sound at a low volume if they are left to draw
power from being attached to the sound card. Most speaker systems
require their own power supply unit to be plugged into the wall
for optimal performance, and most of them have to be turned on
by pushing a switch somewhere on one of the speakers.
I can remember helping someone with a sound problem. He had
everything connected properly. The sound card was installed properly,
the Windows Device Manager showed that
the drivers had been installed properly under the Sound, video
and game controllers menu item, the sound cable to the CD-ROM
drive was properly connected, the two speakers were plugged into
the Line Out socket on the sound card, but the sound that
issued from the speakers was barely audible with the volume control
in the system tray (in the bottom right hand corner of the screen)
set at the maximum.
He was threatening to take the system back to the dealer when
I said, "But you haven't switched the speakers on." I
pushed the On button on one of the speakers, and the sound
came out full ball, loud and clear. He had assumed the speakers
were like the ones he had on his stereo music centre that only
required to be plugged in.
For more information on setting up a sound system, try using
a search query such as pc sound
system setup guide in a web search engine.