Computer Support/Hardware/Expansion Cards

This lesson covers expansion cards.

Objectives and Skills Edit

Objectives and skills for the expansion cards portion of A+ certification include:[1]

Install and configure PC expansion cards.
  • Sound cards
  • Video cards
  • Network cards
  • USB cards
  • Firewire cards
  • Thunderbolt cards
  • Storage cards
  • Modem cards
  • Wireless/cellular cards
  • TV tuner cards
  • Video capture cards
  • Riser cards

Readings Edit

  1. Read Wikipedia: Expansion card.
    1. Read Wikipedia: Video card.
    2. Read Wikipedia: Sound card.
    3. Read Wikipedia: Network interface controller.
    4. Read Wikipedia: Wireless network interface controller.
    5. Read Wikipedia: TV tuner card.
    6. Read Wikipedia: Riser card.

Multimedia Edit

  1. YouTube: Installing and Configuring Expansion Cards - CompTIA A+ 220-901: 1.4

Activities Edit

  1. Read How Graphics Cards Work on HowStuffWorks Tech.
  2. Read How Sound Cards Work on HowStuffWorks Tech.

Lesson Summary Edit

  • The primary purpose of an expansion card is to provide or expand on features not offered by the motherboard. For example, the original IBM PC did not have on-board graphics or hard drive capability. In that case, a graphics card and an ST-506 hard disk controller card provided graphics capability and hard drive interface respectively. In the case of expansion of on-board capability, a motherboard may provide a single serial RS232 port or Ethernet port. An expansion card can be installed to offer multiple RS232 ports or multiple and higher bandwidth Ethernet ports. In this case, the motherboard provides basic functionality but the expansion card offers additional or enhanced ports.[2]
PCI expansion slot
  • A sound card (also known as an audio card) is an internal computer expansion card that facilitates economical input and output of audio signals to and from a computer under control of computer programs. The term sound card is also applied to external audio interfaces that use software to generate sound, as opposed to using hardware inside the PC. Typical uses of sound cards include providing the audio component for multimedia applications such as music composition, editing video or audio, presentation, education and entertainment (games) and video projection.[3]
A Turtle Beach sound card. PCI bus.
  • Virtually all current video cards are built with either AMD-sourced or Nvidia-sourced graphics chips. Most video cards offer various functions such as accelerated rendering of 3D scenes and 2D graphics, MPEG-2/MPEG-4 decoding, TV output, or the ability to connect multiple monitors (multi-monitor). Video cards also have sound card capabilities to output sound along with the video for connected TVs or monitors with integrated speakers.[4]
A Radeon HD 7970 with the cooler removed, showing the major components of the card.
  • The Network Interface Card (NIC) allows computers to communicate over a computer network, either by using cables or wirelessly. The NIC is both a physical layer and data link layer device, as it provides physical access to a networking medium and, for IEEE 802 and similar networks, provides a low-level addressing system through the use of MAC addresses that are uniquely assigned to network interfaces.[5]
Intel 82574L Gigabit Ethernet NIC, a PCI Express ×1 card, which provides two hardware receive queues[5]
  • A wireless network interface controller (WNIC) is a network interface controller which connects to a radio-based computer network rather than a wire-based network such as Token Ring or Ethernet. A WNIC, just like other NICs, works on the Layer 1 and Layer 2 of the OSI Model. A WNIC is an essential component for wireless desktop computer. This card uses an antenna to communicate through microwaves. A WNIC in a desktop computer usually is connected using the PCI bus. Other connectivity options are USB and PC card. Integrated WNICs are also available, (typically in Mini PCI/PCI Express Mini Card form). The term is usually applied to IEEE 802.11 adapters; it may also apply to a NIC using protocols other than 802.11, such as one implementing Bluetooth connections.[6]
A wireless network interface device with a USB interface and internal antenna
A Bluetooth interface card
  • A TV tuner card is a kind of television tuner that allows television signals to be received by a computer. Most TV tuners also function as video capture cards, allowing them to record television programs onto a hard disk much like the digital video recorder (DVR) does. The interfaces for TV tuner cards are most commonly either PCI bus expansion card or the newer PCI Express (PCIe) bus for many modern cards, but PCMCIA, ExpressCard, or USB devices also exist.[7]
The ATI Twin Wonder TV tuner card
  • A riser card is a board that plugs into the system board and provides additional slots for adapter cards. Because it rises above the system board, it enables you to connect additional adapters to the system in an orientation that is parallel to the system board and save space within the system case. Riser cards are often used to allow adding expansion cards to a system enclosed in a low-profile case where the height of the case doesn't allow for a perpendicular placement of the full-height expansion card.[8]
A riser card inside an old IBM PS/2

Key Terms Edit

References Edit