By Andy Rathbone

You can upgrade your computer’s video card easily — just install a new card in place of the old. Cards are particularly susceptible to static electricity, so tap your computer’s case to ground yourself before touching the card. Cards are also delicate, so don’t bend them. Handle them only by their edges. Also, those little silver dots on one side of the card can be sharp; don’t scratch yourself.

1Turn off your PC, unplug it, and remove your computer’s case.

Your computer should have either a PCI-Express 16x or AGP slot for your card. The card won’t fit into the wrong slot, so you can’t go wrong. But don’t confuse your computer’s thin memory slots for its video card slot.

2With a small screwdriver, remove the screw holding in the old card or the metal cover.

Don’t lose that screw! You need it to secure the new card in place.

3If you’re replacing an old card, pull it up and out of the slot (left).

If you’re not replacing an old card, remove the metal cover from the back of your computer (right).

4Hold the card by its edges and position it over the correct slot.

The edge with the shiny metal bracket should face toward the back of your computer. (That shiny bracket replaces the cover, if you removed one.)

5Line up the tabs and notches on the card’s bottom with the notches in the slot. Push the card slowly into the slot.

You may need to rock the card back and forth gently. When the card pops in, you can feel it come to rest. Don’t force it!

6If the video slot has it, bend out the flexible plastic retaining clip that fits over a tab on the end of the video card.

When the card fits into the slot, release the clip, letting it hold the card in place.

7Secure the card in the slot with the screw you removed in Step 3, then plug the computer back in, turn it on, and see whether Windows recognizes and installs the card.

Windows usually recognizes newly installed cards and sets them up to work correctly.

8If everything’s working, put your PC’s cover back on.

If something goes wrong, turn off your computer, unplug it, and make sure you’ve seated the card correctly.

9Visit the manufacturer’s Web site to download and install the latest drivers.

Card manufacturers, especially video card manufacturers, constantly update their drivers to fix bugs.