Author:- Stephen Harrison, B.Sc., M.Sc., MBCS, CITP, MInstM
Sharing over 20 years of IT experience with you 
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How To Install
Sound Card Instructions

The how to install sound card tutorial walks you through the simple steps of physically installing a sound card. This is part 2 of a 4 part tutorial series.

Part 1, sound card definition, explains what a sound card is. It also explains what modern audio cards can be used for.

Part 3 looks at how to install creative labs sound card drivers. If you want your new sound card to work correctly, you need to install the drivers. The process is similar for all types of audio cards.

Sound card not working? The 4th and final part of the tutorial series looks at what you can do if you are having problems.

Take this opportunity to write your own web page, detailing your own sound card activities and experiences, by completing the form at the bottom of this page.

Read what other visitors have said about their experiences in this area.


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Installing A Sound Card

The how to install sound card process is straightforward, but can be daunting if you have never done it before.

Therefore, I have outlined the basic sound card installation steps, and included a 10-minute video demonstrating the entire process.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video must be worth much more, right? The video is from a typical home PC user. I think it captures the steps well.

You will find installing a sound card is straightforward after working your way through this tutorial.

This gives you the confidence to try it for yourself and be your own computer support technician!

The following steps guide you through the installation process:-

  • Restart or switch on your computer, and enter your BIOS to disable the integrated sound card; assuming your computer has one - most modern machines do.

  • Switch off your PC and unplug it from the wall.

  • Unplug your monitor, keyboard, mouse and any other peripherals you have connected to your machine, e.g. printer, USB stick, etc.

  • Remove the top of your computer case. How you do this depends on the type of computer chassis you have. You may need to remove some screws, push two buttons at each side of the case, and/or lift a leaver. 

    Refer to your computer manual to work out how to do this.

  • If you have a tower chassis, lay it on its side, motherboard down, then remove the side panel.

Open Tower Chassis With Side Panel RemovedHow To Install Sound Card Tutorial
Open Tower Chassis With Side Panel Removed

  • Put the screws, or anything else that needs to be re-attached to your PC case, in a safe place so you don't lose them. From experience, I can tell your computer case screws grow legs and run away!

  • I recommended wearing an anti-static wristband. This prevents static build up which can damage the computer hardware components inside your machine.

    If you don't have one, buy one. Alternatively, you can touch a metal object to ground yourself. If you do this make sure you do it properly. 

Wristband For Protection Against Static Electricity When Working Inside Of PC'sHow To Install Sound Card Tutorial
Wristband For Protection Against Static Electricity When Working Inside Of PC's

  • Are you replacing an existing card? If so, remove the screw that pins the sound card to the computer case, then remove it by carefully pulling it from the PCI slot with both hands.

    Be careful when removing internal components. Don't bend the card. Pull it vertically. If it is difficult to remove, pinch either end of the component and rock it until it comes loose.

  • If there is no existing sound card, identify which PCI slot you are going to use. If possible, pick one that has the most surrounding space.

    For example, if I have 3 free PCI slots next to each other, I'll use the middle one.

Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) SlotsHow To Install Sound Card Tutorial
Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) Slots

  • Remove the metal plate for the identified PCI slot. A screw may need to be removed. In some PCs, you push the metal plate out of position.

A Computer Blanking Plate Being RemovedA Computer Blanking Plate Being Removed

  • Insert your new diamond sound card (or whatever make you have bought). Align it correctly with the PCI slot. 

    The 'gap' in the PCI sound card connector aligns with the raised bit(s) in the PCI slot. 

    Look at the PCI slot image with the red box above. The gap in the sound card PCI connector in the image below (red box) align with the highlighted raised bits on the PCI slot. 


Sometimes they have more than one gap. This is OK. Just align the raised bit with the appropriate gap if only one exists

A Close Up Of The PCI Connectors On A Sound CardA Close Up Of The PCI Connectors On A Sound Card

  • Carefully push or rock the sound card gently into the PCI slot. Make sure both ends of the card are firmly clipped in place. You should be able to see the sound card ports on the outside of your machine.

  • Connect your CD/DVD drive to your new sound card if applicable. The audio cable comes with the CD/DVD drive. 

    Connect one end to the CD-In socket on the card, and the other end into the Audio Out socket on your CD/DVD drive. Each part is highlighted in the images below.

A Close Up Of A CD/DVD Audio CableA Close Up Of A CD/DVD Audio Cable

A Close Up Of A CD/DVD Audio Out PortA Close Up Of A CD/DVD Audio Out Port

A Close Up Of A Sound Card CD In PortA Close Up Of A Sound Card CD In Port

  • Screw the new sound card to the computer case and put the computer case back together. You are confident this will work first time, right...? 

    IT technician professionals will leave the case open and test the new device before putting the case back together. 

    This is because it saves time if there is a reason to remove or replace the component.

  • Reconnect all your peripherals: Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, Printer, Speakers etc., and replace the computer chassis lid/case as required.

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How To Install Sound Card | Final Thoughts

This tutorial shows you just how straightforward the process is. The next step is to switch on your machine and install the sound card drivers. This is covered in part 3 of the series.

If you find the steps above a little confusing, I recommend watching the video below. It will hopefully clarify the sound card installation process for you.

If you would like to read more about the how to install sound card process, take a look at the PC Hardware site (Opens New Window) for another description on how to install a sound card.

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What Do You Use Your Sound Card For?

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Asus Xonar Essence STX 
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