PCI Adapter

Personal computers are designed to be modular so that components can be installed and removed as required. The PCI adapter is one of these modular components and has been a standard way of adding new functions to a computer for many years. It is used for video graphics, networking, sound processing, and many other roles. Installing a PCI adapter is a simple task that can be done by most computer owners in very little time.

PCI stands for peripheral component interface. It is a type of computer bus used to carry data around the motherboard. Many of the internal peripheral devices available for personal computers conform to the PCI adapter standard. The PCI local bus first appear in 1993 and quickly replaced the older and slower ISA bus. While the PCI bus has been recently superseded by the faster PCI Express, manufacturers will continue to support it for many years to come.

A typical PCI adapter is a small circuit board with a long slot that has many copper contacts on it. It plugs into one of the PCI expansion slots found on most personal computer motherboards. A metal bracket along one edge of the circuit board holds the plugs and secures the adapter to the case. The slot is tight enough to hold the adapter without it falling out, and the bracket is held onto the case by a single screw.

PCI expansion slots are easily to spot on a motherboard because of their size. The slots are usually white but can be any color really. Some manufacturers use exciting colors like red and yellow to make their motherboards more attractive. Several years ago, there would be as many as six PCI expansion slots on most motherboards, but this number has dropped to around two as many adapters have been integrated into the motherboard. One example of this transition is the sound processor, which was a common PCI adapter until motherboards started appearing with their own sound processors.

Many personal computers have at least one PCI adapter installed, and it is not unusual to find all the PCI expansion slots filled with them. Some video graphics adapters are made for PCI but most use the accelerated graphics port (APG), which looks similar but has a different color and size. Other devices that are commonly found in the PCI slots are television tuners, internal modems, sound processors, Ethernet and wireless networking adapters, and expansion adapters that add extra ports.

Installing a PCI adapter is a relatively simple task that can be done by most people with only a screwdriver. Turn off the computer and remove the screws holding the cover to the case. Depending on the case design, pull one of the side panels off or remove the entire cover. If there is a small cover over the slot where the adapter will fit, remove that too. Firmly press the PCI adapter into the slot and screw the bracket on to the case. Some adapters have sockets for a data or power cable, so check the manual to see if those need to be attached. Finally, put the covers back on and start the computer.

Depending on the computer’s operating system, the new PCI adapter may be detected and setup automatically or it may need to be setup manually. Windows has a feature called Plug and Play (PNP) that searches for new hardware and attempts to install a driver for it. A driver is a software program that allows the adapter to communicate with the operating system. Windows will normally search its large database of drivers before asking the user for a disc containing the driver. Once the driver has been installed, the computer may need to be restarted before the adapter starts working.

This PCI Adapter Review is Written/Updated on Oct 15th, 2009 and filed under Computer Hardware. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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