How to Install a Sound Card on a Computer

By Techwalla Computers Editor

These instructions will work for the majority of Intel & AMD PCs running Windows XP/Vista. If your computer currently has a sound chip (called "on board sound") or if your sound card requires a change in jumpers or IRQs, installation will be much more complicated and you might want to consult a professional.

Things You'll Need

  • Sound Cards

Step 1

Shut down the computer.

Step 2

Unplug machine from the surge protector.

Step 3

Disconnect all peripherals from the computer.

Step 4

Remove the cover of the chassis and lay computer on its side if it is a tower.

Step 5

Ground yourself to the computer. If you have a grounding strap, put it on and follow its directions. Otherwise, ground yourself by touching a metal part of the chassis.

Step 6

Remove the back panel, if necessary.

Step 7

Locate the existing sound card if there is one already installed. If it is screwed in on the side of the slot hole, unscrew it and pull the card out firmly.

Step 8

If the computer doesn't already have a sound card, find an open slot.

Step 9

Knock out or unscrew the metal plate on the card's slot holder on the back panel.

Step 10

Insert the sound card gently but firmly into the slot. Rock it into position if necessary, but don't force it. Don't touch any connectors on the card.

Step 11

Connect cables from the CD-ROM drive to the sound card.

Step 12

Replace the back panel and any removed screws. Screw sound card into slot holder if it has a screw hole.

Step 13

Reconnect monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Connect speakers to the sound card's ports.

Step 14

Turn on the speakers and restart the computer.

Step 15

If Windows detects the sound card upon startup, follow instructions to install the card's driver and additional software. If Windows doesn't detect sound card, manually complete the installation using the Add New Hardware control panel.

Step 16

Play music CD to test sound card.

Step 17

Shut down computer.

Step 18

Replace cover of computer. Reboot computer.

Tips & Warnings

  • If possible, do installation in an uncarpeted area to avoid static. A kitchen table is a good place to work on a computer.
  • If possible, use the slot with the most open space around it.
  • Installing software that comes with your sound card will change settings in the Windows Registry.
  • Be careful not to touch any connectors (chips). Touch as little as possible on the sound card or inside your machine.
  • If your computer is under a manufacturer's warranty, modifying the product usually ends that warranty.
  • If you do not understand these instructions or you lack good manual dexterity, have a qualified technician install the sound card for you.