How to Install a New PCI Video Card in a Dell Inspiron Desktop

by John Machay
Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

Boasting second generation Intel Core processors, dual channel DDR3 SDRAM, 1-2TB SATA hard drives and Intel high-definition integrated graphics, Dell’s latest Inspiron computers pack a powerful punch for a competitive price. But for hardcore gamers, animators, graphic artists and people who watch a lot of videos on their computers, the Inspiron’s onboard graphics may fall short. The most difficult part of obtaining sharp, fluid graphics is deciding which video card to purchase; installing it is a relatively simple task that even a novice can do.

Step 1

Turn off your Dell Inspiron, unplug the power cord and disconnect all peripheral devices, such as the monitor, printer, keyboard and mouse. Gently lay the computer on its side so the metal lip on the back of the case is on top.

Step 2

Remove the two screws on either side of the metal lip with a Phillips screwdriver. Standing behind the computer, grab the metal lip and pull it toward you to disengage the inner locking tabs. Lift the side of the case up and away from the computer to remove it.

Step 3

Put on an anti-static wrist strap or touch the metal frame of your computer to discharge any static you might be harboring.

Step 4

Select the PCI slot in which you wish to install your new video card. Because some Inspirons offer more than one size, make sure the one you select fits your video card.

Step 5

Remove the screw that secures the card retention bracket, which you’ll find partially covering the filler brackets on the back of the computer. Lift off the card retention bracket and set it aside.

Step 6

Push out the filler bracket that corresponds with the expansion slot you selected. The filler bracket is located on the back of the computer, behind the slot; it covers the opening that will allow you to plug your monitor cord into the video card.

Step 7

Remove your video card from its static-free packaging. Holding it by its edges, line up the side with the metal connections with the expansion slot and gently push it in.

Step 8

Secure the video card by replacing the card retention bracket, making sure the bracket’s guide clamp is aligned with the card’s guide notch. Replace its screw and tighten with a Phillips screwdriver.

Step 9

Reattach the side of the computer case, replace its two screws and tighten with a Phillips screwdriver.

Step 10

Plug in your peripheral devices and the power cord. Don’t forget to plug the monitor cable into the back of your new video card.

Turn on the computer. As Windows boots up, it will detect your new video card and guide you through the installation process. Unless the documentation that came with the video card tells you to do otherwise, follow the onscreen instructions to install the drivers.


  • Don’t underestimate the destructive power of static electricity. If you don’t own an anti-static wrist strap, it’s important to discharge by touching the computer’s metal frame before putting your hands anywhere near the motherboard, hard drive or your new video card. If you walk away from your computer before you’re finished, be sure to discharge again before getting back to work. And leave the video card in its anti-static packaging until just before you install it.
  • If you have a difficult time inserting the video card into the expansion slot, don’t try forcing it into place; make sure it’s lined up properly and the slot is the right size.


  • There are many video cards on the market, ranging in price from reasonable to more than you probably paid for your Inspiron. When shopping for one, compare online reviews and discuss your needs with professionals. You might find a moderately priced card will serve your needs just as well as an expensive one would.


Photo Credits

  • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

About the Author

John Machay began writing professionally in 1984. Since then, his work has surfaced in the "West Valley View," "The Sean Hannity Show," "Scam Dunk" and in his own book, "Knuckleheads In the News." His efforts have earned him the Ottoway News Award and Billboard magazine honors for five straight years. Machay studied creative writing at Columbia College in Chicago.

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