Install or Remove a Sound Card

Install or remove a sound card

Most new desktop computers come with a built-in sound card that you can replace. If your computer doesn’t have a sound card installed or you want to upgrade the sound playback or recording capabilities of your computer, you can install a sound card.

The instructions here apply to desktop computers. Most laptops have built-in sound processing chips (also called sound processors) but not internal sound cards. You can upgrade the sound on a laptop by plugging an external sound device into a USB port or external card slot, but this is rarely done.

Sound processors can also be built into desktop computers. You can’t remove them, but to upgrade your sound, you can usually install an internal sound card and turn off the sound processor.

Before installing a sound card, check the information that came with it. The guidelines shown here are general, and the sound card documentation might contain important information specific to installing that card. Also, be sure to check the information that came with your computer to see if opening your computer affects the computer’s warranty coverage.

Before installing a sound card, you’ll need the following:

The sound card you want to install

A Phillips screwdriver to open your computer, if needed

An empty PCI slot inside your computer, unless you plan to replace an existing sound card (in which case you can put the new card into that slot)

If your sound card came with a CD, DVD, or other removable media, it might contain a driver for your sound card. Hold on to that until Windows has finished looking for and installing a driver. Windows does this automatically after you install the sound card in your computer and turn the computer back on.

If Windows can’t find a good driver for your sound card, then try installing the driver that came with the sound card. Software from the manufacturer might also include other programs for your sound card.