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Expansion Cards

What is an expansion card?

An expansion card is a circuit board that can be inserted into a computer and attached to the motherboard.


Two important expansion cards are the graphics card and the sound card.

Expansion cards are attached to the PCI slots on the motherboard. PCI stands for Peripheral Component Interconnect.


Graphics Card

Graphics Card.png





PCI Connector

What is a Graphics Card?

  1. A graphics card processes video calculations so that it can display images and videos on a monitor.

  2. Graphics cards are used by professional video gamers and animators. Any job that focuses on graphics must have a powerful graphics card.

  3. A computer without a graphics card relies on the CPU to do the graphical processing instead.


Sound Card

Sound Card.png

PCI Connector

Sound Chip


Line In


Line Out 1

Line Out 2

Line Out 3


What is a Sound Card?

  1. Most computers don’t need a dedicated sound card, only musicians and producers who require high-quality sound.

  2. When you use a microphone, a sound card converts analogue waves (a voice) into digital data (binary).

  3. When you use headphones or speakers, a sound card converts digital data (binary) into analogue waves (sounds).


What is the difference between an integrated and dedicated card?


An integrated card is directly wired into the motherboard. 


They are cheaper and generate less power because they use the RAM of the computer.


Integrated GPUs are used for laptops as they generate less heat and are used for general computing uses (e.g. web browsing or watching movies).


dedicated card is separate from the motherboard and has to be attached through a PCI slot.


They are more expensive and generate more heat, often requiring a fan, because it contains its own processor and memory.

Dedicated cards are used by professionals who need higher quality features like better sound or graphics.

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