Wireless networking is a must in the 21st century, but yet not all computers come pre-installed with a wireless networking card. Or it could be the issue of your current wireless networking card becoming out of date with the widespread adoption of the 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard that can offer up to 1733Mbps using the 5Ghz frequency band. Either way, we’re going to show you how to install a wireless networking card on your PC - it’s a straight forward process and shouldn’t take any more than 10-15 minutes.

If you need help with anything else, make sure you check out our How to section.

How to install a wireless networking card

It’s worth noting that the setup process may vary slightly depending on the Wi-Fi networking card you use, so if you want to know which Wi-Fi networking card we’re using in this how to, we’re using the Inateck 2-in-1 3-port USB 3.0 PCI-E card with Dual-Band Wi-Fi 802.11 ac/a/b/g/n connectivity. You’ll get three high-speed USB 3.0 ports as well as a Wi-Fi networking adaptor. Everybody wins, right?

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Step 1) Turn off your computer. This may seem like a no-brainer to some people, but you could seriously damage your computers internals (and yourself!) if you try to install components with an active power supply. 

Step 2) Open the case. Now it’s worth noting that the way that you open the case is a little different for each computer, although most cases will have a removable panel on the side. In our case, we had to remove two screws from the back of the case and then the side panel slid off. If you can’t see any screws, check for a lever that could be used to release the side of the case. If there are any doubts about how to remove the case, don’t force it - just check your computers manual for exact instructions. 

Step 3) Identify an empty slot. The PCI-E slots should look similar to the ones shown in the above photo, and should align with removable metal plates on the rear of the PC. 

Step 4) Remove the metal plate. Before we can add the wireless networking card, we have to make space for it. Many computers come with removable plates, and these should be easy to remove by unscrewing the screw that holds it in place. There are usually one or two screws that hold it in place, or in some cases there are plastic clips that need to be pulled back. Again, if you’re unsure, just check your computer manual. 

Step 5) Align the wireless networking card with the PCI-E slot. To install the wireless networking card, hold it by its face plate, making sure that the chips are facing the bottom of the case.

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Step 6) Push the card straight into the PCI-E slot. Once you’ve aligned the wireless networking card with the slot, simply push the card straight into the slot until its seated and the face plate is up against the hole at the back of the PC. 

Step 7) Secure the card to the case with a screw. Using the screw that was unscrewed earlier when removing the metal plate, screw the wireless networking card into place in the case. 

Step 8) Remove yellow caps and attach antennas. Simply pull off the yellow caps on the back of the wireless networking card and screw on the two supplied antennas. 

Step 9) Close up the computer case and turn the computer on. Once you’ve installed the card, close up the computer case and turn your PC on. If you’re running Windows 8 or later, the drivers for the both the wireless adapter and USB ports will be installed automatically. If you’re running Windows XP/Vista/7, you may have to manually install the drivers yourself using the supplied CD. Once the drivers are installed, you’ll be able to connect to a Wi-Fi network and ditch the ethernet cable!

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