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A+ Essentials Tutorial


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1.0 Personal Computer Components


  • Identify the names, purposes and characteristics of adapter cards

    • Video including PCI / PCIe and AGP

    • Multimedia

    •  I / O (SCSI, serial, USB, Parallel)

    • Communications including network and modem

Video Adaptor Card:

A Video Adaptor card  is an internal circuit board that provides signals to external display device for displaying images and text in an orderly manner. A video card is also known as video controller card or a video board. Sometimes, video card may be an integral part of a motherboard, and connect directly to the video monitor using appropriate cable. Usually, for high-end applications, a video adapter card interface is available on most of the motherboards. The adapter card may use any of several available interfaces including PCI, AGP (Advanced Graphic Port), PCIe, or others. :

PCI: The PCI slot was developed prior to AGP, and inferior in performance compared to AGP. A PCI adapter card is usually cheaper than its AGP counterpart. 

AGP: The AGP slot was developed later, and offers as much as 8X improvement over PCI in terms of performance. There are several different versions of the AGP slot. Most AGP video cards are designed to work only with the newer AGP 2.0 and 3.0 versions.AGP version 1.0 is obsolete.


PCI Express (x16): The PCI Express is more recent standard, and uses different slot type. PCIe (x16) offers performance much faster than the AGP 8X slot.  Recently, PCs are coming with at least one PCI Express slot type. Although the names are similar, PCI Express is separate and different from PCI. They are physically different shapes and use different standards of data transfer. A PCI Express video card will not fit into a PCI slot and vice-versa.

Video cards provide additional functions beside the ability to render 3D graphics for gaming. The video card interface to monitor may include:

  • DVI: DVI is a higher-definition output used with some newer monitors as well as some high-end TVs. If you are using an older monitor, you can convert the DVI signal to VGA using a DVI-to-VGA adaptor.

  • S-Video and/or TV-Out: Most video cards provide the ability to send the video signal from your PC to your TV. This feature is labeled as "TV-Out" on the video card package. In most cases, the TV-out jack is an "S-video" type jack designed to send a high-quality s-video signal to TV's.

  • Dual Monitor Support: Dual monitor support refers to splitting your video signal to go across two monitors instead of one. This is very useful for designers, engineers, and others who need to view large files on their desktop and still have other windows open. 

 I / O (SCSI, serial, USB, Parallel) interface cards:

Adapter cards are available for SCSI, Serial, USB, and Parallel interfaces. These interfaces are discussed in detail in the subsequent sections.

Communications Adapter cards including network and modem:

a. Network Interface Card (NIC):

A network interface card (also known as network card or network adapter) is an interface card that allows communication with other computers and resources on the network. Most widely protocols include Ethernet, and Token Ring. These days, network interface is provided as an integral part of motherboard. You can also insert a Network card using any adapter slot on a computer. A network card using PCI interface slot is shown below:

Most home and portable computers connect to the Internet through dial-up connection. The modem provides the connection interface to the Internet service provider.

An modem card will have two RJ-11 connectors, one for the phone line input, and the other for the phone line output. The PCI interface plugs into a PCI slot on the motherboard.

  • Identify the names, purposes and characteristics of ports and cables for example: USB 1.1 and 2.0, parallel, serial, IEEE 1394 / firewire, RJ45 and RJ11, PS2 / Mini-DIN, centronics (e.g. mini, 36) multimedia (e.g. 1 / 8 connector, MIDI Coaxial, SPDIF)

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