Computers use Network Interface cards to be able to connect to the internet, either through a cable or without it. You will need a Wi-Fi LAN card installed in your system for it to be able to communicate with wireless networks around.
Generally, laptops and mobile phones come with a built-in Wi-Fi card. Even some application-specific chips, such as Microcontrollers and System-on-a-Chip, constitute a Wi-Fi module. However, you may have to install an internal or external Wi-Fi card in the desktop computer to connect to wireless internet.
Not only this, you may want to use a Wi-Fi card to improve the signal and coverage of your current network card or laptop. So, in this guide, we are explaining every step to follow while installing an internal or external Wi-Fi card on your desktop as well as a laptop computer.
How to Install Wi-Fi Card on Desktop?
Here are the steps you need to follow to install the Wireless Network Card on a Desktop computer.
Remove the PC Cover
As the slot to insert the card lie inside the PC casing, you will have to get to it first by removing the casing’s side cover.
- Turn your PC off and take out all the cables and external hardware from it.
- Press the power button for around 10 seconds to drain all the residual power. It is important so as to not damage any components accidentally.
- Bring the casing out in the open.
- Obtain the right screwdriver and remove all the bolts holding the side panel. Some cases may have a simple screw that you can remove easily with your hands as well.
- Slide or take the panel out.
- Clean the PC thoroughly if you have not removed the dust routinely before.
Find the Slot to Insert the Card
Almost all the Wi-Fi or Network cards use PCI-e slot inside the PC. And you can find a number of PCI-e slots. So, you will need the find the right slot to insert the card and prepare it for installation.
- Look for the PCI-e slots in the motherboard. Generally, you will find 3 to 4 similar slots with varying lengths in the same place.
- If you already have a LAN card or a graphics card, you can find the slots right next to them.
- Find the one with the shortest length. The Wi-Fi card and other Add-in-Cards use a PCI-e x1 slot or the shortest one.
- Sometimes, the graphics card or other network card can hover above the Wi-Fi card’s slot. So, you will have to use the next shortest one. However, even though it is designed for PCI-e x1 slots, you can still use it in any other PCI-e lanes.
- Clean the slot again thoroughly.
- Remove the metal bracket behind the Wi-Fi card’s slot found at the back of the casing by pushing it inside.
Install the Wi-Fi Card
Now, it’s time to install the Wireless Network card into the slot.
- Take the card out of the box.
- Hold it such that the metal portion faces the back of the PC, and the pins face towards the slot.
- Press it down to the header gently until all the pins are inside the slot.
- Align the metal bracket of the card to the screw hole on the casing. You can do it from outside of the casing.
- Tighten the screw to secure the card to the case.
- If you have used a Wi-Fi card that has the Bluetooth module as well, then take one end of the USB connector to the port on the card.
- Find the USB 2.0 header on the motherboard and insert another end of the USB to that header.
- Take out the antenna from the box and screw them into the holes located at the back of the Wi-Fi card. You just have to insert it into the hole and rotate it to fasten the antennae.
- Bend the antennae to the best orientation that is suitable for you.
Install the Driver
The Wi-Fi card will not work until you install its driver on your PC. So, here are the ways to do it.
- Slide the side case back into its place and tighten its screws.
- Take the casing to the original location where you had placed your PC set up earlier.
- Insert all the cables into their respective ports.
- Power on the PC.
- Open Device Manager by pressing Windows + ‘R’ and typing
devmgmt.mscon the Run dialog box.
- Look if the new device shows there with a yellow mark and the name “Unknown device”.
- If the Wi-Fi card came with a CD, then it has the driver in it. Insert the CD into the CD/DVD Drive.
- Some of you may not have a CD/DVD drive. In such cases, you will have to download the driver from the Wi-Fi card manufacturer’s website. Or, you can get to a PC with a CD drive, copy the files from it to a USB flash drive and use it on your computer.
- Run the setup file for the driver and follow the instructions to detect and install the Wi-Fi card driver.
If the Wi-Fi card does not show up, there may be issues with the installation. You can repeat the process and re-insert the card into the slot. To save the hassle, you can run the computer before assembling the back cover and see if the card is detected.
How to Re-install Wi-Fi Card in Laptop?
A laptop has an in-built Wi-Fi card inside it. However, if it gets damaged, you will want to replace it with a new one.
But some laptops have Wi-Fi cards directly soldered to the motherboard. If that is your case, then you are out of luck here. Nevertheless, if your Wi-Fi module is replaceable, here are the ways to do it.
Disassemble the Laptop’s Cover
Let’s remove the laptop’s cover to get to the motherboard and the space where the Wi-Fi card needs to be placed.
- Power off your laptop and remove the charger.
- Take out the battery.
- Remove all the residual power stored in the laptop by pressing the power button for around 10 seconds.
- Turn your laptop over and start removing the screws.
- Look beneath the rubber pads and stickers to find additional screws and remove them too.
- Use a hard but thin plastic card or flat screw head to remove the cover from its attachments.
- Take the back cover out.
- Some of the laptops may have a Wi-Fi card within a small compartment similar to RAM and a Hard drive. You can simply remove those covers in such laptops and get to the card.
- Clean the inside of the laptop carefully.
Remove the Old Wi-Fi Card and Insert the New One
If you have an old Wi-Fi card installed, you will have to remove it first. Let’s go through the steps to remove the old one and install the new Wi-Fi card on your laptop.
- Find the Wi-Fi card in the motherboard. It is a small RAM or SSD-like component that has two wires connected to it.
- Remember the points where the specific wire is attached. Usually, the wires are color-coded, and you will find the label on the card showing where to insert them.
- Pull off both the antennae wires carefully by using a tweezer. The wires are simply attached and should come off easily, even with your hands.
- Unscrew the pin holding the card in your motherboard.
- Now pull the Wi-Fi card out of its slot. You can also take the card out first and remove the antennae wires.
- Hold the new card and insert it into that slot in the correct orientation. If you have not already bought a Wi-Fi card, look at the specs and size of your older one and obtain the right card accordingly.
- Screw it back into the holes and tighten it.
- Re-attach the wires to their respective points that you remembered earlier.
- Put the cover back on the laptop and tighten all the screws.
After you have installed the Wi-Fi module, you will have to install the driver on your laptop through the CD or by downloading manually from their website.
How to Install a USB Wi-Fi Card?
Using a USB Wi-Fi card is much simpler. You can simply connect the USB network card to the USB port on your laptop or desktop. And install its driver from the given CD. In some network cards, the driver even gets installed automatically once you insert it into your PC.
However, the range of a USB Wi-Fi card is usually weaker than the internal network card. If your USB adapter has antennae, you can set it up in an open area using a USB hub to get a better range.