Without a wireless network card installed, your Dell computer will have to use an Ethernet networking cable to connect to either a high-speed modem or a router. A wireless card instead lets your Dell connect to an Internet source or local network without running cables at all. Before installing a wireless card in the Dell's PCI card slot, you will need to set up the computer by removing its existing network driver software and taking out the old network card.
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Things you need
- Phillips screwdriver
Open your Dell computer's "Start" menu. Select "Control Panel" and click "System and Maintenance." Choose the "Device Manager" option.
Scroll down to the "Network Adapters" heading. Click the plus icon next to the heading and right-click the entry for your Dell's current network card.
Choose "Uninstall" and click "Next." Shut off your Dell computer after the uninstall process has finished removing the existing network card's software.
Disconnect all of the cables and devices attached to your Dell desktop computer. Lay the computer case on a sturdy work area with the left-hand access panel facing up.
Push the two panel release buttons positioned on the top and bottom of the case, if your Dell uses release buttons. You may instead need to twist off a thumbscrew or remove two Phillips screws with some models.
Pull the panel up and to the right if it used release buttons. Pull the panel all the way to its locked 90-degree position so the motherboard is visible. Instead, pull the panel to the left and completely remove it if your Dell uses a thumbscrew or Phillips screws.
Find the existing network card in the PCI slot at the lower-left corner of the Dell's motherboard. The card is a thin and flat device connected to a rectangular port.
Unscrew the locking screw on the metal tab at the far left end of the existing network card. Grab both the metal tab and the far right end of the card and pull the network card off the PCI port.
Place the new wireless PCI card over the port and ensure the bottom edge lines up with the PCI port. Push the card into the port and replace the locking screw. Replace the Dell's side panel.
Attach each of the cables and devices removed earlier. Turn on the computer and insert the disc that came with the wireless PCI card into your computer's disc drive. Follow the onscreen wireless installation instructions.
Tips and warnings
- In Windows 7, connect to a wireless network by right-clicking the network icon at the right end of the Start bar and clicking the name of the network. In Windows Vista, click "Start," choose "Connect To" and select the name of the wireless network.
- Wireless PCI network cards are usually found at office supply stores or online through computer parts retailers.
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