How to Replace a WiFi PCI Antenna

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How to Replace a WiFi PCI Antenna
A Wi-Fi PCI card lets you connect to a wireless Internet source. (video card image by Florin Capilnean from Fotolia.com)

A wireless PCI card has an antenna that is capable of sending and receiving a wireless signal to and from your computer. The antenna lets you connect to a wireless network or surf the web without a network cable. If the antenna is damaged or broken, the only option is to replace the entire PCI card. Swapping a Wi-Fi PCI card is a process that requires opening up your computer's case and removing internal components.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Wireless PCI card

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Open the "Start" menu and type "Device Manager" in the "Search" field. Click the device manager icon. In Windows XP you first need to click the "Search" icon.

  2. 2

    Expand the "Network Adapters" heading by clicking the plus icon next to the heading. Right-click the entry for your computer's current Wi-Fi PCI card and choose "Uninstall." Choose "Next" and click "Finish."

  3. 3

    Close the window and turn off the computer. Unplug your computer's power adaptor and disconnect all of the cables for the other devices connected to the computer's ports.

  4. 4

    Move the computer on its side so the access panel is facing you. Remove the access panel screws at the back end of the case with a Phillips screwdriver. Your computer may instead have a plastic release button or a thumbscrew. In that case, twist off the thumbscrew or push in the release button.

  5. 5

    Grip the back end of the access panel and pull it off the computer's case. Locate the existing wireless PCI card, which is positioned in the series of PCI card slots at the lower-left end of the computer's motherboard.

  6. 6

    Unscrew the PCI card's antenna, which is positioned on the outside of the back end of the case. Remove the Phillips screw holding the card to the computer's case.

  7. 7

    Grab the top end of the wireless PCI card and pull the card upward to remove it from the PCI slot. Discard the old PCI card and the removed antenna.

  8. 8

    Place the new wireless PCI card over the PCI card slot. Align the card's notches with the holes on the PCI slot and push the card down gently until it locks into position. Replace the Phillips screw to hold the card to the case.

  9. 9

    Place the new antenna that came with the new card onto the visible antenna port on the outside edge of the back of the computer's case. Ensure the antenna is pointed upward at a 90-degree angle and screw the antenna onto the port.

  10. 10

    Set the side access panel back onto the computer and replace the Phillips screws or twist the thumbscrew until it locks. Connect all of your computer's various cables and turn on the computer.

  11. 11

    Follow the "Found New Hardware" prompts on the screen if your PCI card did not come with an installation disc. Close the prompt without clicking anything if the card did include a disc. Insert the disc in the computer's disc drive and follow the installation instructions.

Tips and warnings

  • Online computer-parts stores and office-supply chains sell wireless PCI cards for your computer.
  • Any static electricity contained in your hands may accidentally discharge and ruin your new wireless PCI card or other components in your computer. Before removing the side access panel, ground yourself by touching the metal ports on the back end of the computer case.

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