Computer guts question for tech savvy readers

I have a question for knowledgeable readers.

I pulled open a computer and found this graphic/video “card”


Can someone bring me up to speed on something?

Can I pull a video card out of another computer, a card with dual heads, and plug it in to the longer slot??  With there be a conflict?


I am also thinking about pulling the memory from the other computer and plugging it in here.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Ossus says:

    Fr Z,

    There will be no conflict plugging in a card and using it. Just use both the heads on the card.

    As for the ram, as long as it is the same iteration of ram (DDR2 or DDR3), it will work in your rig.

    Shoot me an email if you need more help, I do this for a living.

  2. Ossus says:

    Also, not sure from the picture whether it is an AGP slot or PCI-E slot. If they are the same slot between the two rigs, you can move the card over.

  3. jrleblanc says:

    You should be able to plugin a new card and the onboard card will automatically be disabled. If it isn’t you can disable the video card in your computer’s BIOS.

  4. Luke says:

    The memory wouldn’t be a good idea.

  5. muchtall says:

    That’s a PCI-E slot in the picture. You’ll need to make sure that the keying of the card is the same. AGP has a key on the other end of the slot, so you’ll know because it won’t line up or fit in the slot.

    Similarly, RAM has physical keying that makes sure that the chips are a least somewhat compatible. However, there are different speed ratings on chips, so even if it fits, it may still not work. Check the speed listed on the chip. They probably are designated with something like “DDR PC5300” or similar. Make sure that the chips you are putting in match the DDR level, and that the speed matches or exceeds the chips you have currently installed.

    Pictures of the card you plan to install, as well as pictures of the RAM installed and RAM you intend to install would probably help.

  6. cregduff says:

    If you send me the model numbers of the computers I can tell you. Also, how much ram is in it now and what are you shooting for? I may be able to overnight it to you if I have it, which I will be happy to do. Ed

  7. papaefidelis says:

    From the photo, you’ve got a PCI-E 16x video card slot. So long as your video card is a newer (post-2005) PCI-e video card (as opposed to the older AGP), it will work. Be sure to download the latest drivers from the card maker’s website ( Nvidia and AMD [formerly ATI] are the only major graphics card manufacturers). As for the memory, it depends on what the motherboard will support. If it’s a newer computer (as it seems), it will use DDR2 (older) or DDR3 (newer) ram modules. They come in various speeds (DDR2: 667 Mhz, 800 Mhz, 1066 Mhz, etc.) and the variety which the system can support depends on the type of motherboard.

  8. jkarpilo says:

    Hi Fr. Z,

    The longer slot looks to be a PCI-E x16 slot; as long as your video card is PCI-E, it should work (PCI-E 1.1 and 2.0 revisions are fully backwards compatible with 1.0). You may also need to disable the onboard video (pic 1) in BIOS.

    With regard to the RAM, As Ossus said, you have to use the same data rate type (DDRx) but you can generally mix and match within the same category (e.g. Use 2 x DDR2-5300 & 2 x DDR2-6400), they will just all operate at the lowest common speed. There’s a slight chance that you may run into some compatibility issues with this but they should be the exception.

  9. Ted Krasnicki says:

    Ossus is quite right. But you may also have to change settings in the BIOS to allow your new card to do all the video work.
    I also noticed your power supply plug does not match the number of pins on the motherboard power socket. That is not recommended. Perhaps a 4 pin extension has detached from from the main plug from the power supply, so look for that part. Otherwise, you should get the right power supply, and they are fairly inexpensive these days.

  10. Jerry says:

    Also keep in mind that if this is a 32-bit Windows system, adding memory beyond 3 GB is pointless.

  11. doodler says:

    Why not stick to pencil and paper?

  12. s i says:

    FYI: for the memory info, you could go to and run the memory scanner. It will tell you exactly what kind of RAM your system takes, and what the max capacity is for each slot.

  13. wmeyer says:

    Fr. Z, as to Luke’s comment, memory modules should always be of the same specification, and preferably from the same manufacturer. Dynamic memory generates impressive current spikes; when the characteristics of all the modules are matched, the spikes tend to match in time, and therefore do not cause issues. When mismatched, spikes caused by one module can give trouble to an adjacent module with different characteristics.

    Never mix, never worry! ;)

  14. thymos says:

    Just make sure to disable the tractor beam first.

  15. Bryan Boyle says:

    I’m seeing you’re close on “Get a Mac” to being able to obtain a nice 21″ iMac….If a couple people will kick in some more folding green…I’ll match up to a c note to get you over the hump and onto a really really nice computer platform…:)

  16. Bryan Boyle says:

    That is, I’ll kick in a max of a c note total…sheesh…

  17. Bryan: A nice offer.  Thanks!

    There is slow progress in the “Get A Mac!” fund, and I have set a high bar.

  18. Bryan Boyle says:

    Yeah…for that you could get into a high-end Mac server farm…I’m thinking, a little more modestly, of an iMac 21…:)

  19. MJ says:

    A funny tidbit…I used to be manager to a team of support technicians, and I had directed one of them to go swap out a stick of memory that had gone bad in a user’s PC. I handed him the new stick, gave him the location of the PC, and the tech took the memory, paused, then asked, “Is this stuff hot pocketable?”

    I just about lost it. :)

  20. moon1234 says:

    Also keep in mind that if this is a 32-bit Windows system, adding memory beyond 3 GB is pointless.

    This is NOT true. Memory re-mapping in newer chipsets allows almost all of the 4GB of memory under a 32bit OS to be utilized.

    The video card should be no problem if it is PCI Express. The slot Fr. showed is PCI Express x16 as has been stated already. Any PCI Express card will fit in that slot even if it is shorter.

    Memory is trickier. It is not only the the type of memory, but the speed and voltage requirement as well. The easiest way to determine if it will work is to look up the specs on the old computer (memory) and the new computer (memory).

    Generally, if more than a few years have passed the memory technology will not be compatible. If it is, the speed of the memory in the older computer will usually be slower than what is in the newer computer. If the older memory is inserted then ALL of the memory will run at the speed of the slowest memory chip.

    Memory is so cheap now anyway that it usually does not make sense to re-use old memory.

  21. EWTN Rocks says:

    Fr. Z,

    I know you’ll love your iMac when you get it. I bought mine about two years ago so it’s not the latest and greatest (only 4 GB of memory), but I love mine! And compared to a PC, it’s quite fast. My Aunt Sally has been trying to buy one too and has cryptically established her purchase date to surprise us: 00:25:00:d5:25:14 . Not sure if she has the right info though to buy the model that best meets her computing needs.

  22. EWTN Rocks says:


    I seem to be having the same computer issues as Fr. Z but don’t know the difference between RAM and ROM. Fortunately, I’m borrowing my brother’s computer to post on Fr. Z’s blog since he isn’t home.

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