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Laptop add-on cards are expansion cards that you can add to the card slot of a laptop to extend the functionality and features of the device. There are cards available for a host of purposes, including sound cards to enhance audio, and graphics cards to improve the visual capabilities of your machine. Wireless cards offer connection to Wi-fi networks and wireless routers, while a parallel port expansion card provides a connection for printers and other hardware. When buying computer add-on cards, you will need to ensure that the card is compatible with your device. PCMCIA and ExpressCard are two of the most widely used standards.
USB 3.0 has a data transfer speed ten times faster than that of USB 2.0. These cards don't just improve data transfer speeds. The latest standards consume less power, manage bandwidth more effectively and offer higher access speeds. Install a new USB 3.0 laptop add-on card to access and write data faster, and improve data transfer speeds between your laptop and any USB compatible device.
There are newer laptop models that opt for additional USB sockets rather than the parallel ports. If you have a printer that relies on a parallel connection, then a parallel adapter card enables you to connect this and other parallel devices to your system.
Network Interface Controller cards (NIC) offer a wired connection to a wireless router or modem. You can also buy wireless laptop add-on cards that enable connection to wireless routers and modems. Current models utilize the 802.11n standard, which offers a transfer speed of up to 300Mbps. 802.11ac increases this even further, with speeds reaching a maximum of several gigabits per second. As long as you have the card slot available, your laptop can accept the new standards, so you can stream, download and upload data quicker than with your existing wireless connection.
There are laptops with integrated graphics and audio cards that save space, and prevent laptops from running too hot. However, if you are a regular music listener, or want a more immersive gaming experience, an audio/sound card enables a surround sound and 3D sound experience. They include ports to add a woofer and additional speakers. Your choice of card will determine how many speakers you can attach to the device. More ports equate to more speakers, which usually converts to richer sound experience.
Modern laptops utilize a USB or include either ExpressCard or PCI slots. You can also buy ExpressCard to PCMCIA adapters that enable you to use PCMCIA cards in an ExpressCard slot. Full-height computer add-on cards are a standard size. Half-height cards are also available, however, so take care to choose the right form. Adapters can convert half-height add-on cards to full-height, and vice versa.