Where Do You Insert
An "Add On" Card?

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Why Slots Have Locks

Slots or expansion sockets have a locks do you always use them?

When you insert a card in an expansion socket, a memory module in to a memory socket, or a processor in to a socket the last step is to lock the part in place.

We understand why it is desirable to lock things in their position on a laptop, after all we carry them around all the time but a desktop?

Yes, there is a reason for locking electronic components in their position in any computer.

It has to do with thermal expansion and contraction of the materials.

When material is heated it expands, when it cools it contracts, simple physics, no?

Add to the this formula the electrical contacts of a socket, they are copper, when the copper is forged it is done in such a way that it has a tinsel strength added to the metal so that it has some spring tension, that is it will return to its original position.

When the contact is cold it contracts, then when it heats up from electron flow and air flow around the slots they expand.

This expansion and contraction has an loosening effect on the card or memory module, actually it is closer to a "walking" effect where the part will work its way out of the retaining socket.

Back in the early days of the IBM PC some techs/owners wouldn't put the screw in the metal socket cover of an add on card, even though a computer hadn't been moved the cards would eventually come so far out of the socket that they would fail.

Add on cards or memory modules that have a lot of thermal expansion and contraction require more locks or retainers than those that don't heat up as much.

That is why a memory module has retainer clips on both ends, high end video cards have a lock on the inside edge and a screw for the socket cover.

Keeping the part from moving in the socket increases the spring tension on the socket contacts thus increasing the electron flow for the device.

A while back a question on Slots  in the [old] Q and A forum was what to do about a broken memory module socket retainer.

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If only the retainer clip is broken or missing you can replace it either from a spare socket on the motherboard or find one on a dead part. Using a small amount of force pry the retaining socket "ears" apart and twist the clip slightly to pop it out of the old socket. Then put one of the pivot pins in one hole of the socket retaining "ears" then press down until the other pivot pins pops in to place.

You just saved yourself some money and a lot of time by a minor fix that would have resulted in a replacement of the motherboard.

When you remove, replace, or add a new component or device to your computer use all the screws or retainers that the device comes with or are provided where the part is being installed, if not you may be replacing it again soon and maybe more parts if it shorts out.



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