How Can I Tell If My Computer Takes PCI or a PCI Express Video Card?


Most modern desktop computers use either PCI or PCI-Express slots for connecting video cards and other internal cards and devices, such as sound cards, memory card readers and USB expansion cards. PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) is outdated technology compared to the newer, faster PCI-Express interface, but it is still very commonly used by card manufacturers and still supported by most motherboards. Determining whether your computer has a PCI or PCI-Express interface is an essential step in selecting a compatible video card.

  • Open your computer case (consult your case documentation if necessary) and survey your computer's motherboard (or mainboard). On the side of the board nearest the rear of the computer (this is where the PCI/PCI-Express slots will be), take note of the sizes and shapes of the free slots visible to you.

  • Determine whether you have PCI or PCI-Express slots (or both). A PCI connection will have one long slot followed by one shorter slot (white slots in photo). There are several different versions of the PCI-Express interface. PCI-Express will have either a (shorter) long slot followed by a short slot, or a short slot followed by a longer slot (top black slot in photo).

  • Purchase (if necessary) and install the proper video card for your computer. Consult the documentation provided with the card for specific instructions on installing the card into your PCI or PCI-Express slot.

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  • Photo Credit video card image by Florin Capilnean from motherboard image by dinostock from motherboard image by Falk from graphic card image by from
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