There are various ways to check the PCI Express slot version on the motherboard. The easiest way is to use a free-to-use third-party computer profiling software. You can also use other methods like referring to the specsheet if you know your motherboards model, or manually checking for inscriptions or labels on your board.
Knowing how to check PCI Express slot version is important. This information can come in handy particularly if you are planning on investing in a newer PCIe component or if you are planning on buying a new motherboard and want to make sure that it adheres to the latest PCIe protocol.
As is the case with all PCIe versions, each newer version DOUBLEs the per Lane throughput rate. As such, a PCIe 4.0 device, for instance, can work twice as fast as its PCIe 3.0 counterpart.
Newer devices benefit from newer PCIe version. For instance, a gen 4 NVMe SSD like the Samsung 980 Pro requires a PCIe v4.0 slot in order to work at its max throughput rate of 7000 MB/s. A gen 3 NVMe SSD, such as the Samung 970 Pro, works at half its speed!
Additionally, if you have an Gen 4 SSD and if you plug it into a PCIe 3.0 slot, it would too work at half its speed!
Therefore, in this case, it becomes crucial to know the PCIe version of you are motherboard. Investing in an expensive PCIe v4.0 device only to find out that you actually have a PCIe v3.0 would be a waste.
Fortunately there are many methods you can employ to check the PCIe version of your system.
Note on PCIe Versions and Lane Speeds
One very important reason to check the PCIe version is to know the transfer rate supported by PCIe lanes. This becomes important when installing high speed devices like a graphics card or an SSD.
The table above shows how drastically the speed differs from generation to generation. Essentially, as mentioned earlier, every newer generation doubles the per lane speed compared to its predecessor.
Another very important point to note is that newer PCIe version require newer and more powerful processors.
In the specs above, you can see that the x16 slot on this motherboard will work at PCIe v4.o only if the AMD Ryzen processor is from the newer 5000 and the 3000 series.
For the 4000G, 2000 and 2000G series Ryzen processors, the same slot will work at v3.0.
- What Are PCIe Lanes? – Beginners Guide
- Can I Use a PCIe 3.0 Card in a 2.0 Slot?
- 10 Things That Can Be Plugged in PCIe Slots
How to Check PCI Express Slot Version?
There are four simple ways that you can use to check the PCI Express version of the slot:
- Use a Free Third Party Software like GPU-Z
- Manually Check the Motherboard
- Check the Specsheet Online
- Use the Provided User Guide/Manual
1. Use a Free Third Party Software
This is the ideal way to check the PCI Express slot version for most users. It will provide a lot of information even for those who are not used to digging into their computers for information.
Different applications offer this service, and most do it at no cost to the user.
GPU-Z is a profiling tool that you can use to get information about the graphics card on your system. In addition to a plethora of useful information, it also highlights the PCIe slot and the version of the slot the graphics card is connected to.
The software is free to download.
Once installed, you will need to run it and let it collect the data it needs. It will then open into a window that shows you various tabs, indicating the different subsection into which the collected information is organized.
You will need to find the Graphics Card tab at the top. This one will contain various information about your GPU. You are basically looking for the field marked as “Bus Interface“.
Here you will see information about your PCIe connection. It will give you data about the PCIe version, and its transfer rate which will paint a good picture of your PCIe slot version.
Make sure that you have the right graphics card selected from the drop down menu at the bottom left of the window.
This software is not to be confused with CPU-Z which in itself is a great tool for finding out various aspects about the rest of the components on your system
While this methods works great if you have a dedicated graphics card installed, this utility does not work properly if you only have an integrated graphics card in your system.
As can be seen above, the utility could not read the Bus Interface when the Integrated GPU was selected. This is because the integrated GPU is found within the CPU, it is not connect to the PCIe interface.
2. Manually Checking the Motherboard
This method can be a little tricky for most users particularly those who do not have the technical expertise of opening up their PCs.
Many manufacturers use labels extensively for the different components on the motherboard.
Often times, the label for PCIe version your motherboard conforms to can be located on the motherboard itself.
So basically, what you need to do is open up your PC, and take a peek at the motherboard. If you have a clear side panel you may even do this without necessarily having to open it up – as long as your view isn’t obstructed.
This method may cause confusion for some users due to the fact that some motherboards have a combination of PCIe slots adhering to different versions. Hence, one slot may be operating at V4.0 while the other at V3.0 on the SAME motherboard.
For instance, the AMD B550 chipset motherboard like the ASUS ROG Strix B550 Gaming has the first PCIe x16 slot operating at V4.0 and the rest operating at V3.0.
On top of that some boards may not have any labeling for the PCIe version at all.
If that is the case with yours, then you can take this opportunity to find the board’s model number label which can most certainly be found on it physically; you will need the model name of your board for the next method.
3. Checking with the Manufacturer – The Most Recommended Method
The best method, in my opinion, is to check the PCIe version by visiting the manufacturer’s website as this gives you the most comprehensive details regarding the PCIe version of the slots on your motherboard.
You will need to know the make and model of your motherboard.
As mentioned above, you can find out the make and model by physically checking the motherboard for the model number label, or by accessing System Information (type msinfo64.exe in the Search Bar after pressing Windows button).
With the model number in hand, finding your board on the manufacturer’s product page should be fairly easy. Just Google the model number and visit the relevant spec sheet page for your board.
There, you will find detailed information about the PCIe slots and the version each and every slot conforms to. You will also get to know their generation along with other important information.
4. User Guide / Technical Manual
If it’s a new motherboard, you will likely get a user’s guide along with the packaging.
This document will contain important information about your motherboard, and you may even find information about the version of the PCI Express slots available.
Of course, if you have misplaced the manual, like most users do, and you do not recall the make and model of your motherboard, then you will have to follow other methods highlighted above.
Also Read: How to Check How Many PCIe Slots Do I Have
Before installing new expansion cards on a motherboard, knowing how to check PCI Express slot version is crucial to make sure everything is compatible.
There are many ways to do this and the amount of information you get regarding the PCIe slot and its version depends on the method you choose.
That said, you can use third-party applications to get information about PCIe versions on your computer
You may even do it yourself by opening your PC up, and checking for any labeling on the board.
However, the most recommended option by far is to check the official spec sheet for your board.
All in all, getting this information shouldn’t be much of a hassle.