How to Unlock PCIe Slot Clip, Lock, Latch?

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The PCIe slot can be unlocked by either pressing the latch button on the side or by pressing latch lever down, depending upon the type of clip your PCIe slot has. We will discuss below in detail how to unlock the PCIe slot clip.

It is worth nothing that not all PCIe slots have the clips, aka latch or locks. These are generally found only on the large x16 slots which are designed to hold larger and heavier expansion cards like a graphics card.

If you are removing the installed card on this slot, you will need to know how to unlock the clip carefully as brute forcing your way through and pulling the card out can easily damage the slot, the motherboard, or the installed card.

Essentially, the mechanisms of the lock, known as the butterfly lock, can be undone by pushing down on the lever. It shouldn’t take a lot of pressure to do this and the card should pop up a bit if correctly done.

Some users have broken the clip. Usually, this won’t damage the slot. But you will need to screw in the card to an appropriate bracket to keep it firm.

What Does the PCIe Clip/Latch Look Like and What is Its Purpose?

There can be different types of clips. Some have an unlocking button on the side, whereas, other have a lever like unlocking mechanism.

The following motherboard has a PCIe clip with an unlocking mechanism on the side.

what does a pcie clip look like

In any case, the purpose of the clip is to keep the card securely fitted inside the slot and offer some protection against movements that can cause damages to the slot or the card itself.

Since graphics cards tend to be very heavy, they have the tendency to slip out of the slot if they are not harnessed properly within the PCIe slot.

This is particularly an issue on a average PC because a motherboard is not laid flat inside the case. Instead, the case is lifted to a 90 degrees and hence a heavy card like a GPU can slip out if not secured in place.

Also Read: How to Add More PCIe Slots?

How to Unlock PCIe Slot Clip?

The process involved in this depends on the state of the clip itself. If your card is stuck and you want to unlock the clip to remove it, you will need to be extra careful, as opposed to when you have a correctly functioning clip.

That said, there are 5 essential tips to follow to unlock the PCIe slot Clip and remove the GPU from it.

  1. Power Down Your System
  2. Remove the Case Access Panels
  3. Position the System
  4. Remove Cable and the Retainer Screw
  5. Unlock the PCIe Clip/Latch

1. Power Down Your System

If your computer has been running, you will need to switch it off first before you get started with opening it up.

Furthermore, you will need to disconnect it from any external power supplies. This is done to prevent injuries to yourself or short circuits that can damage PC components.

You may also need to let the computer cool down a bit if its too hot.

If you can, wear an electrostatic wrist band or earth yourself by touching a metallic surface like the case if applicable.

2. Remove the Case Access Panels

Most computer cases come with an easy access panel that lets you work on the setups internals without necessarily needing to do much disassembly.

You will need to identify the access panel on your computer and find out whether it uses screws or any other catch system and undo it.

This will give you access to the motherboard for what comes next.

3. Position the System

Position the system in a way that you will be comfortable to work with. You can leave it upright if you want, but if you have a card installed already, you may want to lay it on its side. This will make it easier to remove the card after its retainer screw is removed.

Be careful when doing this though, especially if you have a liquid cooling system or some components that aren’t properly attached.

4. Remove Cables and Retainer Screw

graphics card connected

Most graphics cards have cables that deliver power from the PSU. These need to be taken out if you will be removing the card. It will also make the work area a bit cleaner and easier to work on.

Also, remove the retainer screw attaching the GPU to the Case. It is also meant to provide support for the card. DO NOT PULL THE CARD UNTIL THE RETAINER SCREW IS REMOVED.

Also Read: How Many PCIe Cables Do I Need?

5. Unlocking the PCIe Clip

Now let’s see how to unlock PCIe slot clip. If the slot is locked then there’s a good chance the card has already been installed. In which case, the clip will be under the card.

This is often missed as a larger graphics card can easily block your vision of the clip.

If there’s no installed card, then look at the PCIe slot itself and you will notice structures at the ends that look like levers. These are used to catch the expansion card as it goes into the slot and give it rigid support.

Also, every large expansion card like a graphics card that goes into the x16 slot has a notch that goes into these clips/latches:

graphics card notch
Graphics card notch

Unlocking is easy. The clip will be on one side of the slot. You will have to push it down gently. This shouldn’t take a lot of force.

press in to open latch

Again, as mentioned earlier, the clip unlocking mechanism may defer from board to board. The board above has a lever on the side. others may have it on a different position.

If a card is in the slot you may not be able to find it until you see at the bottom of the card crevice.

open graphics card

To unlock it, press it down with your finger gently but firmly. As soon as the lock disengages, the card might pop up a bit.

From here on, you can go ahead and remove the card.

Risks

While the process is very straight forward, it can be a bit challenging for users who do not have a lot of experience with opening up their systems.

As such, there is a risk of damage to components as well as harm to the user if proper care isn’t taken. This is more so prominent if the PCIe clip is damaged or if the card does not pull out of PCIe slot gently.

What To Do If PCIe Clip is Damaged?

If you have found yourself in the predicament where the PCIe clip is damaged and your card is still stuck in the slot, then you can try gently removing the latch from the PCIe slot with help of a screw driver and a set of pliers.

open the latch screw driver w

We highly recommend that you take it to a repair shop if you do not have the tools or the right skill set to perform this.

Conclusion

Now that you know how to unlock PCIe slot clip, you should be confident with undoing the one on your motherboard.

The clips are meant to keep the card firmly in place and some are even reinforced to better serve that purpose.

If you need to install or remove a card, the clip needs to be removed first. The biggest challenge can be reaching the clip. If it is under a card and if your components are closely stacked, you might need to be extra careful.

Just make sure NEVER to use brute force.

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Author:

Atif Qazi
Atif Qazi is the founder of PCGuide101. He is a digital nomad who loves everything PC. He is a PC builder, tech enthusiast, engineer, and a lover of single player lore-rich RPG games.

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