PC Gear Lab

How to Tell If a PCIe Slot Is Bad? – 5 Methods

If you have been experiencing some problems with your motherboard, particularly in regards to malfunctioning PCIe peripherals, you are probably here to learn how to tell if a PCIe slot is bad.

You can do this yourself by testing the slot with different cards that fit. That means, taking out a working card and insert it into the slot in question. You can then proceed to check if the card still works. You can also check using some computer programs.

If you are going to proceed with the manual way by testing a slot with different cards, you will need to take extra care to avoid any damages.

Checking through the use of functional utilities should be easy for most people and can provide a lot of insight as to what the problem might be and how to solve it.

How to Tell If a PCIe Slot Is Bad?

There are several ways to go about this and they depend on the tools and utilities you have at your disposal.

PCIe slots are used by the computer to extend functionality by having expansion cards. Things like WIFI cards, sound cards, and graphics cards can be added to improve the PC’s features.

If you notice a problem after a new card installation and are unsure as to what the problem might be, here are some tips on how to tell if a PCIe slot is bad.

1. Using the Device Manager

Device Manager Main
Device Manager main default view

If you are on Windows, using the device manager is the quickest way to determine whether your computer has hardware problems.

You get access to all the devices connected to the motherboard as well as their statuses and even their driver versions. From this information, you may be able to tell whether you have a bad PCIe Slot.

To get to the device manager, click the start button and on the search textbox that appears, type “Device Manager”, and click on the first result.

Likewise, from the start button, you can search for “Control Panel”. On its main menu, select “Hardware and Sound”, then find “Devices and Printers”, under which you will find the selection for Device Manager.

Finding the Problem

Different device entries are grouped into categories. To find the problematic device, see if you can locate an entry with an exclamation mark symbol.

This indicates a problem with the particular hardware.

2. Checking the Bios

The BIOS (Basic Input Output System) is the first piece of software that runs every time you start a computer.

It is in charge of ensuring every bit of hardware connected to the computer that’s necessary for operation is up and running before the system can load the OS.

It is also used to configure various hardware on the computer which can come in handy if you need to tell whether you have a bad PCIe slot.

Accessing the BIOS

You can use the BIOS utility before the computer boots into the OS. There are various key combinations to access it and they will depend on the motherboard.

Find the BIOS key for your computer, then restart the computer while pressing that key. Usually, this is the F2 or the DEL key on most computers.

The booting process will be interrupted and you will be taken to the BIOS utility.

Finding the PCIe Settings

This will depend on the bios version you are running. Nevertheless, you will likely find the settings for PCIe under the advanced settings tab.

You will need to look see if all the PCIe slots are listed and also you need to ensure they are enabled.

Sometimes the slot with a graphics card can be disabled if your motherboard comes with an integrated GPU. This may cause the installed GPU to fail and you may mistakenly think that the slot is bad.

3. Using a PCIe Test Card

PCIe test card
A PCIe slot test kit

This is a comprehensive solution for how to tell if a PCIe slot is bad. A PCIe test card offers basic features that allow you to test the performance of your slot and will even alert you of any present issues.

Some come with status LEDs that give you a glance at the slot’s various performance parameters as soon as you switch on the card.

Some products offer a comprehensive analysis kits to test your PCIe slots. These are great if you run a IT store.

How this Works:

test cards pcie

Just like a regular expansion card, you insert this unit into the PCIe slot in question. The computer needs to be off for this and proper care should be taken.

Once installed, you switch on the computer, and the card will immediately be powered and start analyzing your computer.

Some come with software that you can install on your computer to let you run comprehensive tests against your PCIe slot. This is a great way to find problems with your slot.

4. Good Old Visual Inspection

Of course, it goes without saying that you could always rely on your eyes as the first and the easiest measure to figure out if your PCIe slot is bad.

The things you should be look for is visible damage to the pins lining the PCIe slot.

Doing so you may also come across dust accumulated removing which can result in a quick fix for your bad PCIe slot.

5. Process of Elimination

You can use the process of elimination to find out if your PCIe slot has a problem. This is a little straightforward but can be risky.

Essentially, you will need to have at least two PCIe slots and maybe an extra expansion card that works.

What you do is, take out the card from the suspected faulty slot, insert it into another slot, and see if it works. If it does, the card is probably fine and the slot may be the issue.

You can also install a working card into the slot you’re testing. If it fails, chances are that the slot is bad.

Also Read:


PCIe slots can be tricky to diagnose, especially when you do not have the necessary tools to test them.

However, we have seen how to tell if a PCIe slot is bad, and there are different ways to go about it.

There are cards available that can test a PCIe slot and these can give you a lot of information about the slot and even its data bandwidth.

This can be costly, however. Luckily, with the process of elimination, you can use some of your available tools.

The bios and device manager can also be great resources for diagnosis.

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