PC Gear Lab

How to Unlock PCIe Slot Clip? – 5 Steps

If you are installing or removing some PCIe cards, you will need to know how to unlock PCIe slot clip. The clip helps keep the card securely fitted inside the slot and offers some protection against movements that can cause damages to the slot or the card itself.

You need the proper technique to unlock the clip. One of the mechanisms 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.

Executing the unlocking without taking proper precautions can result in damages to your system.

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.

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, let’s see how to unlock PCIe slot clip.

1. Power Down

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 kill your rig.

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

2. Remove the Access Panel

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.

A point to note, you should be aware that ESD (Electrostatic Discharge) can damage your PC. If you can, wear an electrostatic wrist band or earth yourself by touching a metallic surface like the case if applicable.

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

Some cards have cables that deliver power. 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. This may be the one holding the card up and exposing some ports to the outside. It is meant to provide support for the card.

5. Unlocking

How to Unlock PCIe Slot Clip
Source: Dell.com

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.

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.

No Card

This is easy if you have no card in the slot. The clip will be on one side of the slot. It works a little like a lever, so you will have to push it down gently. This shouldn’t take a lot of force.

Card Installed

If a card is in the slot, no worries. The clip will be under the card and will be in the locked position.

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.

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This process can be a bit challenging for users who do not have a lot of experience with opening up and doing maintenance on their computers.

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 of more work will be done on the disassembled computer.

Furthermore, when unlocking the clip, it can be damaged. Luckily, you can go ahead and still use the slot as long as the slot itself is fine. You will need to ensure it’s properly screwed into place though, for stability.

Fixing Damaged Clips

If you know how to unlock PCIe slot clip and you end up damaging it, you may be interested to know that it can be fixed.

You will need to take it to a technician though if you aren’t sure about what you are doing. The old clip will be removed and a replacement one will be installed. Done correctly, the board will return to its original state.

You will need to be careful though, as this procedure can potentially void your warranty.


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 some tools.

You can use a thin and soft, non-conductive tool to reach and unlock the clip.

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PCGearLab.com is essentially the culmination of our enthusiasm towards this subject. We review PC peripherals and hardware, talk about custom builds and informative topics regarding troubleshooting issues, understanding a component better and general tips for DIY PC builders.

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