What Are PCI-E X1 Slots Used For?

Mehak Sohail | Last Updated On July 19th, 2022

The PCI-E slots (know what can be plugged into PCIe slots here) play a very crucial role as it connects the motherboard with the computer’s critical components. Now, a PCIe x1 slot can be used to connect with the PCIe expansion cards that have a low transfer rate.

Expansion cards that have a low transfer rate are sound cards, network adapter cards, etc.

If you are one of those guys who like to do all the work and build a PC all by themselves, having an overview of the PCIe slots will not be sufficient. You got to know about it more fully. You also need to know how many PCI-E cables you would need.

What are these PCIe slots?

Do you know what PCIe stands for? The PCIe means Peripheral Component Interconnect Express.

The PCIe is the mode that establishes the connection between the motherboard and its high-powered components. The PCIe slots have variant sizes, and the x1 is the smallest of all.

Do not worry; motherboards have x16, x4, and x1 slots.

The PCIe gets its name because this unit is primarily designed to maintain the connection of non-core components. The “e” in its name comes from the manufacturers, which signifies the enhancements and improvements over its predecessors.

The terms like (PCIe Cards or Expansion Cards) refers to some hardware components like the HDDs (Hard Disk Drive), SSDs (Solid State Drive), GPU (Graphics Processing Unit), etc.

Know the difference between a PCIe 2.0 vs 3.0 by reading this guide.

Now that you know what these slots are, let us talk about; what are these used for?

What Are PCI-E X1 Slots Used For?

Even after being the smallest of all, the x1 slot still has a lot to offer. Like it is said above, cards that have a lower transfer rate use this slot. Cards that use the PCIe x1 slot are as follows:

Expansion Card

The expansion cards, aka SATA, come in handy when connecting the mass storage devices to the motherboard. SATA stands for Serial Advanced Technology Attachment. This is the best way to install mass storage devices on your motherboard. To know how many SATA cables you need and how you can add SATA ports to a motherboard, we have those articles for you to read.

Sound Cards

If you feel the inbuilt sound chipsets are not enough, you can install a sound card on your motherboard using the xi PCIe slot.

These sounds cards have a comparatively lower requirement of bandwidth and do not produce bulk data. Therefore, you can install these external sound cards to get a greater sound reproduction.

These sounds cards are lovely as they offer you many ports and shield electromagnetic intrusions.

This is a great way of enhancing the visuals and also improves your overall multimedia experience.


Sometimes installing a sound chip is not necessary as the graphics card. Instead, all you need to do is get a hold of some sound accessories such as speakers or headphones (and we have some headphone recommendations under 100 dollars). These accessories can deliver a top-notch audio experience.

Network Cards

I can install network cards using the PCIe x1 slot.

There are two variants of network cards –

  • Wi-Fi cards
  • Ethernet cards

In most cases, you do not need to install an Ethernet card because most motherboards come with pre-installed Ethernet cards.

Now, if you wish to have Wi-Fi connectivity, you will have to install a Wi-Fi card on your motherboard.

USB Ports

Sometimes you may feel you do not have many USB ports in your motherboard. Now, if you wish to have more USB ports, you should install an expansion USB port using a PCIe x1 slot.

Video Cards

A video card records the video motions and converts them to digital data that is stored securely in your device. The video signals recorded in these video cards can be edited and streamed as well.

These cards collect data from sources like cameras, gaming consoles, or televisions, etc. for this particular reason, these cards have attracted mainstream media. They are pretty dear to streamers and gamers.

Also, if you wish to install an FHD video card, it can be installed using a PCIe x1 slot. However, if you want to install a 4k video capture card, you would need 4x PCIe slots.

Television Card

Installing a television card will let you track television signals directly on your desktop. With this card, you can save shows and watch them later if you wish.

In other words, installing a television card will make your desktop no less than a TV.

Riser Cards

Another component that you can install using an x1 PCIe slot is a riser card. This way, you can increase the number of the slot in your motherboard.

Also, increasing the slots will not increase the PCIe lanes. Also, you should keep in mind that all your slots will only have a combined transfer rate of host slots. Meaning, if you split one slot into four, this is not going to 4x the throughput of one lane.

When the talking is about PCIe slots, then we have got to discuss the PCIe lanes as well –

PCIe Lanes

In simple words, the PCIe lanes act as highway networks that connect the slots and the installed expansion cards to the Central Processing Unit.

The greater the number of lanes owned by the slot, the greater the transfer rate of the designated slot will be. So, for example, an x4 slot will have a transfer rate, which is going to be four times the rate of the x1 slot.

The motherboards that are solely made for commercial purposes, a PCIe slot has 16 lanes. So, hopefully, you can guess the speed.

The x16 slots are currently the largest of all, and they can hold up some demanding cards that produce a lot of data, such as the graphics cards.

The only downside to these PCIe lanes is that the number of lanes is limited. A fully well-made PC will roughly have about 24 lanes. Now 16 of these lanes are required to install the graphics chipset.

Depending on how the manufacturer designed the motherboard, the remaining ones can either be four x1 slots or one x4 slot.

PCIe Version Plays a Role in Speed

The PCIe generations have a crucial impact on the transfer rate of the slot, not just the slot, but the devices attached to the slots too face the impact.

As you can see the speed or transfer rate in this table, it is evident that the transfer rate wholly depends on the generation or version of the PCIe slots.

The latest the version, the more responsive and the better the transfer rate is.

In most motherboards, you can find the 3rd gen PCIe slots. Currently, the 4th gen slots are still gaining popularity, and the 4th gen slots will have a transfer rate of 2GB per second.

Over the years, people or tech enthusiasts have seen substantial improvements. In the year 2020, there were quicker releases of the newly updated components. There are many more to come; all these improvements will surely have an impact and unleash the true performance.


Now that you have read till here, I hope this article helped you grab the concept of the PCIe slots and PCIe lanes.

In this article, I have shared the information that you were looking for. So now, if you wish to build your PC, this article is going to help.

Also, stuffing the cards into the slots will not do the trick, but knowing which slot to use and saving space is the key.

That is about it, and if you find idle slots, you can install some of the devices mentioned above

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