GPU and Motherboard Compatibility: How to Check

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GPU and Motherboard Compatibility: How to Check

Key Points

  • Incompatible GPU and motherboard can result in underutilization or bottlenecked systems, leading to slower graphics.
  • Factors such as PCIe slots, slot generation, electrical lanes, and bandwidth determine GPU and motherboard compatibility.
  • Checking GPU and motherboard compatibility can be done by comparing specifications or using tools like PC Part Picker.

Ensuring that your components are compatible is essential in building a custom PC. While some parts can fit together in unideal circumstances, doing this can result in underutilization or bottlenecked systems. When your computer’s pieces aren’t meant to be used with each other, they may not work at an optimal speed. GPU and motherboard compatibility is crucial to understand when building a computer.

An incompatible GPU and motherboard could result in you getting less from the chipset you purchased. With the price of graphics cards these days, you’ll want to get everything you can out of the video adapter. Even the most powerful card can’t overcome hardware limitations like poor GPU and motherboard compatibility.

What Happens if My GPU and Motherboard Are Incompatible?

Several negative outcomes are a result of poor GPU and motherboard compatibility. Firstly, you may see that your graphics card is underutilized. Not using your video card to its fullest can result in slower, laggier graphics, even if your chipset should be able to handle the task.

Graphics cards need to process massive amounts of information quickly. You’ll need to ensure that the motherboard you purchase has a PCIe slot with a bandwidth appropriate for your video card. If your motherboard lacks the necessary bandwidth, the GPU won’t be able to receive and process data fast enough to produce high-quality graphics.

What Determines GPU and Motherboard Compatibility?

A few things determine GPU and motherboard compatibility. Firstly, you need a motherboard with a free PCIe slot. Secondly, the bus must be the correct generation to support your new graphics cards. Thirdly, it must have enough electrical lanes for your desired video card. Finally, it must have enough bandwidth to process the graphical data efficiently.

PCIe Slots

PCIe 3.0 vs 4.0
PCIe connects high-speed components like graphics cards and solid-state drives to a computer’s motherboard.

©Billion Photos/Shutterstock.com

First of all, your motherboard needs a free PCIe slot. While this may seem like a no-brainer, some users may still have older motherboards that do not feature PCIe slots and have the depreciated PCI slot instead.

PCIe cards should still work with a PCI slot. However, they will be limited to the physical limitations of the PCI slot, and you won’t get the most out of your new graphics card if it’s in a depreciated bus.

Additionally, many consumer graphics cards take up the space of two PCIe slots. These are called “dual-slot” cards; if you’re purchasing one, you’ll need an additional PCIe slot for the video card to fit on your motherboard.

Some video cards even require the space of three or four slots. In these cases, you’ll need quite a bit of additional room in your case to accommodate them. Additionally, you’re unlikely to use any other PCIe cards with these graphics cards installed.

PCIe Slot Generation

Your PCIe slot’s generation also matters when it comes to your GPU’s performance. When the PCI Special Interest Group (PCI-SIG) releases a new PCIe standard, it doubles the bus bandwidth. PCIe cards are backward compatible with previous slot generations. However, using a video card with a preceding generation slot will artificially limit the graphics card with the bus.

Electrical Lanes

PCIe slots use an electrical interface called a lane. A single lane represents a send/receive data line, similar to a highway lane in both directions. They contain a differential signaling pair, allowing information transfer both ways.

Consumer lane configurations come in sets of ×1, ×4, ×8, ×16. ×32 lane slots exist, but typically, you’ll only see them on server motherboards. Most high-end graphics cards need a ×16 PCIe slot to run at their best. However, for many mid-range cards, a ×8 lane slot will do for light-to-medium task loads.

How to Check GPU and Motherboard Compatibility

You can check your GPU and motherboard compatibility by looking at the graphics card and motherboard specifications. Ensure that the motherboard and video card have compatible specifications. We’ll provide a cheat sheet for the most recent graphics chipsets.

Graphics Card ChipsetPCIe GenerationIdeal PCIe Slot WidthSlot Configuration
NVIDIA RTX 3050PCIe 4.0×161–3 Slots
NVIDIA RTX 3060PCIe 4.0×162–3 Slots
NVIDIA RTX 3060 TiPCIe 4.0×162–3 Slots
NVIDIA RTX 3070PCIe 4.0×162–4.3 Slots
NVIDIA RTX 3070 TiPCIe 4.0×162 Slots
NVIDIA RTX 3080PCIe 4.0×162–3 Slots
NVIDIA RTX 3080 TiPCIe 4.0 ×162–3 Slots
NVIDIA RTX 3090PCIe 4.0×162–3 Slots
NVIDIA RTX 3090 TiPCIe 4.0×162–3 Slots
NVIDIA RTX 4060PCIe 4.0×162–3 Slots
NVIDIA RTX 4060 TiPCIe 4.0×162–3 Slots
NVIDIA RTX 4070PCIe 4.0×162–3 Slots
NVIDIA RTX 4070 TiPCIe 4.0×162–4 Slots
NVIDIA RTX 4080PCIe 4.0×162–4 Slots
NVIDIA RTX 4080 TiPCIe 4.0×162–3 Slots
NVIDIA RTX 4090PCIe 4.0×162–4 Slots
NVIDIA RTX 4090 TiPCIe 4.0×162–3 Slots
Radeon RX 6400PCIe 4.0×162 Slots
Radeon RX 6500 XTPCIe 4.0×162 Slots
Radeon RX 6600PCIe 4.0×162 Slots
Radeon RX 6600 XTPCIe 4.0×162 Slots
Radeon RX 6700PCIe 4.0×162 Slots
Radeon RX 6700 XTPCIe 4.0×162 Slots
Radeon RX 6750 XTPCIe 4.0×162–3 Slots
Radeon RX 6800 PCIe 4.0×162–3 Slots
Radeon RX 6800 XTPCIe 4.0×162 Slots
Radeon RX 6900 XTPCIe 4.0×162 Slots
Radeon RX 6950 XTPCIe 4.0×162 Slots
Radeon RX 7600PCIe 4.0×162 Slots
Radeon RX 7700 XTPCIe 4.0×162–3 Slots
Radeon RX 7800 XTPCIe 4.0×162–3 Slots
Radeon RX 7900 XTPCIe 4.0×162–3 Slots
Radeon RX 7900 XTXPCIe 4.0×162–3 Slots

Checking GPU and Motherboard Compatibility with PC Part Picker

gpu and motherboard compatibility
PC Part Picker allows you to input your prospective build to ensure compatibility between components.


A more straightforward way than searching through spec sheets to find all the necessary metrics is to plug the components you’ve chosen into PC Part Picker and let the tool do the work for you. It allows you to input computer parts, and it will suggest compatible parts to add to your build. It’s the easiest way to determine if your projected computer will work efficiently.

Not only will PC Part Picker suggest and test your prospective computer’s compatibility, but it will also add up the cost and necessary wattage for your build. It’s every PC builder’s best friend!

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