PCI and PCI Express (PCIe) USB 3.0 cards

There are two types of expansion slots on computers, PCI and PCI Express (PCIe). Both slots accept USB 3.0 cards and can be used to add USB 3.0 ports.

PCI expansion slots

A USB 3.0 expansion card can be inserted into this PCI slot.

These are older slots that do not support the full 4800 Mb/s superspeed connection. They do however support up to 2000 Mb/s.


That’s still over 4 times the speed of USB 2.0! If your computer only has these slots you can still upgrade to USB 3.0.


These cards come with low height and full height brackets making them compatible with all size computers. The sata port means that even high power USB devices will work.


This 2 port card from StarTech features sata power, both brackets and is an economical way to add USB 3.0 to your computer.

PCI Express (also known as PCIe) expansion slots

PCIe slots support the full USB 3.0 speed.

These are the most common slots on newer motherboards manufactured in the last couple of years. These expansion slots come in different sizes; x1, x4, x8 and x16. The bigger sizes are intended for components like graphics cards because they require more data channels.

The good news is that the majority of USB 3.0 PCIe cards are of the x1 size, which means that it can slot into ALL PCIe slots, no matter the size. In other words a x1 card can fit into a x4, x8 and x16 expansion slot.

The USB 3.0 PCI-E Card Inateck featured in the video also comes in a 5 port version.

The Anker PCIe card is a best seller and adds USB 3.0 ports to your computer.

If you want maximum speed with multiple devices plugged in at the same time, this Startech PCI Express with dedicated bus channels is an excellent choice.

Check what version of PCIe slot your motherboard supports

The original PCIe version was v1.0 and this does not support the new USB 3.0 speeds. Therefore make sure your motherboard supports PCIe version 2.0 and above. You can find this out by checking the documentation online for your computer’s motherboard. Sometimes the version is written on the motherboard next to the expansion slot.

Other points to note:

Some new usb 3 pci cards require power from your computers power supply. See the different power cables you may need here.

Check here to see the different sized brackets for the form factor size of your computer.