What Is Different About a Blue PCI Card Slot?

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What Is Different About a Blue PCI Card Slot?
PCI slots (white ones, left of centre) were a replacement to slow and larger ISA slots (black ones, far left). (Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) slots have long served as a universal method to install add-on cards in personal computers. Though these slots are generally white, there is no standard that equates the port's colour to its purpose. Therefore, the purpose of a single blue PCI slot will vary between different manufacturers of motherboards. There are, however, a few common possibilities to consider.

PCI Express Slot

Developed in 1992, the original PCI standard allowed components to communicate with devices at speeds ranging from 33 to 66 megahertz (MHz). As computers sped up, this standard was at risk of becoming too slow to accommodate high-speed data buses. In 1999, the first PCI Express (PCI-e) standard was developed that had a similar interface as traditional PCI, but offered significant advantages. Over time, motherboard manufacturers have slowly integrated the new standard onto motherboards while maintaining some older PCI slots for compatibility. In these instances, the blue slot is likely the PCI-Express slot, while the others are regular slots.

Different PCI-Express Speeds

The PCI-e standards have evolved over time to offer newer features and faster speeds. As of the time of publication, PCI-e has already gone through three major revisions. Though these newer slots are generally backwards compatible with other PCI-e revisions, computer builders will want to put the more modern components in the newer PCI-e slots. Graphics cards are generally a prime target for the most up-to-date standards. To facilitate this efficient use of hardware, motherboard builders will set these newer-standard PCI-e slots apart by making them a separate colour.

Advanced Communications Riser

The Advanced Communications Riser (ACR) is not actually a PCI standard; however, it appears the same as a PCI slot, only rotated 180 degrees. These slots are specifically design for applications, such as sound or Ethernet cards, which need uninterrupted communication with the CPU. In order to avoid the confusion, motherboard manufacturers may occasionally colour this slot differently than others.


Motherboard manufacturers have long been applying unique colours and effects to the circuit board. A rise in customer-built PCs with cases that display the internal components have created a market for custom colours. If the motherboard only has a few PCI connections, it is entirely possible that the blue slot stands as a purely aesthetic choice by the manufacturer.

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