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I am trying to figure out what devices are in my desktop computer's PCI slots. I need an open slot for installing a wireless adapter, and I cannot figure out which ones I can take out, and which ones I can't.

If there is a sound device in one of the slots, I have no problem with removing it, as I do not need my speakers for this computer.

Any help with determining which slots have what is appreciated.

Thanks.

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Can you take a look in the case and see? Otherwise it could be difficult. Some devices use internal PCI or PCI-E connection and appear just like devices in slots to software. –  AndrejaKo Oct 23 '11 at 21:46
    
1) What operating system are you using? 2) If you're not using and not sure if you have a sound card, you probably won't have a dedicated card unless your computer is really old. Since a buck of years soundchip are either integrated or you add a better card yourself, but then you know about this. 3) There are wireless usb sticks, too - maybe that's an alternative? –  Jens Erat Oct 23 '11 at 21:50

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Some solutions for different operating systems:

  • Linux: lspci will print information about PCI-cards (also PCIe)
  • Mac OS X: Use "System Profiler": Apple button in the top left corner of the system menu, then "About this Mac", then System Information
  • Windows: There are lots of system information tools around. HWiNFO is a free one.

All of these will only print information about which chips are attached to the PCI/PCIe-bus. They cannot tell you whether these are soldered on a card which is plugged into your computer or are directly soldered onto your motherboard, so you still will need to open the case. Some chips never were soldered directly on a board, you might have some luck searching the internet for the chipname and onboard. Opening the case will still be the easiest way.

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lshw should give information on nearly everything on linux, likewise device manager on windows. I have no clue about OS X unfortunately –  Journeyman Geek Oct 23 '11 at 23:39

There is no one answer fits all as you have not specified Operating system, and on top of that, different motherboard manufacturers change the way their on board devices operate.

For example, an on board audio, on board ethernet or other devices can all present themselves to the operating system* as plugged in to a PCIe slot.

If you have a Windows machine, you can right click on Computer and then choose Manage. Go to Device Manager/Management and through the menu bar click View > Resources by connection. You can then expand Interrupt request (IRQ).

However, as I said, this can be unreliable, and it will not give an easy slot number/what is in it.

By far the easiest thing you can do, especially as you are going to open the computer up, is to open it up and just see what is in the sockets.

* To explain a little further, many devices do more than look like they are PCIe/PCI, Many actually are PCIe/PCI devices that are simply embedded on the motherboard.

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