PCI-Express Vs. AGP: Which To Choose?

What is PCI-Express and AGP?

There are two ways to connect a graphics card to a motherboard, either via an AGP or PCI Express slot located on your motherboard. A motherboard only supports one of these slots, so if you’re looking for a new video card make sure you’re aware of whether your motherboard supports AGP, or PCI-Express.

AGP has been the standard for a long time now, but it is old technology. Its days are almost over, and it’s only a matter of time until PCI-Express completely takes over and AGP is left for dead.

Advantages of PCI-Express

The benefit of PCI Express is that it can handle a greater data throughput than an AGP slot. PCI Express offers performance of up to 4 times faster than the fastest AGP slot. It’s relatively new technology, and it isn’t being used to its full potential yet. Although, we predict that games released in the next 1-2 years will make full use of PCI Express technology.

Another advantage of PCI Express is you can connect more than one video card to your computer for extra performance. This is impossible with AGP, since a motherboard can only ever have one AGP slot.

Should I Buy a PCI-Express or AGP Video Card?

If you’re simply upgrading your gaming computer with a new video card, you should check whether your motherboard supports AGP or PCI Express, and then choose a card accordingly. Don’t worry if your motherboard has an AGP slot. Even though it’s not the latest technology, AGP is going to stay around for a long time. You can still find a great video card with AGP.

On the other hand, if you’re building a new system from scratch, you have the choice. We recommend choosing a gaming video card with PCI Express, and a motherboard that supports it. As we said before, the games of the future will soon harness the power of this new technology, leaving AGP in the dark. So by choosing PCI Express now, it will save you the upgrade later when AGP becomes obsolete.

Another thing to keep in mind is not to confuse PCI-Express with its older cousin PCI. A long time ago you would connect your graphics card through a PCI slot on your motherboard. This is very slow compared to today’s standards, and is never used anymore.

Hopefully this article has enlightened you about the issues regarding AGP and PCI-Express. If you want to know more about video cards and how to choose a good one for gaming, check out the gaming video card guide.

About the Author
Check out Julien David’s Web site at Build-Gaming-Computers.com to learn about building a high-performance gaming computer. It includes modern information on choosing the best components for your gaming PC, and suggestions on which parts to buy.

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  • andrew

    um, i was wondering if u have a agp slot on ur motherboard, is there a way toc hange it to PCI express without needing to replaces your entire motherboard?

  • http://www.matthartley.com Matt Hartley

    Hi Andrew, I think you might be confusing PCI with PCI Express.

    “…A motherboard only supports one of these slots” ~ From above.

    So if you have an AGP slot (generally different color than the rest of the slots, often has a locking mechanism), then that is as fast as that board is going to go. Going regular PCI would actually be slower and PCI Express is not going to be on a board with AGP.

    If you’re looking at going with PCI Express, you will likely be looking at a new board.

    Hope this helps.

  • http://www.matthartley.com Matt Hartley

    Ah, just read your question again: short answer is no, the board has to go.

  • Susy Urquiza

    Hi Julien,

    I am a technical recruiter and I am having some challenges finding a Test Engineer with a PCI Express Plus Test background. By any chance, do you know of any professional network group? Any information you can provide will be deeply appreciated.


    Susy Urquiza
    Technical Staffing Supervisor
    Superior Group

  • Maryna


    I have a new motherboard and it shows to AGP, but my computer don’t have a AGP-port at the back.

    Please HELP!!!

  • s34rch

    thanks, good info. simple, clear, exactly what i was looking for.

  • john

    My motherboard shows a agp slot and a pci express slot on the cover. It’s a dual series motherboard by asrock. 4coredual-vsta/a/asr. Right now i use pc for strictley gaming and want to upgrade my 256mb radeon graphics card. What do you suggest I do? Other PC specs: dual-core 2.4 ghz 6600 processor, 2 gigs of ddr2 ram, windows vista ultimate.

  • http://www.friendster.com Dina Lynne G. Mosquiola

    this article is such a big help to my studies……this is one of my assignments in my major subject coz im a COMTECH student…….tnx for posting this article…

  • http://accountinglectures.com/ Accounting Teacher

    Thanks for the advice. Can you provide me the picture of both of the cards.

  • Nouman

    hey man really nice information…. thanks man…………