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Are VGA and PCIe the Same Thing?

Regardless of the type of computer you’re using, the cables you use play a huge role in your computer’s overall performance. 

For instance, the difference between a VGA cable and an HDMI cable can make a drastic difference in the picture quality you see. 

Various cables combine to give you optimal performance, the two cables we’re comparing today are the VGA and the PCIe cables. 

If you’re thinking, “Aren’t VGA and PCIe the same thing?”, they aren’t. Both of these cables have vastly different functions. 

Let’s start by understanding what VGA cables are. 

What Is VGA?

BTO VGA to VGA Cable 6 Feet Long PC Computer Monitor
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Video Graphics Array (VGA) is a popular display standard that IBM created in 1987. 

Screens that source content via VGA cables provide a 640×480 resolution at 60 frames per second. VGA can only show 16 colors at this resolution, but if you lowered the resolution down to 320×200, you’d see 256 colors. 

VGA cables use analog signals, which means that they’re only capable of supporting lower resolution screens. 

Even though it may be common to find VGA connectors on PCs today, VGA technology has slowly become obsolete. Today, VGA technology has been replaced by HDMI, DVI, and DisplayPort. 

A VGA connector has 15 pins that are divided into three rows. Each of these pins has a distinct role. 

4Monitor Identification 2
5TTL Ground
6Red Analogue
7Green Analogue
8Blue Analogue
9Key (Plugged Hole)
10Sync Ground
11Monitor ID 0
12Monitor ID 1
13Horizontal Sync
14Vertical Sync
15Monitor ID 3

What Is PCIe?

PCIe 1 to 4 Riser Card
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Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe) is an interface standard used to link a computer’s fast components together. 

Every motherboard has slots for PCIe, which can be used to add GPUs (Graphics Processing Units), Wi-Fi cards, SSD (solid-state drive), or RAID cards. 

That said, the slots available on your PC will depend on the kind of motherboard you have. 

The different configurations of a PCIe slot are:

  • x1
  • x4
  • x8
  • x16

If you want, you can also place a x1 card into a x16 slot. Even though it will work, it’s going to receive less bandwidth. 

Most of the GPUs you will find on the market will require a x16 slot to work at their full potential. 

Side by Side Comparisons: Breaking It Down

1. Use Cases

VGA cables are used to connect a monitor to your computer. It transfers the display signal from your CPU to your computer’s display and other electronic devices. 

In comparison, PCIe slots are used to connect different high-speed components to your PC. Even though the connectivity options depend on your motherboard, several devices have extra PCIe slots right out of the box. 

Some common uses of PCIe slots are:

  • Adding a Sound Card or a Graphics Card

Adding a better graphic card can substantially improve your PC’s visual output. 

You can get your preferred graphic card from AMD or NVIDIA and install it into the PCIe slot. 

Moreover, you can also add an improved sound card to have a better multimedia experience. Swapping out a lower-quality sound card will make a significant difference. 

VGA cables and PCIe

  • Upgrading Storage

Are you running out of storage? Just install another SSD, and you’ll be set. 

Several PC users install additional drives to their PC to give it higher efficiency. This decision can also make sense for PC users who want additional speed. 

You can also install a RAID controller, which can manage your computer’s storage. 

  • Adding Wi-Fi Functionality

Several PCs and laptops have Wi-Fi functionality. However, having a stand-alone Wi-Fi card on your PC can be helpful in some cases. 

If your PC’s existing Wi-Fi connectivity system is malfunctioning, you can use your newly installed Wi-Fi card to bypass the existing system. 

VGA cable and PCIe

2. Affordability

VGA cards are affordable since the technology isn’t high in demand. But, then again, most people don’t use VGA technology nowadays. 

In terms of PCIe slots, affordability depends on the kind of card you choose. Ever since PCIe technology was introduced, it has been upgraded to different generations. 

All four generations have different prices, and the card’s price also depends on whether it’s an SSD slot or a graphic cards slot. 

3. Types

There are several kinds of VGA cables. Even though this technology is old, it has stayed in use thanks to the different kinds of connectors. 

Users can find different VGA ports in TVs, computers, graphics cards, monitors, and several other devices. 

The most prominent difference is that you’ll either see a VGA cable or an SVGA cable (which can support higher resolutions). 

The different connector genders are:

  • Male-to-male adapter
  • Male-to-female adapter
  • Female-to-male adapter
  • Female-to-female adapter

Some common configurations of VGA cable adapters and connectors you’ll see are:

  • USB-to-VGA
  • VGA-to-Phono
  • VGA-to-DVI-H
  • VGA -to-HDMI cable

There are four different generations of PCIe (as mentioned above) that a person can get:

  • PCI Express 1.0 (250 MB/s)
  • PCI Express 2.0 (500 MB/s)
  • PCI Express 3.0 (984.6 MB/s)
  • PCI Express 4.0 (1969 MB/s)

Blue VGA cables and PCIe

Comparison Table

Use cases
  • To connect your computer’s display unit to the CPU
  • It can be used to add a sound card or a graphic card
  • Upgrading storage
  • Adding Wi-Fi functionality
AffordabilityAffordable since not high in demandIt depends on the kind you’re buying
TypesVGA and SVGAPCIe 1, 2, 3, and 4


So there you have it: a detailed comparison between VGA cables and PCIe slots. 

Even though both components play an integral role in your overall setup, they have distinct roles. Which type of VGA cable or PCIe slot you get depends on your specific usage case.

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