Can you use just the second PCI-E 16x slot?

I'm looking at various motherboards for use with an i7 860 and while they all are feature-rich, I notice that they all put the PCI-E 16x slot at the very top (or second to top). I'm going to be using a Radeon 5850 with a custom cooler that will take up a lot of space -- I think 3 slots. I really don't want to block all of my PCI-E 1x slots and this seems a bit of an oversight in designing considering how few graphics cards out there only take up one slot.

My question is, since there is usually a second PCI-E 16x slot on there (but only one of the two can function at 16x at a time), can I just stick my graphics card in the second one and leave the first one open and use it as a PCI-E 1x? How flexible is the configuration on these motherboards for that?

I'd rather the legacy PCI slots get covered up as I most likely will never use them.
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  1. Believe not with socker 1156, yes with some socket 1333
  2. That kinda sucks. What do you guys do, just give up 2 PCI-E slots?
  3. Pretty much, yes. But it usually does not come as a surprise.

    This is one of the reasons that, in addition to price and features, you should look closely at the PCB layout.
  4. metafor said:
    That kinda sucks. What do you guys do, just give up 2 PCI-E slots?

    Yes it does. But the alternative is to simply leave them off the board so they won't get covered and have fewer slots. That doesn't really help anyone and at least they are there for those who can make use of them.
  5. I don't know why they put the PCI-E slots right below instead of the regular PCI slots. I expect people building their own rigs to have stopped using PCI by now.
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