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Answered: PCI vs. AGP vs. PCIe? Time to Upgrade! (2022)

Wondering what the difference is between PCI-Express, PCI, and AGP? If you're still using a computer with a PCI or AGP slot, it's likely time to upgrade your PC!

ELSA GLoria II Pro - AGP Graphic Card

Last Updated: December 30, 2021

Written by Kevin Jones

PCI vs. AGP vs. PCI-Express

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PCI-Express is currently the dominant bus for connecting expansion cards and devices (alongside USB, which is used for externally connected devices). AGP and PCI are typically no longer relevant due to their slow throughput rates of 2133 MB/s and 533 MB/s, respectively. The modern PCI-Express bus (version 4.0), on the other hand, can reach up to 32 GB/s when 16 lanes are used.

Check out my Recommended PCIe 5.0 CPUs and Motherboards below.

What Is PCI?

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PCI stands for Peripheral Component Interconnect. PCI is a computer bus used for attaching devices to a computer via expansion boards.

After PCI was introduced in 1992, computer owners could use PCI slots on a motherboard for attaching numerous types of expansion boards. PCI expansion boards include graphics cards, sound cards, modems, TV tuners, additional USB ports, and hard drive adapters.

When PCI was introduced, it replaced various other slots on a motherboard, such as ISA and VESA Local Bus (VLB).

PCI can reach a throughput of 533 MB/s.

Even in 2021, there are still a few motherboards available with PCI slots alongside newer ports. However, for any new PC build, you'll probably want to skip this feature.

What Is AGP?

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AGP stands for Accelerated Graphics Port. An AGP slot on a PC's motherboard is used for connecting a graphics card to the PC. AGP was introduced in 1997 as a replacement for the slower PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) bus.

Rather than sharing the bandwidth of the PCI bus with other devices, AGP provides a dedicated bus for the video card. AGP had double the bandwidth compared to PCI and could read textures directly from system memory, unlike PCI, which had to copy the textures.

AGP had a throughput of up to 2133 MB/s, compared to PCI's 533 MB/s maximum.

Starting in 2004, PCI-Express began replacing AGP and PCI.

What Is PCI-Express?

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PCI-Express (PCIe) is an electrical bus used in nearly all modern consumer and server PCs. PCIe slots on desktop PCs allow for connecting various expansion boards, including graphics cards, sound cards, video capture cards, network/Wi-Fi cards, storage devices, and more. PCI-Express is the successor of PCI.

PCIe 5.0 is the latest version of PCI-Express on the market.

PCIe 5.0 x16 can reach speeds of 63 GB/s.

Four PCIe Slots + One PCI Slot on a Motherboard Snickerdo / Wikimedia

How Fast Is PCIe?

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PCI-Express speeds are based on the PCI-Express version and the number of lanes used. One line is referred to as x1, two lanes as x2, etc. PCI-Express technically supports up to a width of x32. However, most consumer motherboards have some set of these PCIe widths: x1, x2, x4, x8, x16.

PCI-Express Speeds (Rounded)
PCIe 4.0PCIe 5.0
x1 Bandwidth 2 GB/s 4 GB/s
x2 Bandwidth 4 GB/s 8 GB/s
x4 Bandwidth 8 GB/s 16 GB/s
x8 Bandwidth 16 GB/s 32 GB/s
x16 Bandwidth 32 GB/s 63 GB/s

Intel's 12th generation CPUs currently provide PCIe 5.0 support for CPU lanes (i.e., one x16 or two x8 PCIe slots) and PCIe 4.0/3.0 speeds for the remaining lanes.

The bandwidth for each PCIe 5.0 lane is 4 GB/s. 4 GB/s per lane means that if you use a PCI-Express 5.0 x16 device, it would have up to 64 GB/s of bandwidth available to it.

NVMe M.2 SSD cards use 2 or 4 lanes, which means they have 4–8 GB/s available to them with PCIe 4.0.

Samsung 980 1TB M.2 SSD Samsung 980 1TB M.2 SSD Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

NVMe PCIe add-in cards can use up to 16 lanes in an x16 slot, thus having up to 32 GB/s of bandwidth available to them with PCIe 4.0.

In comparison, PCIe 3.0 has half of the bandwidth of PCIe 4.0.

PCI-Express 3.0 Speed (Rounded)
x1 Bandwidth 1 GB/s
x2 Bandwidth 2 GB/s
x4 Bandwidth 4 GB/s
x8 Bandwidth 8 GB/s
x16 Bandwidth 16 GB/s

Which CPUs Support PCIe 5.0?

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PCIe 5.0

Intel's 12th generation Core processors, code-named "Alder Lake," support PCIe 5.0. Intel 12th Gen Core CPUs use an LGA 1700 socket.

AMD has not yet released its PCIe 5.0 processors but is expected to include PCIe 5.0 support in their next-generation Zen 4 architecture, which AMD will release in 2022.

Check out my Recommended PCIe 5.0 CPUs and Motherboards below.

Check out the complete list of CPUs supporting PCIe 5.0 in Which Intel and AMD CPUs Support PCIe 5.0?

Which Motherboards Support PCIe 5.0?

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For 12th Gen Intel CPUs, PCIe 5.0 support means either one x16 or two x8 PCIe slots can run at PCIe 5.0 speeds for graphics or storage purposes. The CPUs provide four additional PCIe 4.0 lanes (e.g., an x4 slot) that you can only use for storage devices.

For compatibility with Intel's 12th Gen Core CPUs, you'll need to use a motherboard with a Z690, H670, B660, or H610 chipset. Motherboards with the Z690 chipset were the first ones available, while motherboards with the other chipsets are starting to be released in early 2022.

Intel 600 Series Desktop Chipsets
Z690H670B660H610
Release Date Q4 2021 Q1 2022 Q1 2022 Q1 2022
CPU Overclocking Yes No No No
PCIe 5.0 Slots via Processor One x16 or Two x8 One x16 or Two x8 One x16 One x16
PCIe 4.0 Slots via Processor One x4 One x4 One x4 None
PCIe 4.0 Lanes via Chipset Up to 12 Up to 12 Up to 6 None
PCIe 3.0 Lanes via Chipset Up to 16 Up to 12 Up to 8 8
Memory Overclocking Yes Yes Yes Yes
Memory Channels 2 2 2 1
DMI 4.0 Lanes 8 8 4 4
USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 (20 Gbps) Up to 4 Up to 2 Up to 2 None
USB 3.2 Gen 2x1 (10 Gbps) Up to 10 Up to 4 Up to 4 Up to 2
USB 3.2 Gen 1x1 (5 Gbps) Up to 10 Up to 8 Up to 6 Up to 4
USB 2.0 Ports 14 14 12 10
Wi-Fi 6E Yes Yes Yes Yes
SATA 3.0 Ports Up to 8 Up to 8 Up to 4 4
PCIe RAID 0,1,5 Support Yes Yes No No

Note that the chipsets don't provide PCIe 5.0 lanes for M.2 storage devices. PCIe 5.0 is only available for the PCI-Express slots connected directly to the CPU. However, the chipsets do use a new DMI 4.0 link which is twice as fast as the 3.0 link used by the 500-series chipsets.

GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS Master GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS Master Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link
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Best Intel High-Performance Enthusiast CPU: Intel Core i9-12900K

  • Up to 5.2 GHz: perfect for games, video editing, and high-intensity tasks.

  • 16 cores (8 Performance + 8 Efficiency): Quite a few cores considering the frequency! This combination makes it a great all-around system that can handle almost any task.

  • Virtualization features make it great for running virtual machines.

  • Check the latest price of the Intel Core i9-12900K on Amazon (affiliate link).

    Intel Core i9-12900K Processor 16 Cores (8P+8E) up to 5.2 GHz Intel Core i9-12900K Processor 16 Cores (8P+8E) up to 5.2 GHz Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link
  • For the Intel Core i9-12900K CPU, you'll need a motherboard with the Z690 chipset to support CPU overclocking. Otherwise, you can use a motherboard with Intel's other 600 series desktop chipsets (e.g., H670, B660, H610).

  • Our recommended DDR4 motherboard to pair with the i9-12900K is Gigabyte's Z690 AORUS Elite AX DDR4: GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS Elite AX DDR4 GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS Elite AX DDR4 Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

    • PCIe 5.0 support
    • It supports up to 128GB of DDR4 memory!
    • 2.5 Gb Ethernet port is faster than most home Internet speeds with room to spare for file transfers.
    • Wi-Fi 6
    • Bluetooth 5.2 is great for streaming music to Bluetooth headphones.
    • Four x4 NVMe M.2 slots, which is fantastic! All four of these run at PCIe 4.0 speeds.
    • USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 offers 20 Gbps USB speeds!
    • Check the latest price of the GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS Elite AX DDR4 on Amazon (affiliate link).
  • Our recommended DDR5 motherboard to pair with the i9-12900K is Gigabyte's Z690 AORUS Master: GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS Master GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS Master Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

    • PCIe 5.0 support
    • It supports up to 128GB of DDR5 memory (DDR5 provides the fastest memory speeds)!

      DDR5 memory appears to be out of stock at most retailers, so I recommend sticking with a DDR4 motherboard or preparing for a long wait.

    • 10 Gbps Ethernet port is faster than any home Internet speed available with tons of room to spare for file transfers.
    • Wi-Fi 6E makes it easy to reach the fastest speeds and future-proof your Wi-Fi system.
    • Bluetooth 5.2 is great for streaming music to Bluetooth headphones.
    • Four x4 NVMe M.2 slots, which is fantastic! Three of these run at PCIe 4.0 speeds, and one at PCIe 3.0 speeds.
    • USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 offers 20 Gbps USB speeds!
    • Check the latest price of the GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS Master on Amazon (affiliate link).

Best Value CPU: Intel Core i5-12600K

  • Less than half the price of the i9-12900K, but still excellent performance at up to 4.9 GHz.

  • 10 cores (6 Performance + 4 Efficiency): This core count makes it suitable for everyday multi-threading tasks, such as having tons of browser windows open.

  • Virtualization features make it great for running virtual machines.

  • Check the latest price of the Intel Core i5-12600K on Amazon (affiliate link).

    Intel Core i5-12600K Intel Core i5-12600K Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link
  • For the Intel Core i5-12600K CPU, you'll need a motherboard with the Z690 chipset to support CPU overclocking. Otherwise, you can use a motherboard with Intel's other 600 series desktop chipsets (e.g., H670, B660, H610).

  • Our recommended DDR4 motherboard to pair with the i5-12600K is GIGABYTE's Z690 Gaming X DDR4 motherboard: GIGABYTE Z690 Gaming X DDR4 GIGABYTE Z690 Gaming X DDR4 Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

    • PCIe 5.0 support
    • It supports up to 128GB of DDR4 memory!
    • Four x4 NVMe M.2 slots, which is fantastic! All four of these run at PCIe 4.0 speeds.
    • 2.5 Gb Ethernet port is faster than most home Internet speeds with room to spare for file transfers.
    • USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 offers 20 Gbps USB speeds!
    • Check the latest price of the GIGABYTE Z690 Gaming X DDR4 on Amazon (affiliate link).
  • Our recommended DDR5 motherboard to pair with the i5-12600K is GIGABYTE's Z690 AORUS PRO motherboard: GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS PRO GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS PRO Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

    • PCIe 5.0 support
    • It supports up to 128GB of DDR5 memory!

      DDR5 memory appears to be out of stock at most retailers, so I recommend sticking with a DDR4 motherboard or preparing for a long wait.

    • Three NVMe M.2 slots, which is excellent! These all run at PCIe 4.0 speeds.
    • 2.5 Gb Ethernet port is faster than most home Internet speeds with room to spare for file transfers.
    • USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 offers 20 Gbps USB speeds!
    • Check the latest price of the GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS PRO on Amazon (affiliate link).
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Due to the limited availability of DDR5, I'm only recommending a specific DDR4 product at this time.

However, you can check the current availability of DDR5 on Amazon (affiliate link).

  • It comes in a variety of frequencies, including 3000 MHz, 3200 MHz, 3600 MHz, 4000 MHz, and 4400 MHz
  • Reasonable CL16 timings (CAS Latency)
  • The low-profile form factor ensures that the heat spreaders don't get in the way of other devices, including your CPU heatsink
  • Crucial is a reputable brand, and I have used their memory in my machines
  • The customizable LEDs zones are a pretty cool bonus Crucial Ballistix RGB DDR4 Crucial Ballistix RGB DDR4 Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

Other Considerations When Building a PC

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Want to brush up on other new technologies to consider when building a computer? Check out these articles:

Learn More About PCI-Express

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Want to brush up on the latest PCIe products, versions, and features? Check out the articles in this PCI-Express series: