How Fast Is PCIe 4.0?

Discover how fast PCI-Express is and compare it to other versions.

PCI-Express Kevin Jones / TechReviewer

Last Updated: September 10, 2021

Written by Kevin Jones

How Fast Is PCI-Express 4.0?

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PCI-Express (TR) 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.

The bandwidth for each PCIe 4.0 lane is 2 GB/s. 2 GB/s per lane means that if you use a PCI-Express 4.0 x16 device, it would have up to 32 GB/s of bandwidth available to it.

NVMe M.2 SSD cards (TR) 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 (affiliate link)

NVMe PCIe add-in cards (TR) 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.

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

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

Don't forget to check out my Recommended PCIe 4.0 CPUs and Motherboards (TR) below.

How Fast Are Other Versions of PCI-Express?

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Each generation of PCI-Express roughly doubles the speed. The bandwidth for each PCIe 4.0 lane is 2 GB/s. 2 GB/s per lane means that if you use a PCI-Express 4.0 x16 device, it would have up to 32 GB/s of bandwidth available to it, compared to 16 GB/s for PCIe 3.0.

PCI-Express Speeds (Rounded)
x1 Bandwidthx2 Bandwidthx4 Bandwidthx8 Bandwidthx16 Bandwidth
PCIe 1.0 250 MB/s 500 MB/s 750 MB/s 2 GB/s 4 GB/s
PCIe 2.0 500 MB/s 1000 MB/s 2 GB/s 4 GB/s 8 GB/s
PCIe 3.0 1 GB/s 2 GB/s 4 GB/s 8 GB/s 16 GB/s
PCIe 4.0 2 GB/s 4 GB/s 8 GB/s 16 GB/s 32 GB/s
PCIe 5.0 4 GB/s 8 GB/s 16 GB/s 32 GB/s 63 GB/s
PCIe 6.0 8 GB/s 16 GB/s 32 GB/s 63 GB/s 126 GB/s

How Fast Are M.2 NVMe Drives With PCIe 4.0?

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NVMe M.2 cards come in B, M, and B+M keyings, which provide either 2 or 4 lanes. With PCIe 4.0, an M.2 card can use between 4–8 GB/s of throughput, depending on the keying.

  • NVMe M.2 ports with a B keying indicate that the system will provide 2 lanes of PCI-Express bandwidth.
  • NVMe M.2 ports with an M keying indicate that the system will provide 4 lanes of PCI-Express bandwidth.
  • NVMe M.2 ports with a B+M keying maximize compatibility but only provide 2 lines of PCI-Express bandwidth.

NVMe M.2 cards use the PCIe connection to provide a high throughput rate, with a max speed of 8 GB/s for PCIe 4.0.

Each version of PCI-Express roughly doubles the supported bandwidth. For example, a PCI-Express 4.0 NVMe M.2 Card using x2 lanes may support up to twice the speed of a PCI-Express 3.0 card using the same number of lanes (same keying).

PCI-Express NVMe M.2 Speed (Rounded)
x2 Bandwidthx4 Bandwidth
PCIe 1.0 500 MB/s 750 MB/s
PCIe 2.0 1000 MB/s 2 GB/s
PCIe 3.0 2 GB/s 4 GB/s
PCIe 4.0 4 GB/s 8 GB/s
PCIe 5.0 8 GB/s 16 GB/s
PCIe 6.0 16 GB/s 32 GB/s

Learn more about storage devices in Storage Type Comparison: M.2, U.2, NVMe, SATA, SSDs, HDDs (TR).

How Fast Are NVMe Add-in Cards (AICs) With PCIe 4.0?

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NVMe add-in cards (AICs) are SSD storage devices that insert directly into PCI-Express expansion slots.

While SSDs in the M.2 form factor are limited to 4 PCIe lanes, add-in cards do not have this limitation. AICs can use up to 16 PCIe lanes, resulting in an upper bandwidth limit of 32 GB/s for PCIe 4.0.

PCIe Add-in Card Speed (Rounded)
x2 Bandwidthx4 Bandwidthx8 Bandwidthx16 Bandwidth
PCIe 1.0 500 MB/s 750 MB/s 2 GB/s 4 GB/s
PCIe 2.0 1000 MB/s 2 GB/s 4 GB/s 8 GB/s
PCIe 3.0 2 GB/s 4 GB/s 8 GB/s 16 GB/s
PCIe 4.0 4 GB/s 8 GB/s 16 GB/s 32 GB/s
PCIe 5.0 8 GB/s 16 GB/s 32 GB/s 63 GB/s
PCIe 6.0 16 GB/s 32 GB/s 63 GB/s 126 GB/s

Learn more about storage devices in Storage Type Comparison: M.2, U.2, NVMe, SATA, SSDs, HDDs (TR).

PCIe 4.0 Benefits

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Bandwidth

The key benefit of upgrading to PCI-Express 4.0 is the increased bandwidth. Each version of PCIe roughly doubles the bandwidth available per lane (TR).

PCI-Express 4.0 vs. 3.0 Speeds (Rounded)
PCIe 3.0PCIe 4.0
x1 Bandwidth 1 GB/s 2 GB/s
x2 Bandwidth 2 GB/s 4 GB/s
x4 Bandwidth 4 GB/s 8 GB/s
x8 Bandwidth 8 GB/s 16 GB/s
x16 Bandwidth 16 GB/s 32 GB/s

Any devices which were designed for PCIe 4.0 can benefit from the increase in available bandwidth.

Devices designed for PCIe 4.0 could mean faster storage speeds (video and game loading) and faster graphics (video games and rendering).

However, some devices may not even be reaching the limits of PCIe 3.0 yet. The low bandwidth usage by some devices means that it's only necessary to upgrade if:

  • You are using the latest and fastest storage devices and video cards.
  • You want to free up PCIe lanes by using PCIe 4.0 devices.
  • You want to future-proof your system.

Storage

The component which can benefit the most from PCIe 4.0 is NVMe storage. The latest top-performing NVMe SDD and add-in card (AIC) storage devices can benefit from both the higher throughput and the throughput available per lane.

Lanes

With each PCIe version doubling the bandwidth per lane, newer devices can reduce the number of needed lanes. For example, if even the top tier of graphics cards no longer need the full 16 lanes to meet their needs, they can use 8 or fewer lanes. By using fewer lanes, it frees up more lanes for other devices. Using fewer lanes is important because CPUs provide a limited number of lanes, which need to be distributed among the devices.

The same is valid for storage. If your storage devices no longer need as many lanes, PCIe add-in card (AIC) adapters can connect more NVMe M.2 SSDs.

For networking, a single lane could now provide enough bandwidth for 10 Gbps Ethernet.

Future-Proofing

If you are building a new system, it may make sense to do the upgrade to 4.0. In particular, future graphics cards and storage devices may further take advantage of this available bandwidth. In this case, you might consider how long you plan to use this computer. For example, will you upgrade your storage and graphics card over the next few years or wait to replace the entire system?

Which PCIe 4.0 CPUs Are Available for PCs?

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Most of AMD's Ryzen 3000 and 5000 series, Ryzen Threadripper 3000 series, and Ryzen Threadripper Pro 3000 series processors support PCIe 4.0. Intel's 11th generation processors, code-named "Rocket Lake," support PCIe 4.0.

AMD Ryzen 9 5900X AMD Ryzen 9 5900X Check Price on Amazon (affiliate link)

Feel free to jump down to the Recommended PCIe 4.0 CPUs and Motherboards (TR) section below.

Check out the complete list of CPUs supporting PCIe 4.0 in Which Intel and AMD CPUs Support PCIe 4.0? (TR)

Which Motherboards Support PCIe 4.0?

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To get full PCIe 4.0 support, you'll need to use a motherboard with the latest chipsets.

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Best AMD High-Frequency CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 5900X

  • Up to 4.8 GHz: perfect for games, video editing, and high-intensity tasks.

  • 12 cores / 24 threads: High core count for the frequency! This combination makes it a great all-around system that can handle almost any job.

  • Check the latest price of the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X on Amazon (affiliate link).

    AMD Ryzen 9 5900X AMD Ryzen 9 5900X Check Price on Amazon (affiliate link)
  • For the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X CPU, you'll need a 5000 series motherboard with the X570 chipset to support PCIe 4.0.

  • Our recommended motherboard to pair with the Ryzen 9 5900X is MSI's MAG X570 TOMAHAWK WIFI Motherboard: MSI MAG X570 TOMAHAWK WIFI MSI MAG X570 TOMAHAWK WIFI Check Price on Amazon (affiliate link)

    • PCIe 4.0 support
    • One 2.5 Gb Ethernet port is faster than most Internet speeds, with room to spare for file transfers.
    • Two NVMe M.2 (TR) slots both run at PCIe 4.0 speeds.
    • Wi-Fi 6 provides great Wi-Fi speeds (not Wi-Fi 6E, but still really good).
    • USB 3.2 Gen 2 offers 10 Gbps USB speeds.
    • Check the latest price of the MSI MAG X570 TOMAHAWK WIFI Motherboard on Amazon (affiliate link).

Best Intel High-Frequency CPU: Intel Core i9-11900K

  • Up to 5.3 GHz: perfect for games, video editing, and high-intensity tasks.

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

  • You'll want to use a good cooler, as the "Thermal Velocity Boost Frequency" feature will improve your clock speed based on how cool you can keep it.

  • Virtualization features make it great for running virtual machines.

  • Check the latest price of the Intel Core i9-11900K on Amazon (affiliate link).

    Intel Core i9-11900K Intel Core i9-11900K Check Price on Amazon (affiliate link)
  • For the Intel Core i9-11900K CPU, you'll need a motherboard with the Z590 chipset to support PCIe 4.0.

  • Our recommended motherboard to pair with the i9-11900K is ASUS's ROG Maximus XIII Hero: ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero Check Price on Amazon (affiliate link)

    • PCIe 4.0 support
    • Wi-Fi 6E makes it easy to reach the fastest speeds and future-proof your Wi-Fi system.
    • Four NVMe M.2 (TR) slots, which is a lot! (Only two of them run at PCIe 4.0 speeds)
    • Two 2.5 Gb Ethernet ports are faster than most 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 ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero on Amazon (affiliate link).

Best High-Core CPU: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X

  • 64 cores / 128 threads: Insane number of cores/threads.

  • This CPU is going to be best for high-intensity multi-threading such as:

    • 3D graphics rendering (e.g., Blender/3DS Max/Maya)
    • CAD design, simulation, and visualization (e.g., AutoDesk Inventor)
    • Software that does a lot of physics analysis
  • Due to the high price, this CPU is best for business use-cases.

  • Check the latest price of the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X on Amazon (affiliate link).

  • AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X (affiliate link) is a backup option if this one isn't in stock and for lower budgets.

    AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X Check Price on Amazon (affiliate link)
  • For the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X CPU, you'll need a motherboard with the TRX40 chipset to support PCIe 4.0.

  • Our recommended motherboard to pair with the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X is ASUS's ROG Zenith II Extreme Alpha: ASUS ROG Zenith II Extreme Alpha ASUS ROG Zenith II Extreme Alpha Check Price on Amazon (affiliate link)

    • PCIe 4.0 support
    • Five NVMe M.2 (TR) slots all run at PCIe 4.0 seeds, which is insane!
    • One 10 Gb Ethernet port would allow you to transfer a 1 GB video file in under a second!
    • 1 USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 offers 20 Gbps USBs speeds; 9 USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports provide 10 Gbps; 8 USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports provide 5 Gbps; 3 USB 2.0 ports
    • Wi-Fi 6 provides great Wi-Fi speed (not Wi-Fi 6E, but still really good).
    • Bluetooth 5.0 (TR) is great for streaming music to Bluetooth headphones.
    • Check the latest price of the ASUS ROG Zenith II Extreme Alpha on Amazon (affiliate link).

Best Value CPU: Intel Core i5-11600K

  • Half the price of the i9-11900K, but still excellent performance at up to 4.9 GHz.

  • 6 cores / 12 threads: There are a decent number of threads to make it good at everyday multi-threading tasks, such as having tons of browser windows open.

  • Check the latest price of the Intel Core i5-11600K on Amazon (affiliate link).

  • Intel Core i5-11600KF (affiliate link) is a backup option if this one isn't in stock. It is the same other than the lack of integrated graphics support.

    Intel Core i5-11600K Intel Core i5-11600K Check Price on Amazon (affiliate link)
  • For the Intel Core i5-11600K CPU, you'll need a motherboard with the Z590 chipset to support PCIe 4.0.

  • Our recommended motherboard to pair with the i5-11600K is MSI's Z590 PRO WiFi ProSeries motherboard: MSI Z590 PRO WiFi ProSeries MSI Z590 PRO WiFi ProSeries Check Price on Amazon (affiliate link)

    • PCIe 4.0 support
    • Wi-Fi 6E makes it easy to reach the fastest speeds and future-proof your Wi-Fi system.
    • Bluetooth 5.2 (TR) is great for streaming music to Bluetooth headphones.
    • Three NVMe M.2 (TR) slots, which is pretty good! (Only one of them runs at PCIe 4.0 speeds)
    • Two 2.5 Gb Ethernet ports are faster than most 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 MSI Z590 PRO WiFi ProSeries on Amazon (affiliate link).

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: