Home Hardware What Is PCIe 4.0 And Is it worth it?

What Is PCIe 4.0 And Is it worth it?

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What Is PCIe 4.0? It seems as though older technologies are being replaced by newer ones daily at this point. The natural assumption is that these new technologies have improved features and offer better performance, but this isn’t always the case.

Surely the on-paper specifications agree with this, but in reality, it sometimes takes years for newer technologies to hit their stride indeed.

Their price, however, is likely much higher from day one. We’ve seen this with the RTX graphics cards, which offered real-time ray tracing that couldn’t be used in virtually any game at first. Even now, almost two years after the release of the RTX 2080 TI, fewer than 30 games support this technology.

Today we want to direct your attention towards a similar technology PCI Express 4.0. PCI Express 4 is set to supplant the good old PCI Express 3.0 but let’s take a look at what this latest iteration of the PCI Express is all about and whether or not it’s worth it for gamers? Shall we,

What is PCIe?

First things first, let’s see what PCIe even means. The acronym stands for Peripheral Component Interconnect and Expressed.

Features

It’s a ubiquitous expansion bus that many expansion cards like GPUS, SSDS, Wi-Fi adapters, modems capture card, sound cards, and so on used to interface with the motherboard.

Additional versions

PCI Express 1.0 was released back in 2003, and over the years for additional versions have been introduced. It isn’t a mistake by the way we do mean four additional versions.

PCI Express 5.0 was introduced in 2019, and by the looks of things, PCI Express 6.0 is likely to be launched in 2021.

Regardless for most intents and purposes, PCI Express 4.0 is the latest version of the PCI Express as it is the latest one to hit the market. Only AMD offers PCIe 4.0 compatible chipsets. So, don’t hold your breath for PCIe 5.0 motherboards it’ll be years before we get them.

Number of lanes

PCIe slots can also be described according to the number of lanes they feature. The most common variants are PCIe by 1 PCIe by 4 PCIe by 8 and PCIe by 16, which feature 1, 4, 8, and 16 lanes, respectively.

Higher lane counts offer faster data transfer rates and greater overall bandwidth, which is why different expansion cards require varying numbers of lanes. For example, graphics cards require a slot with 16 lanes, whereas most sound cards only need one Lane. The thing about the lanes applies to all iterations of PCI Express.

PCIe 3.0 VS PCIe 4.0

So, what exactly is the difference between PCIe 3.0 and PCIe 4.0? The answer is pretty simple, Speed or to be more precise, transfer rates, and bandwidth. Each generation of PCIe so far has offered double the transfer rate and bandwidth compared to the previous, and this one is no exception.

  • PCIe 3.0 supports a transfer rate of up to 8 gigabytes per second and an overall bandwidth of 32 gigabytes per second.
  • PCIe 4.0 ups the transfer rate to 16 gigabytes per second and the bandwidth to 64 gigabytes per second. Apart from the increased speeds, there are no new features exclusive to PCIe 4.0. That is the only difference.

So now that we know how the two interfaces stack up on paper, let’s see them in action.

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Is PCIe 4.0 worth it?

Will PCIe 4.0 offer double the in-game performance? The answer is a disappointing yet resounding no, and we mean this by the way. We aren’t even sure if we can call the performance boost gained from slotting a graphics card into a PCI Express 4.0 enabled motherboards marginal.

We’re talking a difference of one or two frames per second and best. In most cases, though, the frame rate difference is zero. So, what does this tell us? Simply put, it tells us that modern graphics cards simply have no use for this kind of bandwidth the PCI Express 4.0 offers.

Difference

It’s just too much, and the same goes for storage again. PCI Express 4.0 does improve the load in-game slightly when using SSDS, but we cannot overstate just how slight a difference this is.

It’s not something you’d notice on your own the only reason we know that there’s a difference at all is that benchmarks told us so, and this extends to everyday computer use as well.

It’s not as a PCI Express 4.0 is only not worth it for gamers. It’s when we introduce high-performance NVMe SSDS into the equation that PCIe 4.0 starts to make a noticeable difference.

Here the extra bandwidth allows the SSD to read and write larger volumes of data in less time, but this isn’t something games should concern with themselves. It only becomes relevant when you’re building a workstation.

Conclusion

So, when all is said and done is PCIe 4.0 worth it at the moment. Unless you’re looking to build the most powerful workstation around, the answer is no.

According to Cost

For gamers, especially ones looking to cut down costs, PCIe 4.0 motherboards are an easy pass.

According to Extra speed

Sure, the extra speed sounds nice, but it only doesn’t offer any in-game benefits and add to that the fact that extra speed is the only difference between the two iterations of PCIe and you don’t have anything to worry about it. PCIe technologies are both backward and forward compatible.

So, it’s not like you’d be backing yourself into a non-future-proof corner by option for PCIe 3.0 motherboard at this point.

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