GuidesComparisonsPCIe 3.0 Vs PCIe 4.0: A Gaming Performance Comparison

PCIe 3.0 Vs PCIe 4.0: A Gaming Performance Comparison

We compare the two and test their performance in games including GTA V, Battlefield V, The Witcher 3, and more.

Expert Verified By

PCIe 3.0

Rated: 8/10

PCIe 4.0

Rated: 9/10

Pros And Cons

PCIe 3.0✅Almost equivalent gaming performance
✅Good enough for most tasks
❌Slower data transfer speeds
PCIe 4.0✅Better performance
✅Better data transfer speeds
❌Not utilized fully in consumer GPUs

Key Takeaways
  • To begin with, it is worth mentioning that x570 motherboards are the only ones that support PCIe 4.0, whereas the older variants only come with PCIe 3.0 compatibility.
  • AMD claims that the PCIe 4.0 interface offers twice the bandwidth of PCIe 3.0, resulting in a significant increase from 32GB/s to 64GB/s.
  • The gaming performance of both technologies was roughly equivalent.
  • Because of support, we would recommend buying into PCIe 4.0, but going with the older interface would not be the end of the world.

As PCIe 5.0 gains prominence, questions have arisen about its gaming benefits. Although consumer market GPUs with PCIe 5.0 are not yet available, our comparison of PCIe 4.0 vs PCIe 5.0 aims to uncover the performance disparity this connector offers.

Comparison Table

ParametersPCIe Gen 3PCIe Gen 4
Release Year20102017
ProtocolPCIe 3.0PCIe 4.0
Bandwidth per lane8 GT/s16 GT/s
Max bandwidth for x1 slot1 GB/s2 GB/s
Max bandwidth for x4 slot4 GB/s8 GB/s
Max bandwidth for x8 slot8 GB/s16 GB/s
Max bandwidth for x16 slot16 GB/s32 GB/s
Data transfer encoding128b/130b128b/130b
Backward compatibilityCompatible with PCIe Gen 1 and Gen 2 devicesBackward compatible with PCIe Gen 3 devices

Architectural Differences

  1. Transfer Rate: The transfer rate has doubled from 8 GT/s on PCIe 3.0 to 16 GT/s on PCIe 4.0, signifying a significant leap in data transfer speed and performance across computing applications.
  2. Bandwidth: The PCIe 4.0 connector boasts a maximum transfer rate of 64 GB/s, marking a substantial improvement over the 32 GB/s capability of PCIe 3.0, thereby doubling the bandwidth available for data transmission.
  3. Backward Compatibility: A lovely feature of these connectors is backward compatibility, which stands as an advantage for PCIe 4.0, as you can use 3.0 cards with it but not vice versa.

PCIe 3.0 Vs PCIe 4.0: Gaming Performance Test – 1080p

To test the extent of improvements going from PCIe 3.0 to 4.0, we have devised a test bench balanced for our purposes today, the specs of which are listed below:

Testing Rig

Note: The PCIe 3.0 and 4.0 switching was done in software using the PCIe config settings in our Aorous motherboard. This applies to both the storage and the graphics card.

Assassin’s Creed: Origins [Game Engine: AnvilNext 2.0]

AC Origins
Assassin’s Creed Origins. Image Credits (Tech4Gamers)
  • At 1080p, we only saw a frame of difference between the two setups, with PCIe 4.0 getting 69 FPS on average and PCIe 3.0 getting around 68 FPS on average.

Battlefield V [DX12] [Game Engine: Frostbite 3]

Battlefield V. Image Credits (Tech4Gamers)
  • The difference in this game was only a tenth of a frame higher on average for PCIe 4.0, plateauing both cards around 132 FPS in this title.

DOOM [Game Engine: ID Tech 6]

pcie 3 vs 4
DOOM. Image Credits (Tech4Gamers)
  • Similar to the last game, PCIe 4.0 only produced results a third of a frame higher than its older counterpart, effectively putting both setups at an average performance of 200 FPS.

Grand Theft Auto V [Game Engine: RAGE]

gen 3 vs gen 4
GTA V. Image Credits (Tech4Gamers)
  • The PCIe 4.0 system took a tiny victory in this game, averaging 115 FPS instead of the 114 FPS of the PCIe 3.0 setup.

Metro Exodus [DX12] [Game Engine: 4A Engine]

pcie gen3 x 4
Metro Exodus. Image Credits (Tech4Gamers)
  • Stagnation returned in this game, with both setups hovering around the 76 FPS mark for their average framerate in the game.

Middle Earth: Shadow Of War [Game Engine: LithTech Firebird]

pcie 4 vs 3
Middle Earth. Image Credits (Tech4Gamers)
  • Bringing some spice to a stalemate of comparison, the PCIe 4.0 setup had an average framerate of 111 FPS in this game, two frames higher than the 109 FPS average of the PCIe 3.0 setup.

Shadow Of The Tomb Raider [DX12] [Game Engine: Foundation]

Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Image Credits (Tech4Gamers)
  • The difference returned to nothing in this game, with both systems securing a framerate of 119 FPS.

Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt [Game Engine: REDengine 3]

pcie gen 4
Witcher 3. Image Credits (Tech4Gamers)
  • Finally, this game also showed only a tenth of a frame of difference between the two setups, capping out our comparison with both configs getting a framerate of 117 FPS.

Overall Performance

FeaturedPCIe Gen 3PCIe Gen 4
Average FPS117.375 📈116.875 📈
Winner: PCIe Gen 4

As seen in the game-to-game performance, the difference between these two technologies was really small, at least with the card we tested. We cannot promise this will remain the case for every GPU release, but the bandwidth of the PCIe 3.0 interface has proved sufficient for most graphics cards.

Our Verdict

PCIe 4.0: Though this technology performed only marginally better than its predecessor, there is a case to be made for keeping your system up to date. It’s better to buy components supporting this standard because of its relative safety of support compared to the older interface.

PCIe 3.0: This interface holds up to this day with its transfer speeds and bandwidth, though there are advantages to be had with newer technologies. Still, if you need to buy supporting components of this technology, fret not, as they should be adequate for most tasks.

In conclusion, the comparison between PCIe 4.0 vs PCIe 3.0 is clear cut: buy the newer one if you can, but don’t worry if you need to get the older one.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much data speed is linked to one lane of PCIe 3.0?

PCIe 3.0 supports 1GB/s speed per lane.

How much speed is linked to one lane of PCIe 4.0?

PCIe 4.0 supports 2GB/s speed per lane.

What processors support PCIe 4.0?

Anything higher than the Ryzen 3000 series and the Intel 11th gen supports PCIe 4.0.

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