Gen 4 vs Gen 3 SSD (PCIe 4.0 vs PCIe 3.0): In Simple Way


If you’re looking to upgrade your computer with a new solid state drive, you may be wondering whether you should get a PCIe Gen 4 or PCIe Gen 3 SSD. Both types of drives offer significant improvements in performance over traditional hard drives, but they have different specifications that may make one type better for your needs than the other. In this article, I will compare PCIe Gen 4 and PCIe Gen 3 SSDs and help you decide which is right for you.

If you do not want to read this whole article here is a summary. A PCIe 3.0 slot has an 8 GT/s transfer rate per lane while a PCIe 4.0 slot has a 16 GT/s transfer rate per lane. This means that a PCIe 4.0 slot is able to transfer twice as much data in the same amount of time when compared to a PCIe 3.0 slot. So if you are using an SSD, The PCIe gen 4 was able to reach a bandwidth of 23.25GB/s. This is much faster than the PCIe gen 3, which only had a bandwidth of 14.31GB/s. So always go for PCIe Gen 4. Recommended GEN 4 SSDs are (Links will take you to Amazon)

Before we get into PCIe SSDs, you should have a basic understanding of what PCIe is and how it works.

What is PCIe (PCI Express)?

PCIe is an acronym for Peripheral Component Interconnect Express. It is a high-speed serial computer expansion bus standard. PCIe is the successor technology to PCI, which was used for connecting peripheral devices to a computer.

Compared to PCI, which uses a parallel bus architecture, PCIe uses a point-to-point serial link that allows each device to have its own dedicated connection to the CPU.

This provides several advantages over the older PCI standard, including

  • Lower latency
  • Higher data transfer rates
  • Improved power efficiency
  • Allow supporting multiple protocols such as SATA and Ethernet.

Latency, in computers, refers to the time it takes for a packet of data to travel from its source to its destination. For example, if you trying to load a website, the latency is the time it takes for the browser to receive the data from the server.

Lower latency means that the data will reach its destination faster, and this is desirable for many applications. For example, real-time applications like video conferencing or gaming require low latency to be effective.

There are a number of ways to reduce latency, including using faster network connections and caching data closer to the user. In some cases, reducing latency can be a matter of changing how data is routed through the network. By understanding the factors that contribute to latency, it is possible to design networks that provide a better user experience.

So the above improvements make it more versatile than its predecessor. As a result, PCIe has become the standard for connecting peripheral devices to computers and can be found in everything from laptops to servers.

What Is the Difference Between a Normal SSD and PCI-E SSD?

When it comes to solid-state drives (SSDs), there are two main types:

  • SATA
  • PCI Express (PCI-E)

In the below image you can see a PCIe NVME SSD on your left side and on the table you will a regular SATA SSD.

TeamGroup NVME SSD (On Left) Vs TeamGroup SATA SSD (On Right)

SATA SSDs are the most common type and are typically used in laptops and desktop computers. They connect to the motherboard via a SATA interface and offer a fast, reliable storage solution. PCI-E SSDs are less common but offer a number of advantages over SATA SSDs.

They connect to the motherboard via a PCI-E slot and offer faster data transfer speeds. In addition, they are less likely to be affected by bottlenecks, making them ideal for gaming laptops and high-end desktops.

PCIe provides multiple lanes, which allows for more data to be transferred simultaneously. Lastly, PCIe-based SSDs are less likely to suffer from compatibility issues, as they use a standard expansion slot on your motherboard.

As a result, PCIe-based SSDs offer increased performance and reliability, making them the preferred choice for many users. However, they are also more expensive than SATA SSDs.

Is PCIe NVMe Better Than SATA Based SSD?

Samsung 970 EVO Plus (Check on Amazon)

PCIe NVMe-based SSDs are the newest and fastest type of SSD on the market. They are also much more expensive than SATA-based SSDs. So, is PCIe NVMe really worth the extra cost? In short, yes. PCIe NVMe-based SSDs offer several advantages over SATA-based SSDs.

First, they have a significantly higher data transfer rate. This means that they can read and write data much faster than SATA-based SSDs. The read and write speeds of a SATA SSD are up to 550MB/s and NVME SSDs have a read and write speed of up to 3000MB/s. There are other high-performance SSD options on the market, such as WD Black SN850 NVMe (Check on Amazon) with a read and write speed of 7000MB/s and 5300MB/s, respectively.

Second, PCIe NVMe-based SSDs have lower latency. The average reading latency of an NVMe SSD is 300 microseconds, whereas a SATA SSD usually takes 500 microseconds. Similarly, SATA SSDs take 2 ms to write data, but NVMe SSDs only need 1ms.

This means that there is less delay between when the computer sends a command to the SSD and when the SSD responds. Finally, PCIe NVMe-based SSDs are more energy-efficient than SATA-based SSDs.

This means that they will not drain your battery as quickly as SATA-based SSDs. So, if you need the fastest possible performance from your SSD, or if you are looking for an SSD that is more energy-efficient, then PCIe NVMe is the way to go.

If you are interested more about NVME SSDs you should read below.

What Are the Generations Mean in PCIe?

The PCIe standard currently comes in five different generations:

  • PCIe 1.0,
  • PCIe 2.0,
  • PCIe 3.0,
  • PCIe 4.0
  • PCIe 5.0
  • PCIe 6.0

The most noticeable difference between these generations is the bandwidth, which doubles with each generation. For example, the bandwidth of a PCIe 1.0 lane is 2.5 GT/s, while the bandwidth of a PCIe 5.0 lane is 32 GT/s. Check the below table to get a detailed idea.

GenerationData Transfer RateBandwidth x1Bandwidth x16
PCIe 1.02.5 GT/s250 MB/s4.0 GB/s
PCIe 2.05.0 GT/s500 MB/s8.0 GB/s
PCIe 3.08.0 GT/s1 GB/s16 GB/s
PCIe 4.016 GT/s2 GB/s32 GB/s
PCIe 5.032 GT/s4 GB/s64 GB/s
PCIe 6.064 GT/s8 GB/s128 GB/s

This increase in bandwidth is made possible by advances in technology, such as higher data rates and lower signal attenuation. As a result, each new generation of PCIe offers significant performance benefits over its predecessor. For many applications, such as gaming or video editing, these benefits can be essential for achieving the best possible results.

What Is PCIe Gen 4?

980 PRO Samsung PCI Gen 4
Samsung 980 PRO PCI Gen 4 SSD (Check on Amazon)

The PCIe bus is used in a variety of applications, including gaming, where it provides high-speed data transfer between the CPU and other components. PCIe 4.0, doubles the bandwidth of the previous 3.0 standard, and 5.0 is expected to do the same for 4.0.

This increase in bandwidth is important for next-generation gaming experiences, as it allows for larger and more detailed textures, more realistic lighting effects, and higher frame rates. In addition to the increased bandwidth, PCIe 4.0 also introduces additional CPU lanes, which gives both your GPU and SSD access to more powerful processing power.

As a result, upgrading to a PCIe 4.0 SSD not only prepares your system for future innovations like DirectStorage but also provides a significant performance boost for current games. And because every generation of PCIe is backwards compatible, you can be confident that your investment will continue to pay off for years to come.

DirectStorage is a new piece of software that makes games run faster on NVMe SSDs.. By allowing games to directly access the SSD, DirectStorage can provide a significant boost to performance. In addition, DirectStorage can help to reduce load times and improve game stability.

What Is the Maximum Bandwidth of PCIe Gen 4?

The PCIe bus is a high-speed serial computer expansion bus standard. It is used for connecting computer peripherals and components. PCIe devices use “lanes” for transmitting and receiving data, so the more lanes a PCIe device can use, the greater the bandwidth can be.

The maximum bandwidth of a PCIe device is determined by the number of lanes that it supports and the speed of the lane. The speed of the lane is determined by the version of PCIe that the device supports.

To calculate the maximum bandwidth of a PCIe device, you must know the number of lanes that it supports and the speed of the lane. The number of lanes is typically expressed as a numerical value followed by the letter “x.” For example, a 4-lane device would be expressed as “x4.” The more lanes a device has, the more data it can theoretically handle. For example, an 8-lane device can handle twice as much data as a 4-lane device. 

What Are the Differences Between PCIe 4.0 and PCIe 3.0?

PCIe Gen 3 SSD Transcend-256GB-NVME
PCIe Gen 3 four lanes SSD (Transcend 256GB NVME)

PCIe 3.0 supports a data transfer rate of 1 Gbps per lane, while PCIe 4.0 supports 2 Gbps per lane. Take a look at the below table.

PCIe Generationx1x4x8x16
PCIe 3.01 GB/s4 GB/s8 GB/s16 GB/s
PCIe 4.02 GB/s8 GB/s16 GB/s32 GB/s

This effectively doubles the data transfer rate or bandwidth of PCIe 4.0. The faster the throughput, the better performance you’ll see from devices such as SSDs. Keep in mind that the table is just to give you an idea about different lanes and data transfer rates. Since we are talking about SSDs, NVMe SSDs use up to 4 PCIe lanes only.

While the increased data transfer rate is the most noticeable change between the two generations of PCIe, there are other improvements as well. For example, PCIe 4.0 has improved power efficiency and increased compatibility with a wider range of devices. As a result, it is clear that PCIe 4.0 provides a significant upgrade over its predecessor in terms of both speed and capabilities.

So yes if you have the option to choose between PCIe 4.0 and PCIe 3.0 always choose the PCIe 4.0

Is PCIe 4.0 SSD Backwards Compatible?

Yes. One of the great things about PCIe 4.0 is that it is backwards compatible. This means that if you have an older computer with a PCIe 3.0 slot, you can still use a PCIe 4.0 expansion card. The data transfer rate will be limited by the slower speeds of PCIe 3.0, but you’ll still be able to use the expansion card. Similarly, PCIe 4.0 is also forward compatible.

So, if you upgrade to a new computer with a PCIe 4.0 slot, your old PCIe 3.0 expansion cards will still work. again, the data transfer rate will be limited by the slower speed of PCIe 3.0. However, you’ll be able to continue using your old expansion cards until you’re ready to upgrade to new ones that take advantage of the faster speeds of PCIe 4.0.

What’s the Difference Between PCIe 3.0×4 and PCIe 3.0×2?

I saw some Reddit users ask the above question. So it may be important to you as well.

PCIe cards are available in different sizes, with the most common being x1, x4, and x16. The number denotes the number of data lanes that the card uses. A PCIe 3.0 x4 card has four data lanes and can offer a bandwidth of up to 985 MB/s per lane. A PCIe 3.0 x2 card has two data lanes and can offer a bandwidth of up to 985 MB/s per lane.

As you can see, the main difference between these two types of cards is the amount of bandwidth that they offer. A PCIe 3.0 x4 card offers twice the bandwidth of a PCIe 3.0 x2 card.

Can PCIE 4.0 Fit Into a PCIE 3.0 Port?

Yes. It fits. At first glance, it may seem like PCIE 4.0 would be incompatible with PCIE 3.0. After all, they are two different generations of technology. However, it is actually possible to use a PCIE 4.0 device in a PCIE 3.0 port.

The reason for this is that the two standards share the same basic physical design. As a result, a PCIE 4.0 device can physically fit into a PCIE 3.0 port. However, there are some important limitations to keep in mind. First, a PCIE 4.0 device will only be able to run at the slower PCIE 3.0 speed.

When Will PCIE 4 Become a Bottleneck?

Never. While PCIe 4.0 is the greatest standard when it comes to computer expansion slots, that doesn’t mean that it’s going to become a bottleneck anytime soon. In fact, PCIe 4.0 is backwards compatible with all previous generations of PCIe slots. That means you can use a PCIe 4.0 card in a PCIe 3.0 slot, and vice versa.

Not to mention, PCIe 4.0 doubles the bandwidth of PCIe 3.0, which is great news for anyone using high-performance storage devices like SSDs. Even if you’re not using an SSD, though, the extra bandwidth can come in handy for things like graphics cards or other high-speed devices. So rest assured knowing that your next PCIe 4.0 purchase won’t become obsolete anytime soon.

Do You Really Need PCIE 4.0 M.2 for a Work-Focused Computer?

Sabrent Rocket Q4 NVME SSD
Sabrent 1TB Gen 4 NVME SSD

If you’re looking for the fastest possible drives, then you’ll want to check out PCIe 4.0 SSDs. These drives offer a significant speed boost over their predecessors, and they’re available in a variety of form factors to fit your needs. Whether you’re looking for a high-capacity drive for storing large files or a small and fast drive for booting up your operating system, there’s a PCIe 4.0 SSD that will suit your needs.

And if you’re worried about compatibility, don’t be – most newer motherboards support PCIe 4.0, so you shouldn’t have any trouble installing one of these drives. So if you’re looking for the absolute best performance, go with a PCIe 4.0 SSD. You won’t be disappointed.

How To Check the Number of PCIe Lanes My NVME SSD Is Using?

The hwinfo64 (Click to download) app provides a wealth of information about your computer’s hardware. In the “BUS” section, you can see which PCI Express lanes are in use, as well as the PCI Express version. This can be helpful when troubleshooting driver issues or compatibility problems.

You can also see other information about the bus, such as the voltage and clock speed. The hwinfo64 app is a valuable resource for any PC user.

Screenshot of hwinfo64 app.

Is It Okay To Run PCIE 3.0 M.2 SSD on a PCIE 4.0 M.2 SSD Slot?

Yes, A PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSD will operate at PCIe 4.0 but will work at PCIe 3.0 speeds. This is because PCI-Express versions are backward and forward compatible. Likewise, you can use a PCIe 3.0 storage device in a PCIe 3.0 or PCIe 2.0 system. This will allow you to upgrade your system piece by piece, as new hardware becomes available.

This is good news for anyone with a PCIe NVMe SSD, as they can be confident that their drive will work with any system they upgrade to in the future. The only exception to this rule is if you have an older motherboard with a SATA slot. In this case, you’ll need to get a new motherboard or use an adapter.

What Does PCIE ‘Gen 3×4’ Mean for SSDs?

These terms refer to the generation of the PCIe bus and the number of lanes that are configured on the bus. For example, a PCIe 3.0 x4 expansion card or slot has a four-lane configuration, while a PCIe 4.0 x16 expansion card or slot has a 16-lane configuration. 


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