What Is PCI Express 5.0, and Why Does It Matter for the Newest SSDs? (2024)

Choosing a solid-state drive (SSD) to serve as the boot drive in your new desktop PC has always been one of the highest-impact ways to ensure your computer will run as fast as possible. A fast SSD makes an especially large impact in a gaming PC, which needs to store and access hundreds of gigabytes of game data quickly. Choosing a fast SSD is especially important when you’re building a new gaming PC from scratch or buying a custom one from a vendor, since in either case you might have the option of employing the new PCI Express (PCIe) 5.0 bus as the data conduit for the boot drive.

PCIe 4.0 SSDs anchor most of today's fastest desktops, and they are very fast—but PCIe 5.0 drives are the future, and they have just started to arrive. With theoretical bandwidth speeds up to 14,000MBps, some PCIe 5.0 drives could be nearly twice as fast as PCIe 4.0 SSDs at peak data transfers, though it's still early days and we haven't seen many for sale quite yet. While it’s true that a 7,000MBps-rated PCIe 4.0 drive is almost certainly fast enough even for an up-to-the-moment, cost-no-object gaming PC, the vast speed increase possible with PCIe 5.0 is worth a look, if you want to future-proof your investment in a multi-kilobuck PC. (Incidentally, sorry, laptop users: PCIe 5.0 SSDs don't yet have a clear path onto notebooks, due to thermal-management and cost issues.)

What Is PCI Express 5.0, and Why Does It Matter for the Newest SSDs? (1)

Crucial/Micron's first consumer PCIe 5.0 SSD(Photo: Molly Flores)

As with any bleeding-edge technology, PCIe 5.0 introduces several caveats you'll need to consider. Let’s take a look at the features and limitations of PCIe 5.0, and what they mean for SSDs in greater detail.

What Is PCI Express 5.0? (Spoiler: Enormous Bandwidth)

PCIe (for Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) 5.0 is the latest PCIe standard, offering substantial increases in bandwidth over previous generations. Using a variable-length design, a PCIe slot can have between one and 16 PCIe links, which determine its overall speed. It can be implemented on PC motherboards in regular PCIe slots for expansion cards, or in M.2 slots for internal gumstick-style M.2 SSDs.

The number of links, or "lanes," is denoted on PCIe expansion slots and PCIe M.2 slots by affixing an “x” followed by the number of links to the end of the PCIe 5.0 name. This means that a PCIe 5.0 x1 slot supports just one PCIe 5.0 lane, whereas a PCIe 5.0 x4 slot has four. A PCIe 5.0 x16 slot has 16.

For PCIe 5.0, a single link supports 3.94GBps of bandwidth, and the connection standard is also a duplex connection, which means it's able to transmit that 3.94GBps in both directions simultaneously. Theoretically, this means it would be possible to both read and write 3.94GBps of data simultaneously to a PCIe 5.0 SSD that has a PCIe 5.0 x1 connection. This is limited, however, by the performance of the specific components in question. Also, a small amount of bandwidth is lost as overhead from the components communicating with each other.

What Is PCI Express 5.0, and Why Does It Matter for the Newest SSDs? (2)

Relative increases in PCIe bandwidth, generation to generation(Credit: Intel)

This enormous amount of bandwidth is what makes PCIe 5.0 so special, as it far outstrips its predecessor. The PCI Special Interest Group (PCI-SIG), which maintains and develops new PCIe standards, has consistently worked to double the amount of bandwidth with each new generation. PCIe 5.0 inherently has double the bandwidth per lane of PCIe 4.0, which in turn has double the bandwidth of the PCIe 3.0 version still fairly common inside modern PCs.

Does Your Motherboard Support PCI Express 5.0?

Support for PCIe 5.0 on modern desktop motherboards is currently a bit of a mixed bag, as it hasn’t been universally implemented yet. Only the newest hardware from both AMD and Intel support PCIe 5.0, but even then you’ll want to check what board you buy to ensure it supports PCIe 5.0.

At this writing, PCIe 5.0 is most widely available on AMD’s AM5 platform, designed for its most recent chips, the Ryzen 7000 desktop CPUs. Both the AMD X670E and AMD X650E chipsets support PCIe 5.0 for both graphics and a single PCIe 5.0 NVMe M.2 SSD slot. The AMD X670 chipset also has support for a single PCIe 5.0 NVMe M.2 SSD slot, and support for a PCIe 5.0 NVMe M.2 slot is listed as an optional feature for AMD’s B650 chipset motherboards. Most B650E, X670 and X670E chipsets will ship with a PCIe 5.0 NVMe M.2 slot, but here again—double-check the specs before buying to make certain.

What Is PCI Express 5.0, and Why Does It Matter for the Newest SSDs? (3)

One M.2 slot on the Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Hero is configured to work as either an PCI Express 4.0 x4 or PCI Express 5.0 x4 connection, which makes the board ready for PCIe 5.0 NVMe SSDs.(Credit: Michael Sexton)

Intel’s latest Socket 1700 platform also has support for PCIe 5.0, but it's a more complicated situation. For both AMD and Intel, the PCIe 5.0 controller resides inside of the processor. AMD’s PCIe 5.0 controller has more PCIe lanes available, though, which is why AMD Ryzen 7000 processors are able to support both a PCIe 5.0 x16 slot for graphics cards and a PCIe 5.0 NVMe M.2 slot for SSDs.

Intel’s latest desktop chips, its 13th Gen "Raptor Lake" processors, also offer enough PCIe 5.0 lanes to support both a PCIe 5.0 x16 graphics card slot and a PCIe 5.0 x4 NVMe M.2 SSD slot, but the older 12th Generation "Alder Lake" processors do not. This means that if you have an Alder Lake processor and a PCIe 5.0 x4 NVMe M.2 slot, your graphics card slot will only operate at half speed with a PCIe x8 connection. This may not be that serious, but it’s less than ideal if you're looking at the most possible future-proofing.

Support for PCIe 5.0 on Intel chipsets up and down the LGA1700-compatible stack is far less common than with the latest AMD chipsets. If you’re looking to find an Intel motherboard with PCIe 5.0 support for an NVMe M.2 slot, your best bet is to look through available Z790 chipset motherboards. And again: The presence of an NVMe M.2 slot does not mean it's necessarily 5.0-compatible. Check those specs with care.

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What Is PCI Express 5.0, and Why Does It Matter for the Newest SSDs? (4)

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What Benefit Does PCI Express 5.0 Offer SSDs?

To be sure, higher potential peak transfer rates. For a PCIe 5.0 SSD to actually achieve its maximum rated speed in your next PC build, you’ll need support for the standard both on your motherboard generally, as described above, and on the specific M.2 slot that you plan to use for the drive installation.

What Is PCI Express 5.0, and Why Does It Matter for the Newest SSDs? (9)

The ASRock X670E Taichi motherboard supports PCIe 5.0 SSDs on its topmost M.2 slot.(Credit: Eric Vander Linden)

Furthermore, not every motherboard that supports the PCIe 5.0 bus necessarily has an M.2 slot connected to that bus. Some employ only PCIe 4.0-capable M.2 slots, with PCIe 5.0 support limited to expansion slots destined for video cards and the like, which won’t do you any good for SSDs. (Check out our explainer for what M.2 and all the other SSD jargon means.)

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How Do You Keep a PCI Express 5.0 SSD Cool?

With the blistering speeds of PCIe 5.0 SSDs comes a lot of heat output. SSDs always generate heat when you’re reading and writing data to them for an extended period, but drives based on earlier PCIe standards typically are able to dissipate it through a small heatsink that covers the drive and the M.2 slot. Sometimes the heatsink comes with the drive; in some cases, the M.2 slot or slots on the motherboard have integrated heatsinks that cover the slots. But PCIe 5.0 drives generate so much heat that these kinds of smaller heatsinks aren’t able to dissipate it all. As a result, manufacturers are exploring other ways to cool the drives.

For example, Gigabyte has come up with what it calls Thermal Guard Xtreme, a truly titanic passive dissipation system, for its first PCIe 5.0 SSD, the Aorus 10000 Gen 5. The drive itself, sandwiched between a pair of high-thermal-conductivity pads and in an aluminum base to which the rest of the assembly is screwed, connects via two heat pipes to the nanocarbon-coated, aluminum-finned array that arches above it. The entire contraption is a whopping 1.75 inches tall.

What Is PCI Express 5.0, and Why Does It Matter for the Newest SSDs? (13)

(Credit: Molly Flores)

A setup like that is an ingenious solution to beating the heat, but it can limit the types of PC motherboards that can accept PCIe 5.0 drives, or the components that can lie adjacent to them. For example, there could be an issue in seating this cooler in some motherboards, particularly as the PCIe 5.0 M.2 slot is likely to be immediately adjacent to the slot for the graphics card and not far from the CPU socket. A large CPU air cooler that overhangs the socket region could, in theory, collide with the 1.75-inch tall Gigabyte heatsink.

What Is PCI Express 5.0, and Why Does It Matter for the Newest SSDs? (14)

At left in the accessories image above is the active fan cooler that goes over the ASRock X670E Taichi's PCIe 5.0 M.2 slot.(Credit: Eric Vander Linden)

Some motherboards even have built-in active cooling on their M.2 PCIe 5.0 slots. The ASRock X670E Taichi, for example, has a replacement heat-shield cover for the PCIe 5.0 M.2 slot with a heatsink tower and cooling-fin stack, on which a 40mm PWM fan is mounted.

What Do You Need to Install a PCI Express 5.0 SSD?

The headlining feature of PCIe 5.0 is speed, and what speed it is! While it's true that total PCIe bandwidth doubles with each successive generation, that doesn't necessarily correspond directly to the speed available for storage drive access. A theoretical maximum of 14,000MBps is a giant leap forward in bandwidth of a magnitude we haven’t seen before from one recent PCIe generation to the next. True, you don’t actually need all of that bandwidth right now, even for the most cutting-edge gaming PC, but if you’re the type who likes plenty of headroom when you’re building a new PC, it’s worth doing the legwork.

To recap that legwork: First, find a CPU and a motherboard that support PCIe 5.0, and that route that support through an available NVMe M.2 SSD slot on the board. Next, find a PCIe 5.0 drive. So far, only a handful are available, such as the Aorus 10000 Gen 5 mentioned above. We recently tested an engineering sample of the Crucial T700 from memory giant Micron, as well, with retail versions expected to be available at the end of May 2023. (And, as we published this story, Corsair just issued its first PCIe 5.0-compatible consumer drive.) Finally, confirm that the drive’s thermal solution will fit on the motherboard and play nice with surrounding parts. (Don't forget to measure twice!)

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What Is PCI Express 5.0, and Why Does It Matter for the Newest SSDs? (15)

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It goes without saying that right now, the whole process is only worthwhile if you’re building a new PC from scratch, or scouting out the latest models from a build-to-order PC maker. Even if you just built one with a motherboard that supports PCIe 5.0 and has enough room for a drive and its heatsink, it’s worth waiting a bit for the selection of drives on the market to expand before you choose one. And of course, if you’re upgrading an older build with a CPU and motherboard that lack PCIe 5.0 support, you’re out of luck. Your upgrade will have involve at least a motherboard and CPU swap, and given the rise of DDR5 memory in recent desktop platforms, probably new RAM, too. No one said keeping up with the latest speed advances was cheap!

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What Is PCI Express 5.0, and Why Does It Matter for the Newest SSDs? (2024)


What Is PCI Express 5.0, and Why Does It Matter for the Newest SSDs? ›

What is PCIe 5.0? PCIe 5.0 or Gen 5 is essentially just a new standard of PCIe that brings double the amount of data transfer compared to PCIe 4.0 or Gen 4. This enables higher performance on pretty much every kind of device, but especially SSDs and (to a certain extent) GPUs.

What is the difference between PCIe 4.0 and 5.0 SSD? ›

PCIe 4.0 doubles the bandwidth of 3.0, the current standard; 5.0 doubles the bandwidth of 4.0 again. Additional CPU PCIe lanes give both your GPU and SSD access to CPU lanes. Upgrading to a PCIe 4.0 SSD prepares your system for new gaming innovations like DirectStorage. Every generation of PCIe is backwards compatible.

Are PCIe 5.0 SSDs available? ›

The MP700 is Corsair's very first PCIe 5.0 SSD, available in the ubiquitous full-sized M. 2 2280 format. Corsair claims 10GB/s read and write on the 2TB drive, typical of Gen 5 drives with their next-gen interface and NAND memory.

What is different about PCIe 5? ›

PCIe 5.0 is twice as fast as PCIe 4.0, with a maximum data transfer rate of 32 GT/s (gigatransfers per second), a maximum unidirectional bandwidth of 64 GB/s (gigabytes per second), and a maximum bidirectional bandwidth of 128 GB/s.

What are the specs of PCIe 5.0 SSD? ›

PCIe 5.0 is expected to bring SSDs with max theoretical read speeds of 14,000MBps. With Gigabyte and Micro Center Inland's PCIe 5.0 SSD specs maxing out at 10,000MBps reads and 9,500MBps writes, the T700 looks like it will be the fastest consumer SSD.

Does PCIe 5.0 matter? ›

When should I upgrade to PCIe 5.0? It's only worth upgrading to PCIe 5.0 if you have the most up-to-date storage devices and video cards which use PCIe 5.0 or 4.0 lanes. This will of course future-proof your PC set up, whilst also freeing up PCIe lanes.

What is PCIe 5.0 used for? ›

PCIe 5, and like its previous iterations, are used as slots to connect peripheral components (such as graphics cards and storage drives) to the motherboard (or a host) to allow for the data transfer and communication between the peripheral and the host.

What is the fastest PCIe 5.0 SSD for gaming? ›

Tested: Crucial's New T700 Is the Fastest PCI Express 5.0 SSD Yet.

Do Gen 5 SSDs exist? ›

Gigabyte and Inland (a Micro Center brand) are the first companies to offer PCIe Gen5 consumer SSDs in the U.S. Gigabyte's Aorus Gen5 10,000 and Inland's TD510 drives come in a 2TB configuration and are rated for a maximum sequential read speeds of 10GB/sec and maximum sequential write speeds of 9.5GB/sec.

How do I know what PCI version my SSD is? ›

  1. Identify the motherboard make and model. Press on the Windows key. ...
  2. Enter the motherboard make and model number (identified in step 1) into your search engine.
  3. Find the computer manufacturer site or specification sheet for your motherboard and identify the supported PCIe generation on the website or specification sheet.

How many PCIe 5 slots do I need? ›

How many PCIe Slots you need depends on the amount of Add-In-Cards you'll be using. Most need just one for their dedicated Graphics Card. Some require a second slot for a second GPU, a Soundcard, a Wifi Card or for add-in Thunderbolt support.

What is PCIe 5.0 power supply? ›

The UD1000GM PCIE 5.0 power supply supports the PCIe Gen 5.0 graphics cards and it is capable to deliver the increasing power that the high-end graphics card demand. Traditional power supplies need a three 8-pin to 16-pin adapters to support the latest PCIe Gen 5.0 graphics cards.

Which PCIe is better? ›

In general, the first PCI Express slot on your motherboard will be the best one to install your graphics card into. The first slot will usually be a fully-decked PCIe x16 slot that will allow your graphics card to run at its full performance, and it may be one of the only x16 slots available on the motherboard.

What devices use PCIe 5? ›

These include graphics cards, solid-state drives (SSDs), sound cards, capture cards, USB hubs, and various other components. They're the elongated slots on your motherboard that run parallel to one another. High-end motherboards like this Z690 board have several PCIe slots.

How much power does PCIe 5.0 output? ›

The PCIe 5 specification not only defines the maximum average power consumption at 600 watts, but also limits short-term load peaks. With the new PCIe 5 standard, a graphics card is allowed to draw a maximum of three times its average power consumption in an interval of up to 100 microseconds.

Does PCIe 5 matter for gaming? ›

How good is PCIe 5.0 for gaming? Devices designed for PCIe 5.0 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 4.0 or 3.0 yet.

Is 3080 a PCI Express 5? ›

The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30 Founders Edition is compatible with the PCIe 5.0 power connector due to the card not needing to utilize more than the required 450W.

Does Intel 13th Gen support PCIe 5.0 SSD? ›

Intel's latest desktop chips, its 13th Gen "Raptor Lake" processors, also offer enough PCIe 5.0 lanes to support both a PCIe 5.0 x16 graphics card slot and a PCIe 5.0 x4 NVMe M. 2 SSD slot, but the older 12th Generation "Alder Lake" processors do not.

Which is faster SSD or PCIe? ›

PCI Express supersedes SATA as the latest high bandwidth interface. Entry-level PCIe SSD speeds are two to three times faster than the older generation of SATA 3.0 SSDs mainly due to the number of channels contained by each to transfer data (roughly 10 for SATA and 25 for PCIe).

What is the maximum speed of PCI Express SSD? ›

This PCIe SSD delivers sequential read speeds up to 3400 MBps with write speeds up to 3000 MBps, save for the 250 GB model, which offers sequential read speeds up to 3400 MBps and write speeds up to 1400 MBps. This PCIe SSD is available in 250 GB, 500 GB, 1 TB or 2 TB models.

Which SSD card is fastest? ›

NVMe is a standard designed with flash storage in mind (opposed to the older AHCI, which was created for platter-based hard drives). In short, if you want the fastest consumer-ready SSD, get one with NVMe in the name. You'll also need to be sure that both the drive and the slot support NVMe.

Is PCIe SSD better than SSD? ›

PCIe or Peripheral Component Interconnect Express SSDs are more desirable and expensive than SATA SSDs. PCIe SSDs have a more direct connection to your system's motherboard. It is commonly used with devices that need extremely fast data connections — like a graphics card.

Which generation SSD is best? ›

With all that boring stuff out of the way, here are some go-to best SSD recommendations.
  • Best 2.5-inch SATA Drive: Crucial MX500. ...
  • Best PCIe 3.0 M. ...
  • A more affordable Gen3 NVME: Crucial P2. ...
  • A SATA option: WD Blue SN570. ...
  • Best Gen4 NVME: Crucial P5 Plus. ...
  • Best portable drive: Samsung T7. ...
  • Best thumbstick drive: Samsung Fit Plus.
Jun 1, 2023

What is PCI Express in computer? ›

PCIe is short for “peripheral component interconnect express” and it's primarily used as a standardized interface for motherboard components including graphics, memory, and storage.

What is the difference between PCIe versions? ›

A PCIe x1 slot has one lane and can move data at one bit per cycle. A PCIe x2 slot has two lanes and can move data at two bits per cycle (and so on). You can insert a PCIe x1 card into a PCIe x16 slot, but that card will receive less bandwidth.

How do I know if my SSD is NVMe or PCIe? ›

Press Win + I to open Settings. Go to the System > Storage page and click on the Disks and Volumes option under Advanced storage settings. On the next page, click on the Properties button next to the drive name. The properties page will show the NVMe line for the Bus type.

How can I increase my PCIe speed? ›

From the System Utilities screen, select System Configuration > BIOS/Platform Configuration (RBSU) > PCIe Device Configuration Options > Maximum PCI Express Speed.

How much better is PCIe 5? ›

Gigabyte's beast delivers blazing-fast sequential read and write speeds. PCIe 5.0 SSDs essentially double the theoretical bandwidth of PCIe 4.0 drives, which have largely topped out at about 7,000MBps read and 5,000MBps writes.

Do graphics cards need PCIe 5? ›

Despite the excitement surrounding the release of PCIe 5.0, both Nvidia and AMD have decided to stick with PCIe 4.0 for their latest GPUs. The Nvidia 4000 series and AMD RX 7000 series GPUs, which were released in late 2021, are still compatible with PCIe 4.0.

What is the difference between PCIe 5 and 6? ›

PCI Express® (PCIe®) specification has served as the de facto interconnect of choice for nearly two decades. The PCIe 6.0 specification doubles the bandwidth and power efficiency of the PCIe 5.0 specification (32 GT/s), while continuing to meet industry demand for a high-speed, low-latency interconnect.

Which PCI slot is the fastest? ›

Bandwidth Table
PCI1056 Mbps
PCI Express 2.0 / x44 Gbps
PCI Express 3.0 / x1632 Gbps
PCI Express 3.0 / x816 Gbps
PCI Express 3.0 / x48 Gbps
19 more rows

What is the most common PCIe version? ›

PCIe slots come in different physical configurations: x1, x4, x8, and x16. By far, the most popular set up is PCIe x16, as most GPUs require it to operate at their full potential.

Is there a difference between PCI Express slots? ›

Each PCI slot type looks different, and accepts different devices. Placing a PCI card in the wrong slot will damage the card, and can potentially destroy the entire computer.

How do I enable PCIe 5? ›

From the System Utilities screen, select System Configuration > BIOS/Platform Configuration (RBSU) > Network Options > Network Boot Options > PCIe Slot Network Boot. Select a PCIe slot entry. Select a setting. Enabled—Enables UEFI network boot for NIC cards in PCIe slots.

Can you put a PCIe 3.0 card in a 5.0 slot? ›

Due to the forward and backward compatibility, a PCIe 3.0 GPU will perform like a PCIe 3.0 GPU card if connected to a PCIe 4.0 (or in the future a PCIe 5.0) slot. The specs of your GPU card do not change.

Will PCIe 5 be worth it? ›

PCIe 5.0 brings an incredible performance benefit over PCIe 4.0 in pure bandwidth but to run it, you need the latest CPUs and the latest motherboards. If your motherboard features PCIe 4.0 only, is it worth upgrading a CPU and motherboard for PCIe 5.0 SSDs? The harsh answer is no, not today—at least for most people.

Does PCIe 4.0 matter for SSD? ›

The faster the throughput, the better performance you'll see from peripherals such as solid state drives (SSDs). A recent PC Gamer story heaped the highest praise on the standard, saying, “If you want the absolute fastest drives available, then PCIe 4.0 SSDs are the way to go.

Do I need PCIe 5.0 for 4090? ›

In fact, 4090 doesn't work with Gen 5 directly. It will use PCIe 4.0 on PCIe 5.0 slot as PCIe are back-compatible.

Does graphics card PCIe slot matter? ›

For graphics cards, you'll always get the best results by using the fastest available PCI Express x16 slot. PCI Express x8 slots can be acceptable when doing a multi-GPU setup as well, but even then motherboards that support multiple x16 slots can be a better choice for multi-GPU builds.

What PCIe slot for SSD? ›

They tend to use a x8 PCIe slot interface, not the standard x4 interface. These drives also tend to be configured as RAID 0 arrays using two sets of NAND chip groupings with their own SSD controllers.

Is NVMe better than SSD? ›

NVMe SSDs are significantly faster than any SATA SSD. It's not even a competition. For pretty much anything and everything you can think of, NVMe SSDs are better.

What is the maximum SSD speed for PCIe Gen 4? ›

By comparison, PCIe Gen 4 operates at 16 GT/s, or around 2 GB/s (gigabytes per second) per PCIe lane.

Will RTX 40 series use PCIe 5? ›

Each GeForce RTX 40 Series Founders Edition graphics card reduces cable clutter by leveraging the new standard GPU power input of next-gen ATX 3.0 power supplies, the PCIe Gen-5 16-pin Connector.

What PCIe is the RTX 3060? ›

ASUS Dual NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 OC Edition Gaming Graphics Card (PCIe 4.0, 12GB GDDR6 Memory, HDMI 2.1, DisplayPort 1.4a, 2-Slot Design, Axial-tech Fan Design, 0dB Technology, and More.

How many PCIe does 4090 need? ›

The only spec that you absolutely need to meet in order to run an RTX 4090 is to have at least three PCIexpress 8pin connectors. If you don't have an ATX 3.0 rated power supply and therefore lack the new 16-pin power connector, you'll need to use an adapter, and that needs three PCIe 8 pins cables to power it.

How much power does PCIe 5.0 draw? ›

The PCIe 5 specification not only defines the maximum average power consumption at 600 watts, but also limits short-term load peaks. With the new PCIe 5 standard, a graphics card is allowed to draw a maximum of three times its average power consumption in an interval of up to 100 microseconds.

What does PCIe 5.0 transfer data at? ›

PCIe 5.0 has a maximum data transfer rate of 128 GB/s, twice the rate of PCIe 4.0.

Will 1000w be enough for 4080? ›

So, you will be able to run the RTX 4080 with a 750W PSU but bear in mind that this is only the minimum requirement to effectively operate the GPU. If you are considering doing some overclocking, you'll definitely need a more powerful PSU. Otherwise, you'll be good with either a 750W, 850W, or 1,000W.


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