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Can I Use a PCIe 4.0 Graphics Card in a PCIe 3.0 Slot?

Learn whether PCIe 4.0 graphics cards will work in PCIe 3.0 motherboard slots.

NVidia Geforce RTX Graphics Card in a Computer Caspar Camille Rubin / Unsplash

Last Updated: August 30, 2022

Written by Kevin Jones

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Can I Use a PCIe 4.0 Graphics Card in a PCIe 3.0 Motherboard Slot?

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A PCIe 4.0 graphics card will work in a PCIe 3.0 motherboard slot at PCIe 3.0 speeds.

For PCIe 4.0 graphics cards, maximum graphics throughput can only barely exceed that of PCIe 3.0. For this reason, the benefits of upgrading your motherboard to PCIe 4.0 will be minor.

PCI-Express versions are backward compatible, meaning that you can use a PCIe 4.0 graphics card or storage device on a PCIe 3.0 or PCIe 2.0 system. However, PCI-Express will use speeds based on the lowest of the two versions for communication. For example, if you use a PCIe 4.0 video card with a PCIe 3.0 system, the video card would be running at PCIe 3.0 speeds.

Reducing the PCIe version would halve the max potential bandwidth. However, you may not experience a performance impact if your device is not using the available bandwidth.

You can refer to the following table to determine the bandwidth limit and decide whether that is adequate for your needs.

PCI-Express Speeds (Rounded)
x1 Bandwidth x2 Bandwidth x4 Bandwidth x8 Bandwidth x16 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
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Can I Use an x4 or x8 Card in an x16 PCIe Slot?

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You can use PCIe cards of a lower lane width (e.g., x2, x4, or x8) in a higher lane width slot (e.g., x16).

PCI-Express will negotiate how many lanes will be used, and your card will work at its full speed, assuming the PCIe slot has the same or higher PCIe version.

Is PCIe 4.0 Worth It for Gaming?

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The performance improvement when upgrading graphics to PCIe 4.0 from PCIe 3.0 is currently pretty minor.

It is worth the upgrade to PCIe 4.0 for gaming if you:

  • Want to get every bit of extra performance out of a PCIe 4.0 graphics card
  • Use the fastest NVMe storage devices for loading games, which will make use of the speed
  • Want to future-proof your system
  • Want to free up PCIe lanes for other devices

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

Check out the complete list of CPUs supporting PCIe 5.0 in Which Intel and AMD CPUs Support PCIe 5.0?.

Which Desktop Graphics Cards Support PCIe 4.0?

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Both Nvidia and AMD graphics cards supporting PCI-Express 4.0 are available.

All graphics cards with Nvidia's GeForce RTX 30 series GPUs support PCIe 4.0.

AMD's Radeon RX 5000, RX 6000, and RX 7000 series GPUs all support PCIe 4.0.

List of GPUs That Support PCIe 4.0

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Nvidia GPUs

Nvidia PCIe 4.0 GPUs

Nvidia GeForce RTX 4000 Series
Desktop PCIe 4.0 x16 GPUs

GeForce RTX 4090, RTX 4080

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3000 Series
Desktop PCIe 4.0 x16 GPUs

GeForce RTX 3060, RTX 3060 Ti, RTX 3070, RTX 3070 Ti, RTX 3080, RTX 3080 Ti, RTX 3090, RTX 3090 Ti

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3000 Series
Desktop PCIe 4.0 x8 GPUs

GeForce RTX 3050

Nvidia RTX Ax000 Series
Workstation PCIe 4.0 x16 GPUs

RTX A2000, RTX A4000, RTX A5000, RTX A6000

Nvidia GeForce 20 Series
Mobile PCIe 4.0 x4 GPUs

GeForce MX450, MX550, MX570

Nvidia GeForce 30 Series
Mobile PCIe 4.0 x16 GPUs

GeForce RTX 3050, RTX 3050 Ti, RTX 3060, RTX 3070, RTX 3080

Find PCIe 4.0 Nvidia Graphics Cards on Amazon (affiliate link).

AMD GPUs

AMD PCIe 4.0 GPUs

AMD Radeon RX 7000 Series
Desktop PCIe 4.0 x16 GPUs

RX 7900 XT, RX 7900 XTX

AMD Radeon RX 6000 Series
Desktop PCIe 4.0 x16 GPUs

Radeon RX 6700 XT, RX 6750 XT, RX 6800, RX 6800 XT, RX 6900 XT, RX 6950 XT

AMD Radeon RX 6000 Series
Desktop PCIe 4.0 x8 GPUs

Radeon RX 6600, RX 6600 XT, 6650 XT

AMD Radeon RX 6000 Series
Desktop PCIe 4.0 x4 GPUs

Radeon RX 6400, RX 6500 XT

AMD Radeon RX 5000 Series
Desktop PCIe 4.0 x16 GPUs

Radeon RX 5600, RX 5600 XT, RX 5700, RX 5700 XT, RX 5700 XT 50th Anniv. Ed.

AMD Radeon RX 5000 Series
Desktop PCIe 4.0 x8 GPUs

Radeon RX 5300, RX 5300 XT, RX 5500, RX 5500 XT

AMD Radeon Pro 5000M Series
Mobile Workstation PCIe 4.0 x16 GPUs

Radeon Pro 5300M, Pro 5500M, Pro 5600M

AMD Instinct Series
Server PCIe 4.0 x16 GPUs

Radeon Instinct MI60, AMD Instinct MI100, AMD Instinct MI250, AMD Instinct MI250X

Find PCIe 4.0 AMD Graphics Cards on Amazon (affiliate link).

Are PCIe Versions Forward Compatible?

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PCIe versions are forward compatible, meaning that you can use a newer PCIe device with an older system. However, PCI-Express will use speeds based on the lowest of the two versions for communication.

Check out the table above to determine what the throughput limit would be for a specific configuration.

Multiple PCIe Versions for CPU/Motherboard

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Some CPUs and motherboards provide PCI-Express lanes at multiple PCIe versions. In these cases, you can choose which devices need the most bandwidth to decide which should be connected to the highest version PCIe lanes. While laying out your system, keep in mind that PCIe speeds will be based on the lowest PCIe version between the slot/port and the device.

Other Considerations When Building a PC

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Want to brush up on other new technologies to consider when building a computer? Check out these articles:

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: