[SOLVED] Help Buying a M.2 SSD. Motherboard supports PCIE 3.0x4.

stebobibo

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May 6, 2021
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Hi,
My motherboard says it "supports up to PCIe 3.0 x4" for its two M.2 slots.
First, I want clarification on what the "x4" means. There wasn't much info about it online. I think it had to do with # of lanes it uses. Could anyone explain that more? Do I have to match that number with the SSD, or can the SSD have a higher or lower #?
Secondly, about the PCIe 3.0 vs 4.0. I've read that it's backwards compatible, so a 4.0 will work, but at lower speed. However, how am I supposed to determine what speed any given 4.0 SSD will have when in a 3.0 slot? They don't give this info in the specs (that I could find). And all SSDs have different speeds (so it's not like there's a standard speed it'll downgrade to).
I've noticed a lot of 4.0 units have comparable prices to 3.0 ones. So, should I get a PCIe 4.0 SSD, even if I won't know how fast it'll be?
I've looked up lists for best M.2 SSDs. Almost all lists were comprised of entirely PCIe 4.0 models. One list had a good section on 3.0 models, though. These are the ones he recommended:
  • ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro 1TB
  • Samsung 970 Evo Plus 1TB
  • Western Digital Black SN750 1TB
Lastly, I'd love to hear what you would recommend for me. I want 1TB or more. My target price range is around $150 Canadian or lower (so any of the 3 above work). Thanks for your help!
 
Last edited:
Hi,
My motherboard says it "supports up to PCIe 3.0 x4" for its two M.2 slots.
First, I want clarification on what the "x4" means. There wasn't much info about it online. I think it had to do with # of lanes it uses. Could anyone explain that more? Do I have to match that number with the SSD, or can the SSD have a higher or lower #?
Secondly, about the PCIe 3.0 vs 4.0. I've read that it's backwards compatible, so a 4.0 will work, but at lower speed. However, how am I supposed to determine what speed any given 4.0 SSD will have when in a 3.0 slot? They don't give this info in the specs (that I could find). And all SSDs have different speeds (so it's not like there's a standard speed it'll downgrade to).
I've noticed a lot of 4.0 units have comparable prices to 3.0 ones. So, should I get a PCIe 4.0 SSD, even if I won't know how fast it'll be?
I've looked up lists for best M.2 SSDs. Almost all lists were comprised of entirely PCIe 4.0 models. One list had a good section on 3.0 models, though. These are the ones he recommended:
  • ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro 1TB
  • Samsung 970 Evo Plus 1TB
  • Western Digital Black SN750 1TB
Lastly, I'd love to hear what you would recommend for me. I want 1TB or more. My target price range is around $150 Canadian or lower (so any of the 3 above work). Thanks for your help!
For first question. Yes x4 in PCIe means number of PCIe lanes but not only for M.2 slots. Lanes may come from CPU and/or from chipset and are shared by other PCIe slots, M.2 PCIe x4 is also NVME.
With and PCIe v4 x4 (nvme drive in a PCIe v3 you may expect about up to 3,500/3,300 MB/s, which is about maximum for PCIe v3 interface.
All 3 of those would do satisfactory job, I would prefer Samsung for speed or WD because of heat spreader if there's none on your MB. NVMe drives tend to get hot.
 
Hi,
My motherboard says it "supports up to PCIe 3.0 x4" for its two M.2 slots.
First, I want clarification on what the "x4" means. There wasn't much info about it online. I think it had to do with # of lanes it uses. Could anyone explain that more? Do I have to match that number with the SSD, or can the SSD have a higher or lower #?
Secondly, about the PCIe 3.0 vs 4.0. I've read that it's backwards compatible, so a 4.0 will work, but at lower speed. However, how am I supposed to determine what speed any given 4.0 SSD will have when in a 3.0 slot? They don't give this info in the specs (that I could find). And all SSDs have different speeds (so it's not like there's a standard speed it'll downgrade to).
I've noticed a lot of 4.0 units have comparable prices to 3.0 ones. So, should I get a PCIe 4.0 SSD, even if I won't know how fast it'll be?
I've looked up lists for best M.2 SSDs. Almost all lists were comprised of entirely PCIe 4.0 models. One list had a good section on 3.0 models, though. These are the ones he recommended:
  • ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro 1TB
  • Samsung 970 Evo Plus 1TB
  • Western Digital Black SN750 1TB
Lastly, I'd love to hear what you would recommend for me. I want 1TB or more. My target price range is around $150 Canadian or lower (so any of the 3 above work). Thanks for your help!
Confusing isn't it?

Most users will not see a diff between pcie3 and pcie4 with the exception of benchmarks.

I've used a sn750 for a couple of years all I can tell you about it is it works.
 
Hi,
My motherboard says it "supports up to PCIe 3.0 x4" for its two M.2 slots.
First, I want clarification on what the "x4" means. There wasn't much info about it online. I think it had to do with # of lanes it uses. Could anyone explain that more? Do I have to match that number with the SSD, or can the SSD have a higher or lower #?
Secondly, about the PCIe 3.0 vs 4.0. I've read that it's backwards compatible, so a 4.0 will work, but at lower speed. However, how am I supposed to determine what speed any given 4.0 SSD will have when in a 3.0 slot? They don't give this info in the specs (that I could find). And all SSDs have different speeds (so it's not like there's a standard speed it'll downgrade to).
I've noticed a lot of 4.0 units have comparable prices to 3.0 ones. So, should I get a PCIe 4.0 SSD, even if I won't know how fast it'll be?
I've looked up lists for best M.2 SSDs. Almost all lists were comprised of entirely PCIe 4.0 models. One list had a good section on 3.0 models, though. These are the ones he recommended:
  • ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro 1TB
  • Samsung 970 Evo Plus 1TB
  • Western Digital Black SN750 1TB
Lastly, I'd love to hear what you would recommend for me. I want 1TB or more. My target price range is around $150 Canadian or lower (so any of the 3 above work). Thanks for your help!
For first question. Yes x4 in PCIe means number of PCIe lanes but not only for M.2 slots. Lanes may come from CPU and/or from chipset and are shared by other PCIe slots, M.2 PCIe x4 is also NVME.
With and PCIe v4 x4 (nvme drive in a PCIe v3 you may expect about up to 3,500/3,300 MB/s, which is about maximum for PCIe v3 interface.
All 3 of those would do satisfactory job, I would prefer Samsung for speed or WD because of heat spreader if there's none on your MB. NVMe drives tend to get hot.
 

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