Which Is Faster: PCI-E Or SATA?

SATA is typically much faster than PCI Express, so when you build a computer using these two types of connections, you get a lot of speed, and that’s great! However, the PCIe connection can do something SATA can’t do.

With the latest generation cards, it offers more bandwidth – up to 16Gbps at peak. This is three times what a SATA port can provide. So, goodbye, slow SATA! Hello fast PCIe!

Why is this Question So Important?

PCIe has been around for a few years, while SATA has only been around for a few years. So which is faster: PCI-E or SATA?

When it comes to data speeds, PCIe and SATA are about equal. That said, there are some factors to consider when picking one over the other.

For example, PCIe has more bandwidth than SATA in certain cases, so if you need that extra boost in speed, PCIe might be the way to go. Additionally, PCIe is usually better regarding power usage; however, this isn’t always the case.

Depending on your specific motherboard and configuration, you might see better performance with SATA. Ultimately it all depends on your needs and what you expect from your system.


PCI-E is the newer standard and significantly increases bandwidth and performance over SATA. However, SATA has become more popular in recent years, so it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each before making a decision.

PCI-E vs. SATA: Speed

PCI-E offers a significant increase in bandwidth and performance over SATA. Theoretically, PCIe can run at twice the speed of SATA3, but this isn’t always the case in practice.

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Most modern motherboards only support PCIe x4 lanes, so you’ll likely see around six times the throughput on a PCIe card than you will on a regular SATA3 device.

That said, there are some cases where PCIe can offer much higher throughput than SATA3, such as with NVMe SSDs or high-end graphics cards.

PCI-E vs. SATA: Connectivity

One of the major benefits of PCI-E is its greater connectivity capabilities. Whereas SATA only supports 6Gbps speeds (and usually doesn’t reach beyond 16Gbps), PCIe can handle up to 32Gbps per lane.

This means that you can typically connect two full-size PCI Express cards via a single motherboard header, granting you incredible bandwidth – enough for even the most demanding applications.

PCI-E vs. SATA: Compatibility

Another advantage of PCI-E is its wider compatibility range. Whereas many motherboard manufacturers only support certain storage devices through their built-in ports (such as  SATA3 or USB3), PCIe can support a wider range of devices.

This means you can use a PCIe card to connect to storage devices that wouldn’t normally be compatible with SATA, such as high-capacity NVMe SSDs.

PCI-E vs. SATA: Power Consumption

One of the main disadvantages of PCI-E is its higher power consumption. Whereas SATA devices typically draw only around 5W of power when in use, PCIe cards can often require up to 50W of power – enough to severely restrict your available power budget.

If you’re looking to build a high-performance system, it’s important to consider the power demands of your chosen hardware components.

Benefits of PCI-E

PCI-E is the latest and fastest standard for connecting devices in a PC. It’s 2x faster than SATA, making it the best for high-performance systems.

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Here are some benefits of using PCI-E:

  1. PCI-E provides faster data transfer speeds.
  2. PCI-E offers more bandwidth and improved reliability.
  3. PCs with a PCI Express expansion slot can take advantage of faster graphics cards, hard drives, and other peripherals.
  4. Easier installation and configuration – no need to uninstall your current hardware or upgrade your BIOS!

Advantages of SATA

PCIe is the current popular standard for connecting peripheral devices to a computer, but SATA can sometimes be faster when loading large files or when transferring large amounts of data. 

Since PCIe and SATA both use different bus structures, they can achieve different levels of performance depending on the type of device, the exact connection configuration, and other factors. However, PCIe will generally be faster than SATA for most tasks.

Disadvantages of PCI-E

PCI-E has some disadvantages over SATA. For one, the number of lanes is limited to 16 per device – compared to the 3-4 that SATA can offer.

Second, PCI-E devices are more power-hungry than SATA devices and require a more powerful motherboard to function optimally. Additionally, PCI-E devices can often be quite expensive – especially if you want to upgrade your graphics card or other high-performance peripherals.

SATA vs. PCI-E Summary

PCIE is the newer standard for connecting external storage devices to a computer. SATA is the older standard, but PCIe is now replacing it. 

PCIe has a few advantages over SATA: 

  • It can carry more data per second. 
  • It’s faster when transferring big files. 
  • It has more power options than SATA. 

However, PCIe doesn’t have as many advantages over SATA regarding actual performance. In most cases, a PC with a PCIe card will perform the same as a PC with a SATA card when accessing data stored on an external hard drive or SSD.

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PCI-E vs. SATA – which is faster?

In a world of ever-increasing data speeds and requirements, choosing which storage interface to use can be tough. PCI Express (PCI-E) and Serial ATA (SATA) are two of the most popular options currently available, but which is faster?

The short answer is that there is no definitive answer. The performance difference between PCI-E and SATA depends on various factors, including the specific hardware you’re using and your overall workload. That said, here are some general guidelines to help you decide:

If speed is your top priority, then go for PCI Express. It’s typically much faster than SATA, and many modern laptops and desktop PCs support it natively.

If you’re only looking for basic compatibility with existing hardware, though, or don’t need the extra speed, SATA should work fine.

There are also other factors to consider when making this decision. For example, PCI-E supports more devices than SATA at once, so your computer can handle more simultaneous tasks.

Additionally, PCI-E provides greater flexibility when upgrading your hardware in the future – you can swap out older PCIe cards for newer ones without reconfiguring your system.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to compare the various pros and cons of each option before making a final decision. However, these tips should help provide some guidance along the way.


There’s no doubt that PCI-E and SATA offer different benefits, but which is faster? The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the type of data being transferred and the amount of traffic in your network.

If you’re unsure whether to go with PCI-E or SATA, it might be best to consult a professional who can help you determine which option is best for your specific situation.

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Matt Wilson
By Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is a PC gaming and hardware expert with years of experience. He's a trusted tech product reviewer for gamers and tech enthusiasts.

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