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Difference Between PCI-E and PCI-X

PCI-E Vs PCI-X: In this tutorial, we will learn about the PCI-E (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) and PCI-X (Peripheral Component Interconnect Extended) and the Difference Between PCI-E and PCI-X. By IncludeHelp Last updated : June 27, 2023


As technological advancements continue to revolutionize the world of computer hardware, understanding key components such as PCI-E and PCI-X is crucial for both novices and professionals alike.

These two popular standards enhance data transfer rates and overall performance compared to their predecessor, the original Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI). In this tutorial, we will explore the differences between PCI-E and PCI-X in terms of bandwidth, speed, compatibility with modern hardware, and more.

After reading this tutorial, you will learn -

  • PCI-E and PCI-X are modern technologies designed to enhance data transfer rates and overall performance compared to the older PCI standard.
  • The main difference between these standards lies in their bandwidth, speed, compatibility with modern hardware, cost, and availability.
  • While both standards have distinct advantages and disadvantages depending on specific requirements within various computing applications, most modern computer systems can take advantage of the improved performance offered by PCI-E due to its higher bandwidth capabilities.
  • When selecting a suitable hardware component for your specific needs effectively optimizing overall system efficiency understanding their respective purposes is crucial.

What is PCI-E?

PCI-E stands for "Peripheral Component Interconnect Express" which is an advanced technology for enhancing the older, conventional PCI standard. These standards facilitate communication between computer hardware devices by connecting them to a motherboard through expansion slots. PCI-E focuses on employing serial data transmission rather than parallel transmission found in both PCI and PCI-X standards.

The high-performance graphics cards or network adapters can leverage the enhanced speed provided by PCI-E's point-to-point connections for smooth functioning during demanding tasks such as gaming or video editing.

What is PCI-X?

PCI-X stands for "Peripheral Component Interconnect Extended" which is also an advanced technology for enhancing the older, conventional PCI standard. PCI-X was introduced in 1998 as an upgraded version of the traditional 32-bit PCI local bus. Developed by IBM, HP, and Compaq to deliver higher performance and faster data transfers than its predecessor, it is characterized by a wider 64-bit parallel interface that operates at frequencies up to 533MHz – significantly boosting bandwidth capabilities.

The server environments handling large amounts of data regularly might benefit more from the expansive bandwidth offered through using multiple lanes on a single slot enabled by the broader parallel architecture of the PCIe-X technology.

Key differences between PCI-E and PCI-X

PCI-X has a bus width of 64 bits and runs at up to 533MHz, while PCI-E uses serial data transmission and provides higher bandwidth with the ability to scale from one to 32 lanes.

Bandwidth and Speed

One of the crucial differences between PCI-E and PCI-X lies in their bandwidth and speed capabilities. The table below provides a comparison of their performance characteristics, helping both novice users and professionals make informed decisions when selecting hardware components for a computer system.

Facts to compare PCI-E PCI-X
Data transmission Serial data transmission Parallel data transmission
Bus width Varies depending on the number of lanes (x1, x4, x8, x16) 64-bit
Maximum bandwidth Up to 31.51 GB/s (PCI-E 5.0 x16) Up to 4.26 GB/s (PCI-X 533MHz)
Clock speed Up to 16 GT/s (PCI-E 5.0) Up to 533 MHz
Number of connected devices Point-to-point connection between two devices Shared connection between multiple devices

The table illustrates how PCI-E outperforms PCI-X in terms of bandwidth and speed, which is essential for the smooth functioning of modern computer systems. Additionally, PCI-E's serial data transmission minimizes the risk of data corruption, while its point-to-point connection enables dedicated bandwidth for each connected device. These advantages give PCI-E a clear edge over PCI-X in terms of performance and reliability.

Compatibility with modern hardware

PCI-E is the more modern standard of the two, and it is generally preferred for newer computer systems. This is because PCI-E has a much higher bandwidth compared to PCI-X, which means that data can be transferred at faster speeds. Additionally, many modern computers do not even have PCI-X slots anymore since they are considered outdated. Most devices made after 2008 support PCIe.

As technology continues to advance and devices become more complex, compatibility with older hardware becomes less common. However, most motherboards still come equipped with both PCI and PCIe slots so that users can use either expansion card if needed. For example, while network cards are now largely available in PCIe format only (since manufacturers stopped producing them in the less efficient PCI version), USB expansion cards still commonly come in both formats.

Understanding the compatibility between modern hardware and these three standards is crucial when building or upgrading a computer system. By choosing the right expansion card slots for your components you will ensure seamless integration into your existing setup and optimal performance of your hardware.

Cost and Availability

PCI-X is an older technology that may be difficult to find and more expensive than PCI-E components. This is due to the fact that new hardware manufacturers have largely shifted their focus to utilizing the newer PCI-E standard in their products. While a few specialized applications may still require PCI-X, most modern computer systems can take advantage of the improved performance offered by PCI-E. As such, compatibility concerns should be kept in mind when selecting hardware components for a computer system.

When it comes to cost, PCI-E cards tend to be less expensive than those designed for use with the older PCI-X standard. This is primarily due to supply and demand dynamics; as fewer manufacturers produce or carry PCIX-compatible components, these items typically sell at a premium price point compared to more widely used standards such as PCIe. Additionally, given that there are relatively few computers on the market today able to accommodate PCIe devices, this may further depress prices on some types of PCIX-specific hardware equipment. Nonetheless, if you need fast data transfer speeds and don't want/need backward compatibility with older generation motherboards or expansion slots (such as AGP), then prioritizing PCIe-compatible parts when building your next computer makes sense from both an efficiency and affordability standpoint - so long as what you are trying do requires features made possible by them!


While both standards were designed to improve upon the older PCI standard, they have their key differences in terms of bandwidth, speed, compatibility with modern hardware, cost, and availability.

Overall, it can be stated that PCI-X is an upgraded version of the PCI bus architecture while the use of serial data transmission makes PCI-E a better choice than its predecessor when considering high-speed data transfer requirements.


The following are the frequently asked questions with answers based on the difference between PCI-E and PCI-X.

1. What is the main difference between PCI-E and PCI-X?

PCI-E (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) is a newer technology that offers higher bandwidth and faster speeds than its predecessor, PCI-X (Peripheral Component Interconnect Extended). PCIe uses serial signaling while PCI-X uses parallel signaling, which means that PCIe can handle more data transmission at once.

2. Is it possible to use both PCI-E and PCI-X on the same motherboard?

It depends upon the specific motherboard and available slots but generally speaking - it is unlikely as these two technologies are not compatible with each other. Therefore, if your system requires both interfaces to work together for certain hardware components such as graphics cards or raid controllers to function properly then you will need separate motherboards designed specifically to accommodate each type of interface individually.

3. Can I upgrade from using a PCI-X card to a PCIe card without changing my entire system setup?

Yes, it is possible however upgrading from one technology platform to another does require some additional considerations & planning before implementation. This may include purchasing new hardware components like power supplies, memory modules, or processors capable of supporting desired operative frequency, etc.

4. Which interface should I choose for my business needs -PCI-E or PCI-X?

It ultimately depends on what types of devices you plan on connecting via your system's expansion slots. Generally speaking – If speed & bandwidth are top priorities then PCIe might be better suited than older standards like PCIX while if budget constraints are a predominant concern then PCIX could potentially offer comparable performance albeit limited flexibility when compared against their younger counterparts(such as support for hot-plugging).

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