PCIe and SATA SSD for Gaming: 10 Differences

You will need to choose the right kind of storage solution for your computer not only to store the data and information safely but also for its better performance.

From the varied list of SSDs you can choose a PCI Express or a SATA SSD but you will not know which is the best between the two for gaming if you do not know the differences between them.

This is an article that will educate you about those major differences between a SATA SSD and PCIe and to find out which is suitable to use.


  • The PCIe SSDs can transfer more data at a higher speed by using four lanes for it as opposed to a single lane made available to the SATA SSD by its interface.
  • The SATA SSDs are bigger than the PCI Express SSDs and therefore offer a larger storage area.
  • The architecture and design of the PCI Express SSDs need more energy to perform than a SATA SSD and therefore generates more heat in the process.
  • The PCI Express SSDs can transfer data at a high speed of up to 16 GB/s which is significantly higher than the average data transfer speed of the SATA SSDs which is about 6 GB/s max.
  • A PCI Express SSD may not fit into or be compatible with any computer system if the motherboard does not support it but a SATA SSD will be much more compatible and may even work with an older system with SATA connectivity.

The 10 Differences Between PCIe and SATA SSD for Gaming


1. Lanes Usage

The best part of the PCI Express interface over the SATA interface is that it can transfer data at a higher speed by using up to 4 lanes.

On the other hand, the SATA interface has only one lane to transmit data which may affect your game play.

2. Size

The PCI Express SSDs are smaller in size. On the other hand, the SATA SSDs are larger in size.

3. Power Consumption

The PCI Express SSDs will typically consume more power. It is the design and architecture of it that will drain more energy and dissipate more heat.

If you are using a laptop while gaming, you will need a good and more effective cooling system.

On the other hand, the SATA SSDs are known to consume much less power than the PCI Express SSDs due to the same reason. However, that comes at the cost of data transfer speed.

4. Battery Life

This is a very important factor to consider if you are using a laptop computer for gaming.

The PCI Express SSDs are known to drain more battery life faster due to its higher power requirements.

This will once again affect your game play and you will have to keep the system plugged into a power outlet constantly.

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On the other hand, the SATA SSDs will not use as much battery power as the PCI Express SSDs will typically use.

5. Installation

The PCI express SSDs can be mounted on the motherboard of a computer directly or into an empty bay. It usually does not need an additional adapter for a secure fit.

On the other hand, the SATA SSDs must be installed in a bay and also need an additional adapter to ensure a snug fit. .

6. Cost Factor

The PCI Express SSDs are much more expensive in comparison for its small form factor design and architecture.

On the other hand, the design of the SATA SSDs makes it less costly as compared to a PCI Express SSD.

7. Compatibility

The PCI Express SSDs may not work with any and every computer system, or motherboard to be precise, if it does not support it. It may not even fit into a few motherboards.

On the other hand the SATA SSDs are much more compatible and have a much higher likelihood to work with even the older systems. All it needs is SATA connectivity.

8. Data Transfer Speed

This is a very important factor for gaming. The PCI Express SSDs can transfer data to and from it at a very high speed of up to 16 GB/s.

However, in comparison, the SATA SSDs, on the other hand, cannot transfer data at a high speed. More often than not it can attain a high speed of up to 6 GB/s which will surely affect your gaming experience.

9. Slots Offered

The PCI Express slots being minimal will not allow easy expansion of storage of your computer into a PCIe SSD.

Usually there will be more SATA slots that will allow easier and faster expansion by using SATA SSDs.

10. Storage Capacity

The PCI Express SSDs are known to come with lesser storage space, usually up to 2 TB.

This is just enough for everyday use and for storing the operating system and all of the frequently used apps but may not be adequate for games.

On the other hand, the SATA SSDs come with much higher storage capacity.

While the low-end options can come with a storage capacity ranging anywhere between 4 TB to 6 TB on the higher side, the high-end options can come with a storage space as high as up to 60 TB. This is surely good news for the gamers.

Which is Better – PCIe or SATA SSD for Gaming?

Differences Between PCIe and SATA SSD

As of now, with all the differences among the PCI Express SSD and a SATA SSD mentioned above, it seems that the PCI Express SSDs have a slight edge over the SATA SSDs.

This is particularly in terms of speed and performance, both of which will affect your game play.

However, it is not easy to make a decision even then unless you know a few other vital facts and information regarding the two storage options.

As said earlier, compatibility of the storage option you use is a very important factor to consider because it will influence your final choice as well as your gaming experience.

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In addition to that, you will also need to look into the slot on the motherboard of your computer for specifications in order to determine which particular interface is supported by it and your computer.

This is over and above the other important factors such as price, performance, and power that you should also take into consideration.

As you may be aware already that not all SSDs are the same since they differ in some key elements and the PCI Express SSDs and the SATA SSDs are no exception to this phenomenon.

The SATA connectivity in the SSDs brought in a lot of benefits to data and memory storage just as it brought in a lot of notable advancements to computing.

The SATA interface connects to the motherboard through cables that were typically designed for the HDDs or Hard Disk Drives.

However, when the SSDs were released in the market, they used the same interface to operate.

This allowed the users to upgrade their storage drives very easily.

However, one thing that you should know about the SATA SSDs is that these will work only on a SATA interface.

Continuing with the pros and cons of a SATA SSD, this inexpensive storage option will not take up a slot on your motherboard and comes with a well established format.

The systems have more interfaces but need a bay for installation and offer a lot of storage space.

On the other hand, the PCIe or the Peripheral Component Interconnect Express is a much faster interface.

It features a less significant physical footprint. This means that it will consume little real estate of your computer.

One of the most significant and essential features of the PCI Express connection, which also offers the most significant benefit in terms of data transfer speed and gaming, is its implementation of multiple lanes.

This is a major merit of the PCI Express that the SATA interface is found lacking in.

This means that the PCI Express storage devices with 4 lanes will offer transfer speed that is four times faster than the SATA storage devices that typically can transfer data through a single lane.

Therefore, when you use a PCI Express SSD you can expect to have a more responsive computer system that will offer smoother multitasking and faster game play.

So, the notable advantages and disadvantages of the PCI Express SSDs include additional flexible installation options, faster performance, no need for a dedicated bay for installation, and a much smaller physical footprint.

However, these benefits offered by a PCI Express SSD come with a higher price tag than a SATA SSD.

Talking about the size of the PCI Express SSDs, since it is smaller, it is a good choice if you are pressed for space like in a mini tower computer.

It will fit into the PCIe slot on the motherboard.

This is also a good option to choose when there is no empty bay to use a SATA SSD but there are open slots on the motherboard.

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The SATA SSD on the other hand, along with the necessary cable to connect it will take up a lot of space.

Therefore, though both SATA SSD and PCI Express SSD offer storage options, the speed and performance along with your budget and needs apart from the difference between them may influence your choice.

Still, if you are looking for easy availability and use, lower cost storage option with lots of space, and a simple variety and more flexibility, the SATA SSD should be your ideal choice.

This is why a SATA storage device is a commonplace. It offers enough performance to take care of most of your storage needs.

However, since you are looking for a suitable storage option for gaming, the following additional information is extremely crucial to make the right choice.

In order to have a high-end gaming computer that will support max VR use at optimal settings, choose a SATA SSD.

It will support all types of intensive processes such as gaming, video editing, and graphics rendering.

You can store a lot of games in the huge storage space offered by these drives which offers adequate data transfer speeds to ensure quick loading of the games.

Also, the SATA SSDs tend to have much better hardware compatibility.

Therefore, it will work well with a desktop computer and a laptop computer with several gaming accessories added to them, even if the system is decade old.

The PCI Express SSDs, on the other hand, are better to use for less intensive use of computers restricted to nothing other than checking and sending emails, surfing the web, word processing, and basic gaming.

However, please consider the battery draining and energy consuming aspects of the PCI Express SSDs that are much higher in comparison to the SATA SSDs, and both these aspects are crucial for gaming.

Still, with the mixed pros and cons of each, when you are playing a video game, it is less likely that you will notice any big difference in loading speeds while starting the game and while changing maps.

Both SATA SSD and a PCI Express SSD will load the games lightning fast.

Therefore, neither of the two drives is particularly better in terms of gaming.

It is only that the advantages offered by one may be more useful to you while gaming.

It is a matter of personal preference and gaming needs, as said earlier, and knowing which of the two interfaces is more suitable at a particular time.


When you are given only two options to choose from such as a PCI Express SSD and a SATA SSD for gaming, it may be difficult for you to make a choice right away if you do not know the differences between them in particular.

Hopefully, this article has sufficed that specific need pretty well.

About Taylor Swift

Taylor SwiftTaylor Swift, a UOPEOPLE graduate is a freelance technology writer with in-depth knowledge about computers. She has an understanding of hardware and technology gained through over 10 years of experience. Follow Her at Linkedin

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