Best PCIe 4.0 Motherboard for Intel & AMD CPUs
Now we know: AMD had made a public rejection at Computex, indicating that even mainboards without X570 chipset could offer PCIe 4.0 via the Ryzen 3000 CPUs.
But Asus has now published a list of various X470 and B450 mainboards that are supposed to offer PCIe 4.0 at least partially.
Not via the chipset, but the integrated I/O chip of the Ryzen 3000 CPUs (test), older mainboards can also use PCIe 4.0. After all, the processors themselves provide 16 PCIe 4.0 lanes for graphics cards and four additional lanes for M.2 NVMe SSDs.
But only the X570 has more PCIe 4.0; X470 and B450 even use the old standard PCIe 2.0.
But the PCIe 4.0 technology will be more and more relevant in the future.
If you want to set up a system that lasts a long time while offering high performance and being reasonably future-proof, you do not get around a motherboard with PCIe 4.0 support.
We tested three top motherboards with PCIe 4.0 support which offer the best performance for users.
Test Results: Best PCIe 4.0 Motherboard for Intel & AMD CPUs
Ranking First: ASUS ROG Zenith II Extreme TRX40
- Very good performance with a very good CPU power supply
- Extensive equipment, including eight SATA 6 Gbit/s interfaces, eight USB 3.1 Gen1 ports and nine USB 3.1 Gen2 sockets
- WLAN-ax and Bluetooth 5.0
- PCH fan can be controlled manually
- Power consumption
Best peforming PCIe 4.0 Motherboard
For the third Ryzen Threadripper generation based on Zen 2, AMD has restructured the previous socket TR4 and now markets it as socket sTRX4.
This has resulted in new boards based on the TRX40 chipset, which are mandatory for use with Ryzen Threadripper 3960X and 3970X.
We start with the extensively equipped ASUS ROG Zenith II Extreme.
With the launch of AMD’s X399 platform two years ago, ASUS had to come up with a new name for a corresponding ROG top model.
In the end it became the ROG Zenith Extreme, which we also built into our compensator.
At the beginning of this year ASUS followed up with the ROG Zenith Extreme Alpha as a refresh.
The logical consequence for the new TRX40 chipset and the third Ryzen-Threadripper-Generation is the name “ROG Zenith II Extreme”.
Listed is the ASUS ROG Zenith II Extreme from 781 Dollar, a sum which of course has to be invested carefully.
But the E-ATX Monster also offers a correspondingly extensive equipment, which will probably leave nothing to be desired. We’ll find out how extensive the equipment will turn out in this review.
The new ASUS ROG Zenith II Extreme is very similar to the ROG Zenith Extreme Alpha in many aspects, concerning the VRM cooler and also the distribution of the expansion slots.
According to this, ASUS already had a corresponding base and roughly replaced the socket and chipset. In detail there are a few differences.
Apart from the large ROG Zenith II Extreme, ASUS of course also supplies some accessories.
Not only the motherboard manual, a USB stick and eight SATA cables are included, but also a 2T2R WLAN antenna, the Q-connector and five M.2 threads and screws.
Those who have already discovered the DIMM.2 slot will already know that ASUS also supplies the DIMM.2 module, which can accommodate two M.2 SSDs.
But ASUS also includes two RGB extension cables with a length of 32 inches, one of which is addressable.
Also included: A 3-in-1 thermistor cable, a cross screwdriver with extension bit, a ROG drink coaster and a ROG thank you card.
As a special feature, ASUS has included the FAN Extension Card so that the user can connect not only six additional fans, but also three additional RGB strips and three thermal sensors.
With the leeks of the Ryzen Threadripper 3000 processors (Castle Peak) based on Zen 2, AMD is also moving the switch to PCIe 4.0 in the HEDT segment.
The platform itself has a total of 88 PCIe 4.0 lanes, 64 lanes from the processor and 24 lanes from the TRX40 chipset.
However, a total of 16 lanes (eight lanes each from the processor and the TRX40 chipset) are already reserved for the down- and uplink for communication between the CPU and the chipset.
The connection as a whole, however, is specified with PCIe 4.0 x8 and is thus twice as high as with the X570 mainboards.
Compared to the X399 platform for the first and second Ryzen threadripper generation, the bandwidth of PCIe 3.0 x4 has even quadrupled.
Thus AMD officially advertises with 72 usable PCIe 4.0 lanes, which can be derived in 56 lanes from the sTRX4 CPU and in 16 lanes from the TRX40 chipset.
However, eight lanes each are used for storage (2x NVMe PCIe 4.0 x4 or 4x SATA 6GBit/s) on the CPU side and for the connection for narrow PCIe slots/M.2 slots or SATA ports (2x PCIe x4 or 4x SATA 6GBit/s) on the chipset side.
This leaves 56 freely available PCIe 4.0 lanes: 48 from the processor and eight from the PCH, which can be freely distributed by the motherboard manufacturer.
Furthermore, numerous USB interfaces are also provided. The CPU provides four USB 3.2 Gen2 (10 GBit/s), eight USB 3.2 Gen2 and four USB 2.0 AMD TRX40 chipsets.
In general, four SATA 6GBit/s sockets are also provided, with the option of up to a maximum of 12 SATA ports.
ASUS has equipped the ROG Zenith II Extreme with an extensive backplate on the rear side, which covers a good 75% of the PCB.
The backplate is not only used for optics, but is also responsible for cooling some capacitors from the VRM area and for supporting cooling of the TRX40 chipset.
On the right side there is a RGB LED strip.
The VRM cooler of the ASUS ROG Zenith II Extreme was designed quite large, but this is also a necessity, because with up to 32 cores and 64 threads (Ryzen Threadripper 3970X) the whole VRM area (especially under load) is quite demanding and generates a lot of waste heat.
Basically, ASUS took two heat sinks, connected them via heatpipe and extended the cooling area by covering the I/O panel right away.
The heat pads are mostly of a very good size and cover everything except the two outermost coils completely. The 10 Gbps controller is also cooled.
If we turn the VRM cooler around, the 1.77 inch OLED LiveDash display becomes visible.
This preferably serves as a debug LED and displays the initialization codes at each boot-up.
At the same time, an icon indicates which component is currently being initialized.
The display then finally shows the CPU temperature during operation.
Corresponding information is also displayed if the user is currently updating the BIOS via USB BIOS flashback feature, including progress.
Above the display, a mirror optics with RGB LED illumination and Zenith II lettering ensures a clear contrast.
The TRX40 chipset is actively cooled, whereby ASUS uses the familiar 40 mm radial fan, as used on the X570 models.
You could already guess that the VRM cooler has several fans in its luggage, and that’s the case.
The two axial fans with a diameter of 25 mm should ensure that the voltage converters can be kept in check in hot situations.
However, the thought of a disturbing background noise immediately comes to mind. We will analyse this later.
AMD’s Ryzen Threadripper 3960X or 3970X is operated on the ASUS ROG Zenith II Exteme from a whopping 16 coils.
Each coil gets the input from a power stage MOSFET of the type TDA21472 from Infineon with 70A.
The re-labelled IR35201 PWM controller, called ASP1405I, was placed on the back of the PCB and can control a maximum of eight coils, so ASUS decided to set up teams of two.
This means that instead of 16 coils, there are eight real coils.
The whole thing is fired by two 8-pin EPS12V and one 6-pin PCIe power connectors, which can be seen on the left of the picture.
The new sTRX4 socket was placed directly between the eight DDR4 DIMM memory banks.
The sTRX4 socket still consists of 4,096 pins, but AMD has used a different layout for the third Threadripper generation. As a result, both sockets are mechanically but not electrically compatible.
Up to 256 GB RAM can be installed with an effective clock frequency of up to 4.733 MHz, as specified by ASUS.
In general, only UDIMMs can be used, but the ECC option is included. Between the 24-pin power connector and the four DDR4 DIMM slots we see the DIMM.2 slot.
There the included DIMM.2 module is inserted, which can accommodate two additional M.2 SSDs.
On the back side, at the height of the VRM area, you can see some capacitors, which also should not be uncooled.
You can see very well the area covered by the thermal pad of the backplate.
The WB_Sensor header is the preparation for the use of a monoblock water cooler, which can transmit not only temperature data but also the flow rate of the water.
ASUS has adopted the PCIe slot layout from the ROG Zenith Extreme Alpha 1:1 and also applied it to the ROG Zenith II Extreme.
Accordingly, the user receives four mechanical PCIe 4.0 x16 slots, which are optionally well suited for a 2-way or 3-way multi-GPU combination.
From top to bottom, the slots were electrically connected with x16/x8/x16/x8. The 48 lanes required for this are provided by the CPU.
In the case of a multi-GPU configuration, it is also advisable to connect the 4-pin Molex power connector to the power supply. This improves the electrical stability.
The two spaces in between have been consistently filled with two M.2-M key interfaces (M.2_1 and M.2_2). While the upper M.2 connector (M.2_1) was not connected restrictively, the lower one (M.2_2) shares the connection with the lower PCIe slot.
If a PCIe SSD is working in M.2_2, the PCIe slot only works in x4 mode.
On the back of the PCB, ASUS has left a third M.2-M key connector (M.2_3) in the lower section, which shares the connection with the two additional SATA ports.
The disadvantage of this position, however, is that changing the SSD in most cases (depending on the case) means a motherboard removal.
The features of the I/O panel from left to right and from top to bottom:
- CMOS clear button, USB BIOS flashback button
- WLAN-ax and Bluetooth 5.0 module with two antenna threads (Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200)
- 2x USB 3.2 Gen1 (Type-A, ASMedia ASM1074), 2x USB 3.2 Gen2 (Type-A, CPU)
- Gigabit-LAN (Intel I211-AT), 2x USB 3.2 Gen2 (Type-A/C, CPU)
- 2x USB 3.2 Gen1 (Type-A, ASMedia ASM1074), 2x USB 3.2 Gen2 (Type-A, AMD TRX40)
- 10 Gbps LAN (Aquantia AQtion AQC107), 1x USB 3.2 Gen2 (Type A, AMD TRX40), 1x USB 3.2 Gen2x2 (Type C, ASMedia ASM3242)
- 5x 3.5 mm jack, TOSLink
Except for Thunderbolt 3.0, the ASUS ROG Zenith II Extreme offers an extremely luxurious I/O panel.
Seven USB 3.2 ports of the second generation (10 GBit/s), four USB 3.2 sockets of the first generation (5 GBit/s) as well as a USB 3.2 Gen2x2 interface (20 GBit/s) in the type C variant form a full 12 USB ports.
For network connectivity, a Gigabit LAN (Intel I211-AT), a 10 GBit/s LAN port (Aquantia AQtion AQC107) and Intel’s Wi-Fi 6 AX200 module are available for use.
The USB BIOS flashback and CMOS clear button added to the convenience, while the five 3.5mm jacks and an optical digital output are the last remaining features.
The 3.5 mm jacks are also colour-illuminated accordingly.
The isolated audio section is of course called “ROG SupremeFX” and consists not only of the re-labelled Realtek ALC1220 codec, but also of the ESS-Sabre-9018Q2C-DAC, ten audio capacitors and a dedicated headphone amplifier.
Further to the left, we see the SuperI/O controller with the designation NCT6798D-R from Nuvoton.
Verdict: Best peforming PCIe 4.0 Motherboard
For the switch to PCI-Express 4.0 in the HEDT segment, AMD relies on the socket with the designation “sTRX4”, which still has 4,096 pins, but in a modified pinout and is only compatible with the third Ryzen threadripper generation.
Our first tested and compatible motherboard with the matching TRX40 chipset is the extensively populated ASUS ROG Zenith II Extreme as direct successor of the ROG Zenith Extreme Alpha (AMD X399), ASUS’ refresh version of the original ROG Zenith Extreme.
Apart from the Prime TRX40-Pro and the ROG Strix TRX40-E Gaming, the ROG Zenith II Extreme of course offers the most extensive equipment and should also appeal to the Extreme overclocking users.
Because with the 16 CPU and a total of four RAM coils, ASUS relies on a powerful VRM area and has also considered the slow and LN2 mode.
This also applies, of course, to six voltage measuring points with which important voltages can be determined directly.
With a full 21 USB ports, many USB devices can be connected. Nine of them work with the nimble USB 3.2 Gen2 specification, eight with 5 GBit/s (USB 3.2 Gen1) and three with USB 2.0 data rates.
As a bonus, a USB 3.2 Gen2x2 type C connector is also available on the I/O panel, which is powered by ASMedia’s ASM3242 controller and can move data at speeds of up to 20 Gbps.
For storage, not only eight SATA 6GBit/s have been provided, but also a total of five M.2 M key interfaces, if the DIMM.2 module is added, whereby the rear M.2 connector is difficult to access in everyday use.
Other highlights include a 10Gbps LAN controller and numerous onboard conveniences, including the 1.77-inch Live Dash OLED display, which displays debug codes at each system boot, replacing the usual debug LED.
We have to praise ASUS for the PCH fan. It has now been placed much further down and is also very quiet.
In addition, the fan can now be controlled manually in the BIOS.
Thus, nothing stands in the way of a semi-passive mode. The two 25 mm fans of the VRM cooler are disturbingly loud above a certain speed.
But fortunately they can be controlled and didn’t even start with default BIOS values.
The price for the ASUS ROG Zenith II Extreme is currently around 783 Dollar and of course requires a well stocked wallet. And that doesn’t even complete the system. All in all, the best performing motherboard with PCIe 4.0 support.
Ranking Second: MSI Prestige X570 Creation
- Motherboard looks fantastic with or without subtle RGB lighting
- Extended heatsinks keeps VRM and FCH temperatures low
- Excellent overclocking performance
- 4x NVMe 4.0 ports available
- Power consumption
Best price-performance Motherboard with PCIe 4.0 support
MSI has introduced six motherboards for AMD’s Ryzen 3000 processors at Computex.
The top model goes by the name of Prestige X570 Creation and is intended to take advantage of the platform’s connectivity options in the expanded ATX format.
Noteworthy are the 12 USB 3.1 ports on the I/O panel, 10 Gigabit/s Ethernet and the large cooling construction.
With AMD’s TR4 platform, MSI has introduced the Creation motherboard brand.
In the case of the AM4 socket around the I/O hub X570, colloquially called chipset, the manufacturer no longer combines the name with a MEG but with the Prestige series.
MSI thus makes it clear that the Prestige X570 Creation is intended for professional users who want to take advantage of the connection variety.
Due to the luxurious equipment, the board represents MSI’s top model. In the “gaming” sector, the MEG X570 Godlike is alternatively distributed as (presumably cheaper) flagship, which focuses on overclocking.
Ample cooling with I/O cover made of aluminum
Even in the MEG models, the manufacturer relies on a long heatpipe that connects the cooler of the X570 chip with those of the voltage converters and with the aluminum bridge above the audio section.
In the Prestige X570 Creation, the aluminium plate is larger on the lower half.
In addition, the cover above the I/O area is made of a single large aluminium block.
MSI is confident that the cooling will work quietly with this, even with an Aquantia AQC107 add-on controller that provides 10 Gigabit/s Ethernet.
Wifi 6 is implemented via an Intel chip. The fan runs semi-active from an I/O hub temperature of 60 degrees Celsius. Users can configure the fan curve themselves as required.
The rear panel makes it clear that on the connection side, MSI takes full advantage of the possibilities of the Ryzen 3000 processors and the X570 I/O hub.
Combined, both provide 12 USB 3.1 ports. The manufacturer provides the same number via 11 type A and one type C socket – no other motherboard has ever had so many USB 3.1 ports.
MSI provides two additional USB 2.1 type A ports for peripherals. A USB 3.1 front header is available for cases. To realize the number, MSI needs at least one additional controller.
Additional card for a total of 5 × M.2 with PCI Express 4.0
On the mass storage side, the Prestige X570 Creation offers 6 × SATA 6 Gbps and 3 × M.2 with PCI-Express 4.0 x4 connectivity.
Two additional NVMe SSDs can be inserted via an included PCI Express 4.0 x16 card (electrically designed as x8) – with full connectivity, however, only in one of the two upper slots, giving the graphics card eight instead of 16 PCI Express 4.0 lanes.
The bandwidth then corresponds to PCI-E 3.0 x16.
The Prestige X570 Creation comes in a black package, which is designed to appeal to the creator among you with colourful accents.
On the front of the box, the new PCIe Gen 4.0 standard, StoreMI Technology and that the X570 is AMD Ryzen 3000 Ready.
I won’t go into the StoreMI Technology, I’d like to refer to the review of our Edisoft (review of the MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC), which has taken care of the topic very well and in detail.
Overview of the different connections
Overview of the connections on the rear panel. And here you can see that the board is intended for creator and content creator.
Once per photo and directly below the overview from the X570 Creation user manual. On the I/O panel alone there are already 13 USB ports or 14 with the type C.
Installation of the NVMe SSD and a short description of the fan
The installation of my 970 Evo was quickly done.
The screws at the 4 marked places must be removed. Afterwards the cover can be removed and you have free access to the slots.
What I liked very much is that 4 spacers with screws are installed ex works. These can be removed according to your requirements.
To install my 970, I removed one of the spacers.
Then remove the foil so that the WL pad has contact to the 970 EVO.
Small note: As a long-time user of a GT75VR 7RF, I couldn’t really tell the difference between SSDs with or without passive cooling,
because I have never managed to fire one of my NVMe SSDs beyond 60° during gaming.
Of course, this can be different in the field of image editing with many workflows, here I simply lack the practical experience.
The fan on the Prestige only starts to rotate from about 65°-70°.
What I can say for sure is that it is not audible and very rarely starts to turn.
The MSI Prestige X570 Creator has 2 lan interfaces and a WLAN adapter on board, which can all be connected.
The Gigabit Lan Adapter from Intel has proven to be very reliable and I haven’t had any problems with any of my gaming sessions.
Also the WLAN adapter has proven to be very stable. It supports the standards 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax and the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz frequency band.
My Fritz Box 7590 manages a maximum of 1.7Gb/s. So I can only say that it works up to this value, but 2.4Gb/s is definitely achievable with an appropriate router and distance.
I also tested the 10Gigabit adapter and everything was stable up to 1 Gigabit. I could not test above that because of my network.
The Prestige X570 Creation supports both Creation Center software and Dragon Center software. Which one you want to use depends on what you want to do.
While the DC is aimed more at gamers, the Creation Center is aimed at creators and content creators.
Mystic Light 3 cannot be installed as a standalone version.
The “Home Screen” gives a nice overview of the different options of the center.
There is a Creator Mode, a User Scenario, Monitor True Color, LAN Manager and Mystic Light as a selection.
The Creator Mode offers the possibility to set up your system with the Auto function to get the best possible settings for different supported software.
4 options are available here.
High Performance is simply intended to get the best performance out of your system without the need to adjust much yourself.
However, this also means more heat that has to be dissipated.
Balanced brings out the best in performance and energy consumption, which also means quieter fans.
Silent gives you the options to run your system very quietly, but still with good performance. Customize is for those of you who want to do it yourself and like to test it.
Creation Center Monitor
Allows you to monitor the system.
Offers you various setting options to customize the monitor to your needs.
EyeRest is designed to protect the eyes by removing the blue tones. I know this from the GT75VR 7RF and it was my preferred setting.
Then there are profiles for Game and Movie. Again, there is a customize area where you can make settings yourself and adjust the system to your needs. Default are just the standard settings.
Here you can make various settings to optimize your network traffic or monitor the load up to the possibility to block certain IP addresses.
Provides various options for addressing the LEDs or the respective LED connectors on the board. Here I just let a few pictures work.
This function should give you the possibility to easily find updates for drivers or software.
With these you may be able to add apps later. So far it is still quite empty here.
Verdict: Best price-performance Motherboard with PCIe 4.0 support
The board offers for its approx. 500 $ a lot of features to appeal to the creators among you or those who are more gamers and just let the creator out on the side.
Whether it’s the tons (yes, tons) of USB ports or the Creator Center software or just the option with the expansion card for two additional NVMe SSDs, the board should give you pleasure and sweeten your work and gaming.
The Creator Center software gives you the option to create a library of some kind for your programs, if supported by the Center.
Thanks to the very good equipment with 1 Gigabit, 10 Gigabit Lan and Wi-Fi 6 the data transfer should not cause any major problems (provided your network is designed accordingly).
An additional plus point is that the Dragon Center can also be installed, so gamers can have their software back.
Which is unfortunately a pity and therefore my only negative point is that the Mystic Light software is not available as a standalone download yet.
The MSI Prestige X570 Creation is a high quality board with PCIe 4.0 support that can be used in many ways t a very fair price
Ranking Third: Asus Prime X570-Pro
- Very good performance with a sufficient CPU power supply
- Sufficient equipment, including six SATA 6 Gbit/s interfaces and five USB 3.1 Gen2 sockets
- Good overall performance, good stability and good energy efficiency
- Two M.2 M key interfaces (PCIe 4.0 x4)
- Chipset fan is covered by graphics card
Great performing Motherboard with PCIe 4.0 suppport
While the gaming series are almost flooded with numerous models, only two boards are represented for the Prime product line in the case of the X570 mainboards. For 180 Dollar, ASUS offers the Prime X570-P for a general introduction.
For 56 Dollar more, the Prime X570-Pro is then also available with a better basic configuration.
This consists of a CPU power supply that is better on paper, a USB 3.2 Gen2 header and additional FAN headers.
In addition, the Realtek LAN chip has been replaced with an Intel controller, a power button has also been installed onboard and an M.2 cooler is also included.
Apart from that, the usual expansion slots and the four DDR4 DIMM memory banks can be found.
With the X570-FCH, AMD takes a big step forward compared to the X370 and X470-FCH, because the X570-FCH is the first chipset to establish the PCI Express 4.0 feature in the desktop segment.
At the same time, the number of lanes increases from 8 to 16, of which 12 can be flexibly distributed by the motherboard manufacturers.
The connection between CPU and chipset is done via a down- and uplink with PCIe 4.0 x4 (Ryzen 3000).
If a Ryzen 2000 processor (Zen+, Pinnacle Ridge) is used instead, the chipset downlink is done in PCIe-3.0-x4 mode and therefore with 32 GBit/s instead of 64 GBit/s.
The X570 chipset provides eight USB 3.2 Gen2 and up to 12 SATA 6Gbps ports, depending on the motherboard manufacturer’s plans for the number of M.2 interfaces.
The following constellations are available: 2x NVMe (PCIe 4.0 x4) + 4x SATA 6GBit/s, 1x NVMe + 8x SATA 6GBit/s or 3x NVMe.
Starting with a Matisse CPU (Zen2, Ryzen 3000), another 24 PCIe 4.0 lanes are provided. 16 of them migrate to up to two mechanical PCIe-4.0-x16 slots primarily for the graphics card(s).
The distribution is either with x16/x0 or with x8/x8. But eight additional PCIe 4.0 lanes remain: four of them serve as chipset downlink and the remaining four lanes can be implemented either as 1x NVMe (PCIe 4.0 x4), 2x SATA and 1x NVMe (PCIe 4.0 x2) or 2x NVMe (PCIe 4.0 x2).
Four USB 3.2 Gen2 interfaces are also available.
In total, 40 PCIe 4.0 lanes will thus migrate to the X570 mainstream platform.
Of course, there are limitations if the user decides to use a Pinnacle Ridge CPU (Ryzen 2000), as this processor has 24 PCIe 3.0 lanes and “only” four USB 3.1 Gen1 ports.
Both VRM coolers not only take care of the voltage converters themselves, but also of the coils.
Especially on the left cooler, it’s noticeable that the heat conduction pad hasn’t been laid out straight and thus doesn’t completely cover the voltage converters.
The PCH cooler, on the other hand, has the usual ASUS size and has been fitted with a 40 mm fan.
No less than 14 CPU coils on the comparatively inexpensive ASUS Prime X570-Pro are impressive.
However, the positive appearance is deceptive, because the 14 coils don’t work natively and also don’t work in teams of two or connected via phase doubler, but in teams of three.
In this case, 12 coils are actually responsible for the Vcore and two for the CPU-SoC voltage.
In reality, however, this is a 4+2 configuration. The reason for this is the small ASP1106 PWM controller, which can manage a maximum of 4+2.
One 8-pin and one 4-pin power connector each provide the power input.
Up to 128 GB RAM can be accommodated in the four DDR4 DIMM memory banks.
In combination with Matisse (Ryzen 3000) ASUS speaks of effective clock rates up to 4,400 MHz, with Pinnacle Ridge (Ryzen 2000) up to 3,600 MHz.
ECC support is also on board, so that ECC UDIMMs can also be used.
The 24-pin power connector was of course placed below the memory banks, but also a USB 3.2 Gen2 header, a power button and four status LEDs.
On the right edge we see a 4-pin RGB header (ASUS Aura) and also three FAN headers.
The ASUS Prime X570-Pro provides three mechanical PCIe-4.0-x16 and PCIe-4.0-x1 slots each.
The two upper, metal-reinforced x16 slots are connected to the AM4 processor in x16/x0 or x8/x8 mode, the rest is handled by the X570 chipset.
The following table gives an overview of the lane connection.
There are also two M.2-M key interfaces, both of which can accommodate a module with a length of 2.5 inches to 4.4 inches.
Both SATA and PCIe modes are supported. The upper port is connected to the processor, the lower port is connected to the PCH.
The storage connections also include six SATA 6GBit/s sockets, natively connected to the X570 chipset. They were angled by ASUS at 90 degrees.
The I/O panel offers the following connectors (from left to right and top to bottom):
- PS/2, 2x USB 3.2 Gen1 (CPU)
- DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI 2.0b
- 2x USB 3.2 Gen2 (Type A/C, AMD X570)
- 2x USB 3.2 Gen2 (AMD X570)
- Gigabit-LAN (Intel I211-AT), 2x USB 3.2 Gen1 (CPU)
- 5x 3.5 mm jack, 1x TOSLink
The I/O panel cannot be accidentally forgotten during assembly, because it is already pre-mounted on the ASUS Prime X570-Pro.
Eight USB ports are accessible on the I/O panel, four of which work with the USB 3.2 Gen1 and four with the USB 3.2 Gen2 specification.
If there is an APU in the CPU socket, the HDMI 2.0b and DisplayPort 1.2 graphics output can also be used. Then PS/2, Gigabit LAN and the usual audio connections are added.
Three important components are located at the bottom PCB edge: On the left is the Intel I211 AT LAN controller, in the middle Nuvoton’s NCT6798D-R SuperI/O controller and on the right ASUS’ Crystal Sound, consisting of the Realtek ALC1220 and seven audio capacitors.
In our opinion, the basic layout of the ASUS Prime X570-Pro has a mixed design.
The PCIe-4.0-x1 slot under the topmost PCIe-4.0-x16 slot could have been left out, so that at least with a dual-slot graphics card no other interfaces become useless.
Furthermore, the positioning of the PCH fan is rather suboptimal when a large sized graphics card cuts off the air supply.
Apart from the high-priced X570 mainboards, the mainboard manufacturers usually also consider some “cheaper” representatives in order to ease the entry financially.
Nevertheless, many prospective buyers will still consider the price of at least 233 Dollar for the now reviewed ASUS Prime X570-Pro to be too high.
The board itself presents itself in a solid basic configuration without too much frills in the well-known black and white look and can show acceptable overclocking results despite the CPU power supply with 14 coils, which is only impressive in the first moment.
More than DDR4-3466 was not possible with RAM overclocking, though.
Compared to the Prime X570-P, which is about 55 Dollar cheaper, ASUS has given the Prime X570-Pro an Intel LAN controller, a USB 3.2 Gen2 header, a power button, status LEDs and an M.2 heat sink.
Also included is a discreet RGB LED lighting, which can be expanded with the existing RGB headers on request.
In general, the system can be supplemented with the usual expansion slots. The four DDR4 DIMM memory banks are available for up to 128 GB RAM. ECC support is also on board.
Verdict: Great performing Motherboard with PCIe 4.0 suppport
When it comes to energy efficiency, the ASUS Prime X570-Pro is not to be sneezed at and shows itself from the good side in this discipline.
The PCH fan is identical in construction to the counterpart of the ROG Crosshair VIII Hero (Wi-Fi) and the ROG Strix X570-E Gaming and is only in rare cases easily audible, but can’t be controlled manually and runs permanently.
Unfortunately, the fan’s position is also identical, so that there is little fresh air available in connection with a dual or triple slot graphic card.
So the question remains to be answered, how the price/performance ratio of the ASUS Prime X570-Pro is.
In our opinion, the price of at least 233 Dollar is very fair. Technically, it is well positioned and offers great PCIe 4.0 support.
What is PCIe 4.0?
PCI Express (PCIe) is a fast internal interface for expansion cards in computer systems.
The introduction of PCIe in 2004 put an end to AGP as a graphics card interface and also replaced PCI as an internal computer bus system.
In addition to use in desktop computers, PCI Express Advanced Switching is a variant that is used as a backplane in modular servers.
PCI Express is basically suitable for connecting several servers and modules to a computer system or telecommunications server.
This technology is suitable for time-critical applications such as image and sound reproduction. Functions for reserving minimum bandwidths are also available.
PCI Express is intended for copper lines and optical connections.
The PCI Express specification describes the software protocol, electrical and mechanical properties of the connectors and expansion cards.
Some of these are known from serial connection systems such as USB and FireWire. For example, plugging and unplugging during operation (hot plug) and bundling several lines to increase the transfer rate.
PCI Express will become even more important in the future.
The semiconductor circuits of PCI Express are also used in modified form for DisplayPort, SATA and SAS.
In the future, SATA will be replaced by an SSD interface called SATA Express, which is significantly different from PCI Express is affected.
Slot / Slots
There are different slots or slots on the motherboard for PCIe.
Typical are the long x16 slots for graphics cards and the short x1 slots for different expansion cards. Some motherboards also have x4 and x8 slots.
The designation x1, x4, x8 and x16 indicates how many PCIe lanes are cascaded in the slot.
In principle, short cards also work in long slots.
But be careful, the mechanical length does not say anything about how many lanes a slot has.
A x16 slot can also have only 4 (x4) or 8 (x8) lanes. On some boards several slots share the lanes.
Unlike PCI, with its bus structure, where all connected components must share the available bandwidth, PCI Express uses serial connections to a switch located in the chipset.
The switch connects a PCIe board directly to memory or other boards with full bandwidth and speed.
At the logical level, PCIe is fully compatible with the old PCI.
The operating system does not notice any difference. Even in the Windows device manager not much is visible of PCIe.
So instead of parallel bus systems, serial point-to-point connections are used. Even with Ethernet, the old bus topology was replaced by a star topology.
A central switch connects two devices directly with each other.
The reasons for the changeover from the proven bus structure to serial point-to-point connections are the huge number of address and signal lines.
The increasing number of signal lines on the motherboard requires a lot of space, combined with high power consumption.
Also, the transmission speed cannot be increased at will because the parallel lines influence each other (crosstalk).
The transmission technology of PCI Express is based on two differential pairs of wires (4 wires) each, which are called link or lane.
One pair of wires is used for data transmission, the other for data reception.
To increase the speed, a device may use several lanes. In total, up to 32 lanes can be bundled.
In practice, however, it looks like simple expansion cards only have one lane.
Exceptions are graphics card slots, which are called PEG (PCI Express for Graphics). There are 16 lanes available.
However, the parallelization of the data is not done on the electrical, but on a higher protocol level. Here, runtime differences, line disturbances and failures are also compensated.
The transfer speed with PCIe “orients” itself on the version and the number of links or lanes.
The higher the version and the more lanes, the higher the bandwidth and the higher the transfer speed.
The bandwidth indicates how much capacity is theoretically or maximally available for data transfer.
However, the actual data rate is lower.
|PCIe x1||PCIe x4||PCIe x8||PCIe x16||Coding|
(Load in %)
|1.0||2,5 GBit/s||250 MByte/s||1 GByte/s||2 GByte/s||4 GByte/s||8b10b / 20%|
|2.0||5 GBit/s||500 MByte/s||2 GByte/s||4 GByte/s||8 GByte/s||8b10b / 20%|
|3.0||8 GBit/s||ca. 1 GByte/s||ca. 4 GByte/s||ca. 8 GByte/s||ca. 16 GByte/s||128b/130b / <2%|
|4.0||16 GBit/s||ca. 2 GByte/s||ca. 8 GByte/s||ca. 16 GByte/s||ca. 32 GByte/s||128b/130b / <2%|
|5.0||3,9 GByte/s||15,8 GByte/s||31,5 GByte/s||63 GByte/s||128b/130b / <2%|
If one assumes a bandwidth of 5 GBit/s per lane for PCIe 2.0, then the bandwidth is reduced to 4 GBit/s due to the 8B/10B coding (10 bits per byte).
This corresponds to a net bandwidth of 500 MByte/s per direction. The actual data rate is then even lower.
This is because, in addition to pure data transmission, a transmission protocol with commands, addressing and confirmations is also active that uses part of the bandwidth, which is why the actual data rate is even lower than the net bandwidth.
PCI Express graphics card compatibility
PCIe is fully upward and downward compatible.
This means old cards fit into new motherboards and vice versa. An x1 card will also work in an x16 slot and vice versa. Provided it fits mechanically.
To ensure compatibility, the PCIe host controller negotiates the number of lanes and their transfer rate when initializing the expansion cards.
|Card/Slot||PCIe x1||PCIe x4||PCIe x8||PCIe x16|
|PCI Express x1||Ok||Ok||Ok||Ok|
|PCI Express x4||–||Ok||?||?|
|PCI Express x8||–||–||Ok||?|
|PCI Express x16||–||–||–||Ok|
Note: Basically, the PCIe standard provides for backward compatibility. However, this does not mean that all products comply with it.
PCI Express 1.0/1.1 (PCIe 1.0)
There is virtually no difference between PCIe-1.0 and PCIe-1.1. The speed per lane is fixed at 2.5 GBit/s, which corresponds to a net bandwidth of 250 MByte/s.
PCI Express 2.0/2.1 (PCIe 2.0)
The speed has been increased to 5 GBit/s per lane. In the best case, a net transfer rate of 500 MByte/s is achieved.
PCIe 2.0 is downward compatible to PCIe 1.0/1.1. But be careful, PCIe 1.1 cards should work in PCIe 2.0 slots. If problems occur, a BIOS update may help.
There is a special feature in the PCIe 2.0 specification. It specifies that PCIe 2.0 cards must also work in PCIe 1.1 slots. There is no structural difference.
The main difference between PCIe 2.0 and the older version is the maximum possible transfer rate. PCIe 1.1 works with 2.5 GBit/s per lane.
PCI Express 3.0/3.1 (PCIe 3.0)
Thanks to the reduction of overhead during data transfer and a more efficient line code, the transfer rate has again been doubled compared to PCIe 2.0.
This means that each PCIe lane has a bandwidth of 8 GBit/s and transfers 1 GByte/s.
There are not many applications that exploit PCIe 3.0.
Except for graphics cards, PCIe 3.0 is only useful for a few expansion cards. Most likely still for 40 Gigabit Ethernet cards or host adapters for server mass storage.
With PCIe 3.0 graphics cards can communicate with the chipset or processor via 16 lanes with up to 16 GByte/s.
However, the speed of PCIe 2.0 can already become scarce if PCIe is the central bus system between processor and chipset.
If the connection between CPU and chipset only supports 2 GByte/s in both directions (PCIe-2.0-x4), PCIe 3.0 is only available for external graphics cards, which are then connected directly to the main processor.
In highly integrated processors from Intel and AMD, the PCIe root complex already ends or begins in the processor.
For the future there is no way around PCIe 3.0. Furthermore, PCIe will replace SATA as a mass storage interface.
The PCIe lane concept is clearly superior to SATA. The PCIe lanes can be scaled more easily.
PCI Express 4.0 (PCIe 4.0)
The PCI Special Interest Group (PCI-SIG) completed the specification of PCIe 4.0 in 2017.
Compared to PCIe 3.0, the data transfer rate doubles to 16 GBit/s and allows a maximum net data rate of around 2 GByte/s per lane.
PCIe-4.0-x16 then manages almost 32 GByte/s.
However, the need for faster PCIe connections is not determined by the CPU and GPU manufacturers, but by the storage and network industry.
Here PCIe 3.0 with 16 parallel PCIe lanes comes to the limit for network cards beyond the 100 GBit class.
And NVMe SSDs in the enterprise sector are limited to four parallel PCIe lanes by their m.2 or u.2 ports.
More bandwidth is only possible by increasing the transfer rate per lane.
To enable this transfer rate, the maximum line length shrinks from 20 to 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm).
New materials for tracks and contacts are also required to maintain the signal quality for this speed.
PCIe 4.0 also only achieves its maximum data rate when there is a maximum of one connector in the cable path (point-to-point connection).
As expected, PCIe 4.0 should continue to be backward compatible with older PCIe cards.
Normal PC users will rarely have to deal with PCIe 4.0 devices, because the higher speed is more interesting for professional users.
PCI Express 5.0 (PCIe 5.0)
Because the demand for more speed will continue to increase in the future, the PCI-SIG for PCIe 5.0 again promises a doubling of bandwidth to around 32 GBit/s and thus around 4 GByte/s per PCIe lane.
However, this can probably only be achieved if the chips involved are soldered on the same board.