The time has come for me to upgrade from my nVidia GTS250 graphics card to a newer and better one.

I'd like to go for the GTX 960 or 970 (4gb) series since I want to keep the card for the next 3-5 years.

The rig I'm using now is old (bought 2010) and has the Asus P755H-V motherboard which supports PCIex16 2.0. The GTX cards are for PCIe 3.0 slots but I've read that they are also backwards compatible.

Is it a big performance hit?
Also is it compatible with the rest of the components?

Asus P7H55-V + Intel i5-750 (2.66GHz) + 650W PSU

I compared the power consumption of the GTX970 against my GTS250 and they are at about 150W so there should be no problem there.

I'm also planning on upgrading the rest of the components in the future but right now I can't upgrade the mobo because I'll have to upgrade the CPU too (due to socket restrictions) and I don't want to fork an extra 300$ right now.

Is this a good buy?
Is there anything I should be aware of?

  • 3
    If you can, wait for the next gen graphics cards. nVidia is going to announce their pascal line on April 5th, and possibly release the cards in June. Please note that these are just rumors and may not actually happen on the days I have stated. Even if you do not get a next gen card, the current gen's price should be lowered by a substantial amount. source
    – Cfinley
    Apr 1, 2016 at 19:47
  • If the next gen cards come out at the end of the year it's just to long of a wait
    – PentaKon
    Apr 2, 2016 at 8:21
  • I have read dozens of gaming reviews, and the difference between pcie3 and 2 at the x16 size is negligible. Technically, the 3.0 slot can handle 2x the amount of data, but almost no software uses that much bandwidth. Currently even games that do use more bandwidth do so 1% of the time.
    – cybernard
    Apr 23, 2016 at 3:34

2 Answers 2


My friend did a very similar thing, but with PCIe 2 put into PCIe 1 slot. The only thing you will see is that the card won't perform as it should - PCIe 2 is almost 40% slower than PCIe 3. As @Mark stated in the comments this difference is between PCI express verions itself, not for the performance of a specific GPU and also depends on the workload.

That said I believe the wait for next generation won't be to the end of the year - for nVidia Pascal it looks like it will be unveiled this month and for Radeon Rx400 Wikipedia says around this summer. All in all I believe the wait for new GPUs to hit the market in quanitites is at most half a year.

Also, that 10x claim for Pascals vs Maxwell is only in specific usages (such as neural networks), but it still will be way faster.

  • 40%??? They told me it is at most 10-15%
    – PentaKon
    Apr 2, 2016 at 17:13
  • 1
    The performance hit from putting a PCIe3 card in a PCIe2 slot depends on which card it is and what you're doing with it. 40% is the worst-case scenario, where you use a high-performance card and transfer enormous volumes of data between it and the mainboard. If you're using a low-end card, or are doing computation-heavy work, you might not notice anything.
    – Mark
    Apr 2, 2016 at 17:40
  • @Mark editted my answer.
    – jaskij
    Apr 2, 2016 at 18:00

Not really 'current' hardware but hothardware tested this roughly 3 generations ago (and that's pci-e 3.0 era hardware I believe) on a core 2 duo. And the results were pretty darned dramatic. Graphics performance was roughly 50% better. And well, modern cards still do not typically saturate a PCIe 2.0 connection, especially on the mid range. Consider this. PCIe 3.0 is about twice as fast as PCIe 2.0, and you'd be using your cards at x8 in SLI, so clearly, x8 speeds on PCIe 3.0 (aka x16 speeds in PCIe 2.0) should be enough.

Yeah, you can wait for the next generation but a 960 actually feels like a compelling upgrade if you need to upgrade now. You can always use it as a dedicated phyx card should you choose to get a pascal, and well, in addition to the wait, we don't actually know if the next gen pascal and polaris chips actually live up to the hype. Nonetheless if you choose to wait, those cards ought to drop in and work as well as long as they're PCIe.

I don't think the performance drop would be that bad, and in a scenario where you're gradually building up a system, this would make a ton of sense.

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