Do I have any options to use all three of my PCIe cards without holding back my GPU?

Cyber Akuma

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I am considering building a PC with a gigabyte z490 aorus pro ax board and a Noctua NH-D15 cooler, I already have the CPU on the way and was trying to finalize the board and cooler.

The problem is that this board seems to be lacking a third PCIeX1 port that many previous boards had, and because of that it could impact my GPU.

Currently I have three cards I want to use, from a previous dead build. My GPU (for now it's a GTX 1070, I know that won't bottleneck much, but I want to upgrade to RTX in the future and that can), a Soundcard that is PCIEx1, and a RAID card that is PCIEx8.

The problem is that my cooler will block the top PCIEx1 port because it is so big, and the other PCIEx1 port will be similarly blocked by the GPU. (I swear, WHY do they put these ports right under where the GPU would go and leave other parts of the board empty?). This just leaves me with a PCIex16 port, which is obviously where my GPU will go, and two PCIEx8 ports. The problem is if the second PCIEx8 port is populated, the PCIEx16 port will operate in PCIEx8 mode.

So far, it feels like my options are to either use a smaller cooler so the top PCIeX1 port is free (though it would be a tight fit right above the GPU), forfeit the Sound card, or use a riser to move it to one of the bottom two ports on my case that are below the motherboard (though that has the added annoyance of my sound ports being all the way at the bottom of the case... and I am not sure how stable a riser would be). But I want to see if I have any other options.
 

Cyber Akuma

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I am worried the impact will be greater with newer cards, Impact on my 1070 is nothing, impact on the 3080 can be over 10fps on some games, but by the time I have time money to upgrade we could be past 3000 and the impact could be greater, especially if I am on a PCIe 3.0 CPU and PCIe 4.0 becomes more common.
 

pendragon1

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I am worried the impact will be greater with newer cards, Impact on my 1070 is nothing, impact on the 3080 can be over 10fps on some games, but by the time I have time money to upgrade we could be past 3000 and the impact could be greater, especially if I am on a PCIe 3.0 CPU and PCIe 4.0 becomes more common.
its such a small difference you will only notice if you look for it with benchmarks. there have been plenty of threads about this. if youre really worried, go amd since it has 4.0.
 

Cyber Akuma

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CPU is already ordered, I needed an Intel chipset to recover some things and also because it was actually cheaper from where I got it.

Though that board claims it can support 4.0 if I put a 11th gen CPU in it, but that remains to be seen if they will deliver on that promise.

But like I said, the impact on GPUs later down the line could be worse, so I would like to know what possible options I have right now to try to mitigate this.
 

pendragon1

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But like I said, the impact on GPUs later down the line could be worse, so I would like to know what possible options I have right now to try to mitigate this.
chances are you wont even notice it, unless you look for it. do a search in the forum if you dont believe it. nothing short of ensuring you have 4.0 now.
 

Dan_D

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I've run an RTX 3090 FE at x8, x16 in PCIe 3.0 and with x16 lanes in PCIe 4.0. There was no difference at all in any of the games I tried. Granted, that's a somewhat limited scope of games at 4K, but I saw no differences what so ever using all of those configurations.

Beyond that, the answer to the OP's question is "no." Z490 does not have the lane count to do what he's asking. For one thing, the second PCIe x16 slot will always divide the lanes going to the CPU. That's just the way it works. You'll end up at x8/x8 no matter what.
 

D-EJ915

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With Z490 platform if you have a 2nd x8 card your graphics card will always run at x8 as it only has 16 lanes for both x16 slots from the CPU. Only way around this would be to get the supermicro board with a PLX chip on it.
 

Cyber Akuma

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I've run an RTX 3090 FE at x8, x16 in PCIe 3.0 and with x16 lanes in PCIe 4.0. There was no difference at all in any of the games I tried. Granted, that's a somewhat limited scope of games at 4K, but I saw no differences what so ever using all of those configurations.

Beyond that, the answer to the OP's question is "no." Z490 does not have the lane count to do what he's asking. For one thing, the second PCIe x16 slot will always divide the lanes going to the CPU. That's just the way it works. You'll end up at x8/x8 no matter what.
Yeah, the main issue is that the board has only two PCIeX1 slots, and both are inaccessible. The top one because of my cooler unless I get a smaller one, and the second one because of my GPU clearance. Most previous boards like this tended to have three PCIeX1 lanes and I would use the third as the soundcard is also only PCIeX1, but this one is lacking that third one.
 

Denpepe

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Use the bottom X16 slot for your soundcard, it's a 4x running trough the chipset, should be fine for a soundcard I think.
 

Cyber Akuma

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The bottom X16 slot I need for the RAID card, the soundcard is PCIeX1, but the RAID card is PCIeX8.
 

TheSlySyl

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Cyber Akuma

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I have an older case, a Cooler Master HAF X, it's a full tower designed to fit up to E-ATX boards, so there are two extra unused slots on the bottom beyond the board. I just wonder if risers are reliable/safe. I recall reading about poor/unshielded ones causing all sorts of headaches.
 

TheSlySyl

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I have an older case, a Cooler Master HAF X, it's a full tower designed to fit up to E-ATX boards, so there are two extra unused slots on the bottom beyond the board. I just wonder if risers are reliable/safe. I recall reading about poor/unshielded ones causing all sorts of headaches.
I'd say that given the cost of the riser, its a gamble worth attempting. Go for a slightly better model if you're worried about shielding.
 

noko

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I have an older case, a Cooler Master HAF X, it's a full tower designed to fit up to E-ATX boards, so there are two extra unused slots on the bottom beyond the board. I just wonder if risers are reliable/safe. I recall reading about poor/unshielded ones causing all sorts of headaches.
A good riser cable supports GPUs at max load, a sound card should be a walk in the park for traffic. I would just look at reviews and pick out a decent one. That is the trick with todays pcie layouts, using risers with the fatter cards etc. becomes necessary if you want to use those pcie slots and if your case can support it.
 

Cyber Akuma

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I'd say that given the cost of the riser, its a gamble worth attempting. Go for a slightly better model if you're worried about shielding.
I am worried that a cheap riser could cause all sorts of hard-to-diagnose BSODs or even cause a short/damage.

A good riser cable supports GPUs at max load, a sound card should be a walk in the park for traffic. I would just look at reviews and pick out a decent one. That is the trick with todays pcie layouts, using risers with the fatter cards etc. becomes necessary if you want to use those pcie slots and if your case can support it.
Yeah, I was trying to lookup reviews just now. Issue is almost all the reviews are of x16 cables. I understand, most people are likely rising GPUs for extreme SLI/Crossfire or mining, but almost no work seems to have been put into reviewing x1 risers.

The bottom x16 slot only works at x4 and your raid card requires x8

My raid card does not require x8, it can work in x4. I have been using it in a x16 slot that only runs at x4 in my previous system for 8 years (bottom slot of an Asus P8Z77-V Deluxe board). The card only has four 7200RPM drives connected to it, I am not running it anywhere even close to it's capacity.
 

noko

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I am worried that a cheap riser could cause all sorts of hard-to-diagnose BSODs or even cause a short/damage.


Yeah, I was trying to lookup reviews just now. Issue is almost all the reviews are of x16 cables. I understand, most people are likely rising GPUs for extreme SLI/Crossfire or mining, but almost no work seems to have been put into reviewing x1 risers.



My raid card does not require x8, it can work in x4. I have been using it in a x16 slot that only runs at x4 in my previous system for 8 years (bottom slot of an Asus P8Z77-V Deluxe board). The card only has four 7200RPM drives connected to it, I am not running it anywhere even close to it's capacity.
Look at the mining riser cables, they work great for video cards, have several of them. Many miners use 6 or more of them depending on the motherboard for mining rigs. You can use a riser cable with more than x1, sound card would work just the same as a note. In other words your not limited to x1 riser cables.
 

pitingres

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As others have said, I don't think you really have a problem ... but what about dropping the raid card and running software raid, particularly if those drives aren't super busy?
I'm not familiar with software raid on Windows but surely it's possible?
 

Cyber Akuma

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Dropping the raid card is definitely not an option, I would rather drop the soundcard instead if I had to.
 

mda

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PCIE4 with Rocket lake should solve some of your problems... return the CPU? hehe
 

Cyber Akuma

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Har Har :p

.... (I do want to see when the 11700K comes out how much I could get for my 10700K, at least Intel cpus keep their value)
 

S_I_N_ecof

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Dropping the raid card is definitely not an option, I would rather drop the soundcard instead if I had to.
then drop the sound card and use onboard with a dac. I havent used a dedicated sound card in ages onboard does everything I need it to.
 

pitingres

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Dropping the raid card is definitely not an option, I would rather drop the soundcard instead if I had to.

Well, that's definitely an option. If you want top sound output, you probably want an outboard USB DAC anyway.
 

Cyber Akuma

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Also had the NH-D15S recommended to me, which is apparently an offset version of the D15 that mounts a little higher specifically for PCIe clearance, though I am not 100% certain if it will be enough.

Anyone have any experience with the S version of the D15?
 

Cyber Akuma

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I was looking at riser cards as an option, though I am worried as poor quality ones can cause all sorts of issues or even shorts. And it was hard to find information on which X1 risers are any good because the only reviews and research seems to have been in x16 risers for multi-GPU setups.

Though, I would need one that's much longer than that if I were to use a riser. If I were to use a riser I would need to extent it past the bottom of the motherboard (the case has two PCI slots that extend past an ATX board, as it can also fit EATX boards), as well as past the RAID card that would be plugged into the PCIeX4 slot that's below the PCIex1 slot. I can't use anything in-between because the M.2 ports are in the way.
 

zandor

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I only know of 2 LGA1200 boards that can take a 16x and an 8x PCIe card -- Supermicro C9Z490-PG and Supermicro C9Z490-PGW. They use some sort of multiplexer chip to plug 2 16x slots into 16 lanes from the CPU. It can also split 8/8/8/8. I have no idea how well this works. I briefly looked at them (and looked at Threadripper 3xxx prices and a ton of AM4 boards) before deciding to go X299 for the PCIe lanes. Supermicro is great for workstations and servers, but they've gotten into desktop boards more recently. I couldn't find much info on what that multiplexer chip does to performance or reviews on them in general. I also couldn't figure out if it would be able to run 16/0/8.8, which is what I wanted.
 

lopoetve

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It’s a PLX chip. They used to be more common; super micro announced a z590 board with one just yesterday or so.
 
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