One of the greatest joys of building a gaming PC is installing your brand new graphics card – the device that shows a display on your screen and lets you run games at higher resolutions and best settings. Just like all other desktop components, these cards are also guilty of not being a problem until you find them.
Sometimes GPUs (Graphical Processing Units) tend to run at slower speeds (8x or less), right out of the box. This could be due to various reasons, such as motherboard issues, faulty graphics processor, or even issues with the PCIe lanes of your processor. So we’ve listed a number of troubleshooting techniques below to help you resolve speed issues with your new graphics card.
How to check if your graphics card is running at the desired speeds?
Using a free downloadable software called GPU-Z, one can check the specs or other details like its validation, memory clock, and temperatures. Now if you go to the Bus Interface section, you will be able to see the details regarding the interface and bandwidth.
Here if you see the value “PCIe x16 3.0 @ x16” then everything is working as expected. Otherwise, you might end up seeing an “x8” at the end, which is half the speed. Most modern GPUs tend to set speeds as low as possible under light loads. So, we could perform a stress test to check if the value increases under increased loads.
This can be done by clicking on the question mark (?) Icon right next to it, which opens a test render on a separate window, bringing GPU usage to 99 or 100%. During this process, if the value changes to “x16”, you are good. Otherwise, you have to find the cause of the problem.
Verify GPU installation
The first thing to do would be to check if the GPU is installed on the highest PCI-E x16 slot. Since most modern motherboards come with multiple PCI-E slots, the first one operates at maximum bandwidth, which is 16x. The second slot, however, only works at 8x speed.
Sometimes the simpler things like dust particles or leftover warranty stickers can cause this problem to occur. Reinstalling the GPU after cleaning the connector contacts with isopropyl alcohol or an eraser is a great way to get rid of dirt and some of the carbon. It is also advisable to make sure that the motherboard slot is clean, which can be achieved by blowing compressed air.
If your GPU requires external power connectors, make sure they are plugged in properly. Normally, if the 6 or 8 pin PCIe connector is not fully plugged in or is defective, the computer will refuse to start. However, there are cases where the GPU will still run but run at relatively lower speeds.
Shared PCI-E lanes
An NVMe SSD installed in your computer could consume some of the processor PCIe lanes, making your card run at 8x speed instead of 16x. Unless your operating system is installed on the NVMe SSD, which is the case in most cases, you can try removing it from the motherboard and check if the problem persists. If not, it is most likely due to other expansion cards such as a sound card, network card, or internal capture card.
APU coupled to a GPU
If you have an APU (CPU with Integrated Display) paired with a GPU, you are very likely to experience this problem. Most low-end APUs have fewer PCIe lanes than CPUs. If we take AMD’s Ryzen 3 2200g or a Ryzen 5 2400g with Vega graphics as an example, you’ll notice that they only have 12 PCIe lanes. 8 of which are reserved for the graphics card, while the remaining 4 are for storage (NVMe SSD).
Now if you compare that to a screenless processor like AMD’s Ryzen 5 1600 or a Ryzen 5 2600, you’ll notice that they have 20 PCIe lanes. Of which 16 are reserved for the discrete graphics card, while the remaining 4 lanes are reserved for storage. So the only way for a low-end APU owner to get full speed (x16) is to get a new, more powerful processor.
Even then, in most cases, this problem only exists if you pair an NVIDIA card with an AMD APU. Pairing an AMD card with an AMD APU should not bring up this problem. The AMD to AMD pairing will take advantage of an 8x + 8x GPU configuration, resulting in a total speed of 16x.
Intel processors, on the other hand, do not consume PCIe lanes when active. So it doesn’t matter if it’s paired with an NVIDIA or AMD GPU. As long as it is installed on the highest location, it should run at 16x speed.
Disable USB 3.0 Turbo
The Turbo feature consumes the PCIe lanes of the processor at the expense of further increasing USB 3.0 speed. This consumption could then result in slower GPU speeds. The feature is available on most older Gigabyte motherboards and can be disabled through BIOS, in the Integrated Device section.
Finally, you can try to update the motherboard BIOS. Using a USB drive, you can download the latest bios from your motherboard manufacturer’s website and safely boot to your PC to install it. There are many benefits to updating the BIOS as well, including security fixes and support for newer hardware. Just make sure that you are not losing power or connecting to an inverter during the update process. A loss of power halfway could lead to hard bricks forming on your motherboard.
If none of the above methods work, it could mean that your motherboard or graphics card itself is faulty. And even then the difference in speed is not so noticeable. If your system’s PCIe generation is 3.0 or higher, the performance difference between an x8 configuration and an x16 configuration is only 1-2% at most. This, too, when viewed at 1440p in games. Even a high-end graphics card such as an RTX 3080 failed to saturate the entire x8 channel. A Titan V, however, can do it, albeit barely.