Ask the Doctor: A Bandwidth Battle


I built my computer about a month ago—it’s nothing special. I’m running an Intel Pentium D 820 on an Asus P5W DH Deluxe motherboard. For a videocard, I’m rocking a BFG 9800 GTX.

I stumbled upon the System Information at the bottom-left corner of the Nvidia Control Panel recently. When I clicked it, I took note of the plethora of information on the 9800 GTX. What caught my eye was the very last line: BUS: PCI Express x4. That seems off, given that my card uses an x16 interface. What gives?

—Juan Campos

You neglected to insert a key piece of information that would help the Doctor easily diagnose your problem. Are you using the top orange PCI Express slot or the bottom black slot? If it’s the latter, the Doctor has frequently found that this slot will be physically x16-compatible, but it will actually run at a lower setting. Still, it’s strange that your System Information panel is reporting this as an x4 slot: That’s lower than the Doc would expect, even if you were using the incorrect slot.

Try reseating your 9800 GTX into your motherboard’s orange PCI Express slot. If the problem still isn’t corrected—or if your card has been in this slot all along—you’ll want to triple-check that you’ve firmly inserted the card into the PCI Express connector. If you’re still receiving the same x4 information after that, update your motherboard’s BIOS. It’s possible that some form of communication error between the mobo and Nvidia’s application is causing the confusion.

SUBMIT YOUR QUESTION Are flames shooting out of the back of your rig? First, grab a fire extinguisher and douse the flames. Once the pyrotechnic display has fizzled, email the doctor at for advice on how to solve your technological woes.


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