Graphics card that came back from the dead

by Rich on May 3, 2010

Having had a Game voucher in my wallet for nearly 2 years I finally decided it was time to have a browse. You may ask why on earth have I not used it in that time.  It’s mainly due to the fact that my old pc was showing it’s age, barely able to run any of the latest games.  It was retired to browsing the net and running that glorified database also known as Football Manager; which I’m hopelessly addicted too.  As luck would have it I was able to score a new PC, AMD Dual core 2.6 with 4GB of RAM, a 512MB Nvidia 7 series GFX Card and Windows 7.  All should be rosy for gaming again, right?  Wrong.

While browsing to find something to burn this voucher on, I spotted a blast from the past.  Having spent a lot of my pre Xbox years on my PC playing the Battlefield series I thought why not get Battlefield Bad Company 2.  I checked the recommended specs and my new PC seemed capable of running it, although maybe on a lower graphics setting.

Installation went to plan and I was in and playing on the single player portion of the game.  It looked nice but had some frame rate issues.  Then I was greeted with a black screen.  Odd.  Rebooted and reloaded the game and sure enough, after a little while, black screen again.  Depressing!  Reinstalled the game and still the same problem.  After digging around on forums it turned out that there were quite a few people having issues with the same breed of card, it just wasn’t powerful enough for the game.

Back to Football Manager?  Not so.

I remembered that I had a knackered GeForce 8800 GTX sitting in my desk draw.  If I could get this bad boy working, Bad Company 2 would run like a dream.  I checked the board over and there was no sign of blown or burnt out components.  That lead me to the theory that it was a bad solder connection that may have stopped the the card from working.  These beasts can run really hot and this can sometimes, in very rare cases, cause a bad soldering joint to loosen and break contact.  I browsed on numerous forums looking of ways to fix this card and stumbled upon an article saying you can put your card in the oven to fix it.

With nothing to lose, I fired up the oven to 150 degrees celcius

Has this Nvidia card no shame!

I stripped the card down to the board.  Had to remove everything that would melt in the oven and needed to expose as much of the board as I could.  I lined a baking tray with foil, rolled up four balls of foil and placed the card on the tray, sitting on the balls of foil so the heat would get under it.

It cooked for around 9 minutes and then I left it to cool.  I carefully reapplied some thermal paste, resat the heat sink/cooler unit and was ready to rock.  I popped it in my PC and crossed my fingers.

It worked a treat!  Was up and running in all its GFX glory.  The best thing about it was that Bad Company 2 ran smoothly and I was able to play at a nice frame rate on a decent graphics setting.

So, I hope you don’t just throw out any dead graphics cards in future.  They may just need 10 minutes in the oven to fix them.  The forum link below shows that it will work with most soldered pcb  boards like a laptop main board that is demonstrated in the post.

Happy baking!

Forum post with the guide:  http://hardforum.com/showpost.php?p=1034145333&postcount=1


Thanks to guest writer Anthony Robey and his culinary skills for this article

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May 4, 2010 at 3:12 pm

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Samer May 3, 2010 at 2:11 pm

I actually did the same oven trick on my 8800m GTX in my SAger 17 inch gaming laptop. The screen wouldn’t turn on, and if it did, it would crash every 5 minutes. Putting the entire card, minus the heatsink, into the oven following a set of directions I found online, and it worked!

I am typing this on that laptop now!
Here are some pics of the operation:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/hamadphotography/4574969640/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/hamadphotography/4574335699/

Sassy cat May 3, 2010 at 9:04 pm

If you get a BFG nvidia card they have a life time warenty, just mail it in for a fresh one any time. Neat story tough.

KA May 4, 2010 at 8:18 am

It’s more likely that taking it apart, cleaning it, and putting it back together is what fixed it, not a bad solder joint. Wave soldering usually happens at 200+ degrees Celsius, and I’d be very surprised if you even activated the flux let alone the solder.

Jordan May 4, 2010 at 8:22 am

O_O

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