Remember how all those RTX 3090 graphics cards suddenly died while running Amazon’s New World beta? EVGA, manufacturers of the seemingly most affected models, claim to have found the true culprit: iffy soldering. Specifically on a small number of RTX 3090 cards from early in EVGA’s production run.
The partner card specialists investigated around two dozen of the bricked RTX 3090s that affected owners had returned under warranty, and reported their findings to PC World. X-ray exams revealed what EVGA called “poor workmanship” on the now-deceased cards, referring to sub-par soldering work around each unit’s MOSFET circuits. These tiny components form part of a GPU’s voltage regulation system, and since improper power usage is one of the most reliable ways to kill PC components…yep, that sounds a very feasible prelude to a good bricking.
Most EVGA RTX 3090 owners don’t need to worry about having an expensive time bomb in their rigs, as a spokesperson also told PC World the soldering issue affects “significantly less than 1 percent” of the total, and is limited to an earlier 2020 production run. I'm told by one RPS reader that EVGA's customer service can't advise on whether individual cards were part of the potential bad batch, so you may need to attempt a standard return if you don't want to just chance it.
It’s probably, marginally preferable to know that the cause of such a catastrophic hardware failure is a very specific kind of hardware itself; the alternative is that one of the biggest companies on Earth was releasing software that casually murdererd £1400-plus PC kit.
Previous speculation pointed fingers at a couple of alternative causes, one of which was the New World beta’s uncapped framerate; this could see frame rates, particularly on the main menu screen, instantly lurch from double figures to around 800fps. This could put sudden, massive load on the graphics card, hence concern over whether it could be terminally damaging them. The fact that reported cases dropped after Amazon added a frame rate limiter didn’t help New World’s case, though it does seem hardware production errors were the real factor.
While copping to the solder problem, EVGA did deny another charge that their cooling was to blame. Third-party hardware monitors like GPU-Z and HWiNFO were allegedly presenting readings that suggested EVGA’s fan controllers were faulty, leading to fatal overheating when New World’s frame rate suddenly lept upwards. EVGA now says this was the result of a glitch in how the fan controller reports data, not in how it keeps GPUs cool, and subsequent software patches show the everything working normally.
Case closed, then. New World, for its part, is holding an open beta on September 9th, ahead of launching proper on September 28th. The RTX 3090 never made it onto our best graphics card list but can hopefully now look forward to a less breakable, more attentively-soldered future.