How to fix an NVIDIA Geforce 9800GT in the Oven
A few days ago my PNY 9800GT started playing up I was getting weird green artefacts on boot screen and strange lines up and down my screen. The problem started after a game crashed(unfortunately it was during an epic battle in Sins of a Solar Empire!) and I realised through investigation that the card was generating a code 43 error – you can check your error codes through Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Computer Management > Event Viewer. I researched this error and found out it was a hardware error, so the Nvidia drivers were not to blame. I tried to eliminate the easy stuff first and re-installed all Nvidia drivers from scratch, this didn’t work so I tried flashing the BIOS – none of this worked and I thought my beloved 9800gt was completely dead :(.
After a day or two of researching this problem I came across a strange solution that involved baking the 9800gt graphic card in the oven! It sounded completely crazy. I was very sceptical at first and didn’t know if this was an urban myth or not but I was at a dead end – my expensive graphics card(well it used to be!) was dead. So I thought what the hell why not give it a try
I’ve written a brief outline of how to go about baking your Nvidia 9800gt graphics card in the oven below, but be warned only do this if you have no other option, it is a temporary fix. It worked on my 9800gt 2 times which extended it’s lifespan by around 3 months and then completely died (bad VRAM). So I take no responsibility if you fry your card!
This is the card after taking it out of the computer, it is the 6-pin NVIDIA 9800GT version from PNY(Cheap, I know!):
The first thing you have to do is undo the screws on the underneath preferably with a philips screwdriver or a magnetic one and remove the 9800GT heatsink and plastic housing – I know some Nvidia cards don’t have these, it’s pretty easy:
The next step is to remove all the rubber riser heatpads (located on each of the black areas) also remove the thermal paste if you have any on the GPU with some paper towels although remember to put new paste on after baking it. Sometimes you may find on your card that the small rubber heatpads on the memory blocks have melted. Remove them as best you can:
Next step is to put the card in the oven! Before you do preheat the oven fully to 200 Celsius. Make a layer of aluminium foil on a baking tray to place the card on and create 4 small balls of aluminium foil around 4/5cm high and place the graphics card face down so the GPU is facing down but raised by the aluminium foil balls like below. Make sure the card is level and not at an angle. (Disclaimer: I do not take responsibility for your card being destroyed! Only do this if you have no other option!):
People that I have talked to assume that the card will melt in the oven because it is plastic, I can tell you from experience nothing will melt if you follow the exact temperature and time requirements. The corners on my card seemed a little blackened, but definitely not melted!
Leave it in the oven for 8 minutes precisely (do not leave the room, stay around in case something blows up or goes on fire!). Once the 8 minutes are up, open the oven door and leave to cool for 30 minutes to 1 hour. I put my card back into my computer after 30 minutes, started up my computer and was astounded that it had worked!
Before baking my Nvidia 9800GT it had been running really hot, the fan had been spinning out of control very noisily and had failed causing green artefacts all over the screen. 8 minutes in the oven at 200 celsius has renewed it’s life!
After baking it in the oven the card ran fine playing intensive games for around 2-3 months and then the problem came back. I put it in the oven again and it worked again for a further month. Then catastrophe struck and the 9800gt’s VRAM completely failed. To be honest I think this card was on it’s last legs the first time I baked it as it was already 3 years old. I still love Nvidia 9800gt’s and rate them highly even though they are (by today’s standards) old graphics cards. I bought another newer 9800gt and it’s doing fine, but if your card has failed and you have no other option then I would recommend giving this a try before buying a new card.
If you want to more about the process in how this method works check out wikipedia, this is roughly why the card would start working again, it’s to do with micro-fractures on the board and melting the solder back into place. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reflow_soldering.
I posted this in the hope that someone having the same artefacting problems has the confidence to try this method to fix their 9800GT in the oven. Although it is only a temporary solution my card worked perfectly for 2 months after baking it and then started artefacting again. Another go in the oven fixed it again, but only lasted another month. I now have another NVIDIA 9800gt which is much better, but at least I kept the old 9800gt going for 3-4 months when I thought it was dead!
Disclaimer: I do not guarantee this method will work for you. I am in no way responsible if you destroy your graphics card using this technique. I only list this method as a last resort for those looking to experiment/fix their graphics card. I also do not know if this will work with other graphics cards as I have not tried, but I know it works with Nvidia 9800gt’s!