Imagine this. You’ve just forked out on a flash new RTX 3090 Founders Edition GPU — a card that’s not even available in Australia anymore. You plug the card in, boot everything up and … wait, why is my super-expensive GPU running at 110 degrees Celsius?
This sort of thing is pretty rare, but it does happen. Igor’s Lab reported earlier this month how a user received an AMD Radeon 6700 XT with all the coverings for the thermal pads still installed. They’re basically small bits of plastic or tape that are supposed to be removed before the GPUs are shipped to users.
And after rolling the dice and taking his GPU apart to replace the thermal pads, antonyjeweet discovered an unwelcome surprise: a finger glove, hidden inside the thermal pads:
“Now I know why my memory temps easily hit 110c very very fast. Now they stay at 86c max after 1.5 [hours] of stress testing. Also the core dropped 10c (from 75 to +/-65c after stress testing),” they wrote.
Interestingly, Nvidia at first followed procedure. They refused to honour the card’s warranty because antonyjeweet had taken the GPU apart, which is all pretty standard. However, after discovering someone in the Founders Edition assembly chain had left the little plastic surprise behind, they’ve agreed to help out antonyjeweet if they want it.
“Nvidia told me at first I lost my warranty. But after seeing this they said we will give you warranty (got that on mail). No swap or anything. If it works fine just keep it, if not, contact us and we will fix it,” the Netherlands-based user wrote.
If you’re wondering how something like this even happens, the real answer is there’s a global chip shortage. Customers usually don’t care too much about the how’s and why’s, only that they get supply of their flash new consoles, CPUs, GPUs and everything else as soon as possible. That pressure and crushing demand often results in crippling conditions for those working on the factory floor. One factory in Vietnam that’s part of the Samsung and Apple supply chain has around 150,000 workers living at the factory full time, while another major Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturer forced some migrants back into shared accommodation despite the intensity of that country’s COVID wave.
On the bright side, everything worked out fine in this instance. But it’s a reminder to everyone that luxury consumer tech isn’t always going to work as advertised. If you’re going to drop thousands for real-time ray-tracing and all the bells and whistles at 4K, you might as well spend a little bit extra time making sure it’s running the way it should. (Especially if you’re buying an RTX 3090 in Australia, where most of the cards will cost you north of $3000.)
Correction: Amended paragraph to clarify language around thermal pads and plastic coverings.