Like many people out there, you’ve probably had your video card die within just a few days or even weeks of the warranty running out. If this has happened to you, don’t stress!
Since the card is already out of warranty, you have nothing to lose by baking the card in the oven, right? Well it turns out that reheating your video card to a certain temperature can actually “revive it”. The logic behind the experiment is that by heating up the card, it re-melts the solder joints which can sometimes come loose over time and cause the card to artifact, display a blank screen, or sometimes even overheat.
So you’ve read this far you’re probably saying “get on with it already”, so here are the steps you’ll need to take. Note this isn’t a guaranteed fix, but there is a high success rate (as seen in the threads HERE and HERE), and if your card is already non-working and out of warranty, you have nothing to lose.
Things you’ll need:
-Dead video card
-Oven capable of 385°F
-Screwdriver (for removing the heatsink)
-Your favorite thermal paste
First thing you want to do is preheat your oven to 385°F and wrap an oven tray with tin foil.
While that’s preheating, start removing the heatsink and any other plastic parts on your video card. You essentially want the card naked, with nothing but the PCB and rear bracket. Make sure all screws, nuts, and bolts are removed as well. Also remove any old thermal paste from the die itself, and any thermal pads from the RAM chips. Remove the thermal pads gently so you can reuse them when the card comes out of the oven.
Once you have the card stripped down, roll four little balls out of tin foil and place them in the shape of the video card on the tray. Next set the video card face down on them, making sure the foil balls touch only the PCB and not any resistors or solder connections.
Once the oven is 385°F, pop the tray in for 8 minutes and let it cook.
Once the time is up, remove the card from the oven and let it cool back down to room temperature. After it’s cooled, put a thin layer of thermal paste on the die (use a razor to spread it) and the thermal pads back on the RAM chips. Then reinstall the heatsink and make sure everything is snug and the heatsink fan is connected to the power connector on the cards PCB.
Now reinstall the card in your case, hook up any necessary power cables and turn on your PC. If the trick worked, your screen should display video that would make you think the video card is brand new. If you really want to stress your newly fixed card to make sure it won’t break again right away, you can download and run OpenGL Fur Rendering). Choose the stability test, uncheck the “windowed mode” and run it at 640 x 480 with 16x MSAA. Let it run for about ten minutes to make sure your card doesn’t artifact, or crash your system.
That’s it! You’ve just successfully turned your expensive paperweight into a fully functioning video card again.
Credit to antipesto93 for the initial thread and write-up and Haste266 for his photos.
EDITOR’S UPDATE BY IMOG: I received this message from Allan Stirling, issuing a warning about the dangers of using your oven for this. I haven’t seen much discussion of these sorts of concerns, and I’m not sure how valid they are. That said, the reader should take these into consideration prior to deciding to attempt the oven trick. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any feedback, confirming or contradicting Allan’s concerns :
No-one should attempt this in a household oven, for various reasons:
1. Both lead and tin are volatile when heated. Specifically, this means that lead oxide and other dangerous chemicals are emitted when lead is heated.
2. The fluxes used in production of modern electronics are designed to remove oxides very, very efficiently. They are NOT designed to be biocompatible. Small amounts of residue may still be on the board.
3. Boards may contain parts which will melt at the reflow temperature. These components are generally through-hole and added as a separate step.
So, basically, once you have completed this operation and (possibly) fixed your video card, BUY A NEW OVEN.
The other option is to buy a cheap toaster oven and use it only for reflowing – however, that’s cost prohibitive.