Introduction: How to Fix a Graphics Card?
Did your graphics card die? Computer turns on but there is no picture? Or after a while of gaming blue-screen appears? And this all happens few weeks after the warranty runs out? If the symptoms leads to a failure in graphics follow this guide.
This method works with every graphics card. Even with laptops.( i will make another instructable about fixing a laptop in the oven very soon!)
There is an easy way to save a lots of money by fixing the problem by your self!
Remember to attempt this fix in good ventilated area. The solder fumes aren't something to smell for fun!
For this easy fix you will need:
In these four simple steps you could have a working graphics card!
If possible do this in ESD protected area. ie. ground your self to something that has true ground.
Remember that if the graphics card is broken, you don't have anything to lose!
Step 1: Disassembly
Remove the heat sink from the graphics card.
Nothing special. Unscrew the screws from the bottom so the heat sink drops off.
Remember to remove the fans power cable.
In this case the faulty component is the big grey slap in the middle of the card. This is the graphics processor and under it is hundreds of tiny solder points. Some of this points are broken due to a heat caused by a bad heat dissipation what is mainly caused by a poor and dry thermal paste or a fan full of dust. Or both.
To fix this bad solder the main chip must be heated to a point the solder melts and rejoins the own solder point.
Step 2: Cleaning
Clean the old and dry thermal paste whit rubbing alcohol OR borrow your special ones nail polish removal.
Use a cotton swab and cotton cloth if possible. Toilet paper works fine too.
Clean the chip until the markings are clear from the thermal paste.
Also clean the heat sink.
Step 3: Heating
This is the critical part of the fix. How to heat the chip so it won't burn?
The chip must heat up to almost 200*C but not over it. Simple thing is to put the whole chip in to oven for 10 minutes at 200*C but with the heat gun you cant see the temperature on the chip.
Start heating the graphics chip whit the heat gun. Do not point it just on the main chip or it will burn. Make a slow rotary motion over the chip with the heat gun from about 10 cm over the card.
If you have lots of soldering experience, you know what a solder smells like when the solder melts. And for those who aren't familiar with soldering, the smell is like a burned glue and metal. The burned "glue" smell comes from the flux in the solder.
While heating the chip keep an nose on these smells and look if somewhere is liquid solder. This is the point when the heat is enough to fix the chip. Do not heat over this point or the chip will burn.
After these smells (hehe) let the chip cool for a while. DO NOT TOUCH the chip until it is completely cooled or the chip will move because the solder is liquid and it wont work. EVER!
This is the part where you will need patience. Rush in this and forget the idea about working card.
Step 4: New Thermal Paste and Assembly
It's time to apply a new thermal paste and assembly the heat sink.
The thermal paste i used was nexus TMP-1000 witch is cheap and easy to find paste. The paste is silver based so it will conduct heat really good. Also it wont dry out easily. The factory paste can dry completely in about a few months after applying but this won't. I once had this paste in heavy duty overclock PC for a year and it was still in liquid form. The paste is not the ultimate best in the market but it does it job very well.
Apply a small ball of the paste in the middle of the main chip. Use the right amount of the paste or it wont dispense heat properly. Too much paste does the same effect than a too little paste.
For the right amount of the paste is easy to apply. You can make a thin film from the paste all over the chip OR do it like i do. Put a small ball about a size of 3-5 mm in diameter in the center of the chip and press down the heat sink on to it. The paste will make a large circle in between the chip and the heat sink and it will spread evenly.
Assembling the heat sink is just the opposite of the earlier step.
Step 5: Testing
This graphics card is my friends old card that wasn't working after overheating. So i had to test the card in my own test bench. In the first picture you can see the fixed card on the table and my own card in the PC case.
In the next picture i have removed my own card and put the fixed card in to the case.
REMEMBER to remove the power cable from the PC BEFORE removing anything. AND use ESD protection to prevent static shock to the fragile parts of electronics.
In the last picture the fixed (and working. Wohooo!) graphics card is in the PC case and my own graphics card is on the table in front of the screen.
Install all the drivers on to the PC if needed and test it with Furmark or heaven benchmark to see that it functions properly and the heat is at normal levels.
Both of these are free and made for testing graphics to the limit!
I hope you fixed your card whit these easy steps! :)
I will make an another instructable about fixing a dead laptop with the oven in a few days!