Repair VGA card by re-flowing solder on the board

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Sometimes a fault can be caused by a bad solder joint on a circuit board. cards such as Graphics cards that are exposed to repeated heat/cool cycles may suffer fractured solder joints leading to intermittent or hard faults. Symptoms : lines on screen

  • Author: Gaspard Leon
  • Time required: 30-40 min
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Sometimes you'll have an out-of-warranty video card that is basically now a paper-weight.

If you were going to throw it out anyway and you have an oven and common-sense you have a chance of repairing the card by re-flowing the solder.

Obviously as with any guide that involves an oven you might burn your house down or burn your hands or inhale toxic fumes or whatever, please don't do anything that you don't feel comfortable doing.

However if the warnings don't scare you. Continue through the guide.

Please note that the guide has been edited by a few people over the years - some parts are not my original writing

Cheers,

-Gaspard

Relevant Parts

Edit Step 1 Faulty VGA card due to fractured or cold / dry solder joint  ¶ 

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Edit Step 1 Faulty VGA card due to fractured or cold / dry solder joint  ¶ 

  • Remove the video card (if it's installed in the system)

Edit Step 2 CHECK YOUR WARRANTY  ¶ 

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Edit Step 2 CHECK YOUR WARRANTY  ¶ 

  • If the card is still under warranty, get it repaired by the manufacturer. Otherwise, continue with this guide.

Edit Step 3 You will need  ¶ 

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Edit Step 3 You will need  ¶ 

  • Precision screwdriver(s) -- usually Phillips #0 and/or #1 for the fan and anything else screwed onto the graphics card

  • Aluminium foil to cover heat sensitive components and to prop up the card on your baking tray

  • Some thermal paste replace the paste you clean off the chips

  • Paper towel to rub any excess of old heatsink compound from the components

  • An oven

  • A baking tray

Edit Step 4 preparing the oven  ¶ 

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Edit Step 4 preparing the oven  ¶ 

  • Preheat the oven to 385F (195C).

  • If you've already finished this guide once and are baking again, increase the temperature slightly -- 395F (200C) or 400F (205C).

  • Solder melts at different temperatures depending on the type, so if you're squeamish, you might start at 375F.

Edit Step 5 Preparation  ¶ 

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Edit Step 5 Preparation  ¶ 

  • While the oven is pre-heating:

    • Remove the screws or clips holding your fan and heatsink and any ductwork from the video card.

    • Gently take the fan/heatsink off

    • remove any old heatsink compound from the chips (paper towel)

    • Place the screws in a safe place

    • Be sure there are not many or any plastic components on the board... if there are, they might melt

    • I usually prop up the video card on small scrunched up balls of aluminium-foil (in the corners) so the board doesn't rest on any components.

Edit Step 6 Solder reflow - melting point  ¶ 

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Edit Step 6 Solder reflow - melting point  ¶ 

  • be patient -- if your oven has a window you'll probably see the solder melt when it gets really shiny

  • you want to heat the GPU SLOWLY.

  • 5 -10 mins at 200-220C

    • my experience: ps3 - 6min, xbox - 4-6 min, desktop boards -12 min , laptop baords - 8-12 min, GFX - 8-15min

    • use this as a guide only - not a golden rule, different materials will melt at different rates

Edit Step 7  ¶ 

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Edit Step 7  ¶ 

  • Once the oven is at required temperature set a timer for 8-12 minutes.

  • Place the baking sheet or dish in the middle of the oven.

  • Do not leave the oven unattended for any reason!

Edit Step 8  ¶ 

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Edit Step 8  ¶ 

  • when ready open the oven door - let fumes out , keep opening and closing like 5 - 10 times. this equalizes temperature difference

  • hold your tray firmly. carefully try not to touch anything or make sudden moves as components can be dislodged while the solder is still soft.

  • You will notice a smell from the molten solder/flux.

  • Leave it the video card to cool for a while - let it do by itself. using fans to acccelerate the cooling might result in weaker joints or unsuccessful re-flow

Edit Step 9 Make sure the card has cooled enough to touch it before continuing.  ¶ 

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Edit Step 9 Make sure the card has cooled enough to touch it before continuing.  ¶ 

  • You have 2 options:

    • 1. Test the card quickly without reinstalling the fan/heatsink.

    • 2. Reinstall the fan/heatsink, then test the card.

  • Most people will want to test the card to see if it powers on and passes the POST.

  • If you are trying it without the heatsink/fan, DO NOT run it for longer than 30 seconds.

  • If the card still doesn't work after baking, you may repeat the process and might need to increase its time

Edit Step 10 Installing the heat sink  ¶ 

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Edit Step 10 Installing the heat sink  ¶ 

  • Apply some thermal grease (thermal compound etc) onto the GPU, RAM, and any other place that is required.

  • Use only a small amount of thermal paste and spread evenly over the surface using a piece of cardboard, a credit card

  • If re using thermal tape or pads that were saved during the disassembly, place these back in their original position

  • REMEMBER - heatsink paste is there to make space between chip and heatsink airtight so most of the heat finds its way - away

Edit Step 11  ¶ 

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Edit Step 11  ¶ 

  • Place the heat-sink over the GPU carefully, lining up any screws or clips.

  • Insert and tighten all the screws carefully! They are usually quite small, and the PCB may be damaged if the screws are over tightened.

  • Tighten the screws in an alternating pattern. E.G. Top left, Bottom right, Top right, Bottom left. With more than 4 screws, use a "Star" pattern when tightening the screws ensuring all screws are evenly tightened

  • if noticed any dust - make sure that has been cleaned too

Edit Step 12 Final checks  ¶ 

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Edit Step 12 Final checks  ¶ 

  • Verify that the fan was reconnected (if there is one).

  • Verify that the fan spins when the PC is powered up.

  • Make sure the GPU works when loading up in Windows, etc.

  • A good program to get is GPU-Z. it can display the GPU temperature on supported cards.

  • GOOD LUCK

For more information, check out the Video Card device page.

Required Tools

Phillips #0 Screwdriver

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Arctic Silver Thermal Paste

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Comments Comments are onturn off

I fixed my friends dead out-of-warranty Leadtek Geforce 8800 GTS 640MB card using this procedure

That was 3 weeks ago, and he's still using it daily since then

We forgot to plug in the fan connector and his temperatures reached 124C while playing a game

Since then he reconnected his fan and it's working fine

Thanks for reading, hope it helps someone

Gaspard Leon, · Reply

Hi everyone,

I also fixed a almost dead NVIDIA 512mb MXM II card, at the first point I put the card 8 min to 190ºC aprox, it improved the performance but not yet to run.

Then i repeated the operation with 205ºC and 10 min and the card ran perfectly, add some thermal paste and it's solved.

Thanks for this manual it's very usefull!!!

javier, · Reply

I just finished doing this with an evga gtx460 i got from a friend of mine. It was throwing up artifacts and crashing constantly before. Now it's stable for over 10 minutes. It looks like it's fixed but only time will tell. Wish me luck and thanks for the guide!

Chris S, · Reply

It is such a nice way you have done it but the process need too much care and there is a big threat of PCB damage due to manual working so you need to be more careful and if someone is worried about the PCB he need to get a better auto pick and place BGA rework station this is specially made for these types of reworking. Here I have seen some blogs that have so many machines and process you can choose according to the type of reworking you want. I am sure you will like it.

http://bgareworkstations.wordpress.com/

Harry Potter, · Reply

i was very worried about my oven because it not heating well now i have learn a lot from here ...

http://www.ransomspares.co.uk/cooker-rep...

Andre Matthew, · Reply

Hi all i did exactly wat needed to be done my card buggered up while playing Diablo 3 with all settings to max performance and max graphics quality i baked my card and it worked putting my mind at rest in fear of spending hundreds on a new card so this guide has saved my computer and has saved my hip pocket ( only thing is cant be sure enough on how long this will last ) also my graphics card is a PowerColor Radeon HD 7850 2GB GDDR5 (AX7850 2GBD5-DH) just to give you an idea on wat type of card i have and if similiar cards to mine will work also by doing this guide

Shane Blewitt, · Reply

Final note: it might or might not work depending on the problem with your card, and the type of card, however if the card is a paperweight already, it's worth a shot! ;)

Gaspard Leon, · Reply

My GTX 570 failed dramatically yesterday not even allowing booting into the Windows environment. After 10 minutes on gas mark 5 (and a half) all is well this morning. I had seen this technique used on games consoles, but never considered it for PC cards. Thanks VERY MUCH for this guide.

Christopher Jones, · Reply

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