Graphics card failure is a common problem in personal computers. If your graphics card has failed, it may be because the solder points between components and the board have developed hairline cracks. These cracks can be repaired by heating the card and letting the solder flow back into the joints.
Please note that this is a technique of last resort, and should only be used if the graphics card is definitely defective and not eligible for replacement.
You’ll need a screwdriver, rubbing alcohol, a clean cloth, thermal paste, aluminum foil, a baking sheet, and an oven.
A failing graphics card is identifiable by a variety of symptoms. Jagged lines or unusual shapes on the screen (called “artifacts”) are a sure sign of impending failure. In other situations, graphics cards fail without warning and produce a blank screen. This is harder to diagnose, but testing with a different, functioning card can narrow things down.
Step #1: Remove the Card From Your Computer
If you’ve determined that your video card is the problem, then go ahead and pull it out of the computer. Make sure to unplug everything before opening your case (safety first!). The card will probably be mounted in your motherboard’s PCIe slot, as well as attached to the case by a screw through the back plate.
Many graphics cards feature a dedicated power connection from the power supply (6 or 8 pin); make sure to disconnect this as well. Mark it if you’re afraid of forgetting which cable it is.
Step #2: Strip the Card of All Exterior Components
The chipset of your card won’t be harmed by high temperatures, but the same cannot be said for the other components bolted to it. Your card has a heatsink and fan assembly that will melt when exposed to the temperature of the oven. Most heatsinks come off easily when the screws are removed, but make sure to unplug the fan cable first or it may break. A little wiggling is sometimes necessary; if the heatsink still refuses to come off, make sure that you have found and removed all the screws.
This is also a good time to remove the old thermal paste that joins the heatsink to the processor surface. Rubbing alcohol and a clean cloth will do the trick. You’ll need to reapply fresh thermal paste after baking.
Step #3: Bake the Card
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. While waiting, crumple up a few balls of tin foil and set them on a baking sheet. Sit the card on top of these balls, as you don’t want it to sit directly on the pan.
When the oven is preheated, insert your card and set the timer. 8 to 10 minutes should do the trick.
Step #4: Cool and Reassemble
Once the card has cooled, reassemble everything the way you found it. Don’t forget to apply a new coat of thermal paste and reconnect the fan cable!
With any luck, the card will function properly again.