In a surprising turn of events, YouTube tech repair channel NorthridgeFix found itself grappling with an unexpected influx of Asus GeForce RTX 4090 graphics cards, all sharing a common malady—broken printed circuit boards (PCBs). The renowned repair professional and YouTuber, Alex from NorthridgeFix, recently received an astonishing 19 GeForce RTX 4090 graphics cards from a single customer, sparking a revelation that has left the tech community buzzing.
In a detailed video walkthrough, Alex meticulously inspected each graphics card, revealing a recurring issue of cracked PCBs near the PCIe card’s retention finger. The intricate and complex design of the GeForce RTX 4090’s PCB, typically boasting 12-15 layers housing a labyrinth of electrical traces, made the discovery all the more perplexing. As each crack was identified, Alex promptly categorized the affected cards as “no fix,” acknowledging the impracticality of repairing multi-layered PCBs in terms of cost.
The sheer volume of damaged graphics cards prompted NorthridgeFix to delve into the potential causes behind this peculiar phenomenon. Alex, in his characteristic thoroughness, speculated on several possibilities, considering whether the fault lay with the user, the manufacturer, the designer, or even the choice of materials.
Furthermore, he pondered whether this sizable batch of faulty cards, primarily from Asus (with cracks observed exclusively on Asus boards), could be attributed to a system maker neglecting to include proper GPU support. Alternatively, the cards might have suffered rough handling during transit if pre-installed in PC systems.
The Asus GeForce RTX 4090 is a heavyweight in the realm of graphics cards, boasting power and complexity. The unexpected influx of broken PCBs, however, raises questions about the durability and resilience of these high-end components. Alex’s thorough examination uncovered no visible damage or burn marks, a common issue associated with the RTX 4090’s 12VHPWR connectors across different brands.
Intriguingly, Alex speculated about the origin of these 19 GPUs, considering the possibility that the buyer had acquired them on platforms like eBay in the hopes of undertaking a straightforward repair and subsequent profitable resale. This speculation adds a layer of mystery to the already enigmatic circumstances surrounding this batch of damaged graphics cards.
Despite the seemingly dire situation, there is a silver lining. The owner of the 19 broken GPUs deserves credit for ensuring that none of the cards exhibited additional visible damage or burn marks, thus preserving their potential value as donor boards. In the world of tech repair, these “dead cards” can still serve a purpose, contributing to recycling efforts by providing valuable parts like shrouds, fans, VRAM, GPUs, and more.
The question of whether these PCB cracks can be fixed lingers, and NorthridgeFix’s stance is clear—the time, effort, and expense needed for repairing the intricate traces in multiple layers make it an impractical endeavor. While Alex showcased a challenging repair task in an earlier video featuring an Asus GeForce graphics card, the use of fiberglass for filling cracks was emphasized. However, cautionary notes were sounded regarding subsequent use, installation, and removal of the repaired cards, urging users to handle them with extreme care.
This incident sheds light on an ongoing issue within the tech community—GPU PCB cracking, particularly affecting large and heavy graphics cards. Repair technicians, including prominent figures like Louis Rossman and NorthridgeFix, have been highlighting these faults and sharing their repair insights for months. Additionally, reports in the news this year have spotlighted PCB design issues with Gigabyte cards, further emphasizing the importance of robust design and manufacturing standards in the ever-evolving landscape of graphics card technology.