If you're one of the lucky gamblers or creative professionals who defied the impossible and managed to grab one of the limited stocks of Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3080 flagship graphics card when it was dropped, you might have your way to one Kind of roller coaster ride let in Ride the new GPU. Players have reported instability issues with the card since shortly after launch, causing the GPU to crash.
Since these reports were published, technology sites and industry insiders have hypothesized what the problem might be, with both software and hardware being potential culprits. Nvidia responded and released an updated GeForce driver. Here's what we know, and now what you can do to avoid crashes if you are the proud owner of an RTX 3080.
When the GPU crashes, players report that they see a black screen or flicker in the center of their monitor, obscuring games or other applications. Gamers who have experienced GPU crash issues have encountered a few conditions: the GPU was active and running during a game or application, the GPU clock speed exceeded 2010 MHz, and the crash would result in the monitor being flicked, a Screen instability or even a black screen.
The problem seems to be widespread and affects not only Nvidia's Founders Edition card, but also custom designs from partners including the MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Ventus 3X OC, the EVGA GeForce RTX 3080 XC3, the Gigabyte GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming Trio X and the Gigabyte GeForce 3080 Gaming OC and Zotac GeForce RTX 3080 Trinity according to the German publication ComputerBase. Reports indicate that users experiencing the crash problem have followed Nvidia's recommendations to use a power supply unit (PSU) rated at 750 watts or greater.
Is it hardware or software?
A combination of capacitors on Nvidia's Founders Edition card. Photo credit: Igors Lab
There are currently two possible theories as to why crashes can occur. It's unclear whether the crashing problem was due to faulty components or a driver problem. The former requires more work, as additional testing – and a possible callback – is required. However, if the problem is software, Nvidia, Microsoft, and their board partners may be able to release a software fix or driver update to address any remaining issues. Nvidia has already released a driver update, but it is not yet clear if the problem is completely resolved.
Those who believe the problem might be due to faulty hardware have limited it to using a specific capacitor that could be a contributing factor in the crashes. Nvidia's own specifications allow the use of multilayer ceramic chip capacitors (MLCCs) or conductive polymer tantalum solid capacitors (POSCAPs). Nvidia's Founder Edition GPUs use the MLCCs, while many custom boards are based on the POSCAPs. These capacitors help filter the voltage and each have their advantages and disadvantages.
It's unclear whether the crashing problem was due to faulty components or a driver problem.
Since there was a correlation between the number of crashes with Zotac's Trinity GPU and Zotac's reliance on POSCAPs, Igorslab assumed the crash could be due to the type of capacitor used. Many of the affected custom cards were experiencing crash issues. In theory, these cards are clocked higher than the Founders Edition version of Nvidia. Anecdotes from online gamers suggest that clocking down the custom RTX 3080 GPUs by just 100MHz could help solve the problem.
Another contributor to the theory is GPU maker EVGA, which released a statement highlighting that capacitor failure was one reason the RTX 3080 GPU designs were delaying on launch.
"During our QC testing in mass production, we found that a complete POSCAP solution with six POSCAPs cannot pass real-world tests," EVGA wrote in a forum post on its own website, according to a report on Tom's Hardware. “It took almost a week (research and development) to find the root cause and reduce the POSCAPs to four and add 20 MLCC caps before production boards were shipped. Because of this, the EVGA GeForce RTX 3080 FTW3 series has been delayed at launch. "
The company also admitted that pre-production units were sent to some reviewers with the faulty capacitors, and the company is trying to replicate any real-world issues in a potential hardware fix. Production units with the more expensive capacitors were problem-free, according to EVGA. "The EVGA GeForce RTX 3080 XC3 series with 5 POSCAPs + 10 MLCC solutions is perfectly adapted to the XC3 specification."
Despite the manufacturer's optimism about the XC3 GPU, users stated that they too crashed. A user crashed while playing games like Divinity Original Sin II, Metro Exodus, Doom Eternal, Kingdom Come: Deliverance, and Endless Space.
Asus' TUF RTX 3080 and Nvidia's Founder Edition owners, who both use MLCCs, have also experienced crashes, which could indicate that hardware may not be making a huge contribution to this.
For its part, Nvidia had distanced itself from hardware theory. The company found that it worked closely with all partners to ensure that all components were working properly.
“When it comes to partner board designs, our partners adjust their designs on a regular basis and we work closely with them,” the company said in a blog post. "The appropriate number of POSCAP and MLCC groupings can vary depending on the design and is not necessarily an indication of quality."
Nvidia's statement contradicts the statement of its partner EVGA that the problem may be software-controlled and that an updated driver will be the solution.
What to do now to avoid crashes
The most immediate thing you can do is update your driver. This can go a long way in fixing stability and fixing bugs. Nvidia recently released a new GeForce driver. You should therefore download it and install it on your system.
Other possible solutions that have worked for some users include reducing the clock speed by 50 to 100 MHz or trying to under-tension the GPU. According to Wccftech, the latter solution is only possible via MSI Afterburner 4.6.3 Beta 2.
And if a crash can conflict with drivers, a possible solution can be using Guru 3D's driver uninstaller to find all of the drivers installed on your device and uninstall old ones.
If you'd rather not get through the growing problems of a new GPU version, you can always return your RTX 3080 until early adopters, board designers, and Nvidia can thoroughly investigate and resolve any remaining problems. Nvidia's online shop offers a 30-day return policy. If you bought your RTX 3080 elsewhere, you will need to check with the retailer for return policy. If you purchased your GPU with a credit card, you may also be covered by extended warranties, purchase protection, or extended return windows depending on the terms of the card network or the issuing bank.
However, if you need the latest and greatest GPU in town today, you can also research the type of capacitors used on the card of your choice before buying it. Choosing a card that uses MLCCs only, or a combination of MLCCs and POSCAPs, with a design that is entirely POSCAP-based can help resolve crash issues. According to PC Gamer, GPU makers Galax, Gainward and Inno3D have stated that they don't use POSCAP in their designs.