A single customer sent 19 flagship NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 graphics cards to repair professional and YouTuber "NorthridgeFix" because most of them had cracked PCBs close to the retention finger on the end of the PCIe card. Check it out:
We don't know what the source of this damage is exactly, but we do know that the RTX 4090 -- in any form, from any AIB -- is pretty heavy, with hefty cooling solutions for NVIDIA's flagship gaming GPU. NorthridgeFix says that he's seen this issue before, but getting so many in a single round is strange.
He had 19 different RTX 4090 cards sent to him in both ASUS and GIGABYTE custom cards, where the cracks were only found on the ASUS RTX 4090 cards. This doesn't just happen out of nowhere, but it could be because system builders were shipping pre-built gaming systems with the RTX 4090 pre-installed, and it went through some not-so-great transport.
The PCB on a GeForce RTX 4090 isn't something that's basic, we're talking about 12 to 15 layers on the PCB, each with a complex array of electrical trades. Alex, aka NorthridgeFix, went through each of the 19 individual boxes of graphics cards, and once he spotted a cracked PCB, he would call it a "no fix" and put it to the side. This is because cracked PCBs with that many layers -- 12 to 15 layers -- are expensive to fix. They can be fixed, it's just the customers sending the cards in to get repaired will be charged a bench fee (for handling) as well as packing and postage costs.
- Read more: NVIDIA: 'continue to investigate reports' of RTX 4090 + 16-pin power issues
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- Read more: Multiple GeForce RTX 4090 cards DEAD, melted 16-pin power connectors!
Alex did wonder why a single customer had not only purchased 19 x RTX 4090 graphics cards but why were all of them damaged. Well, he did think that the customer could've purchased the damaged RTX 4090 cards from eBay and was hoping they'd be easy (and cheap) to repair and would make a hefty profit. Makes sense, but that's a lot of moola for damaged RTX 4090s.
None of the broken RTX 4090 graphics cards that were sent in had any visible physical damage or burn marks, which makes a change to the more common issues on RTX 4090 with their 12VHPWR power connectors being damaged.
Cracked PCBs can be fixed, it's just that it takes longer to fix, and the customer that buys it will need to be informed that the expensive RTX 4090 they're purchasing had a cracked but now fixed PCB. Another thing is that these cards could also be torn apart for spare parts: the GPU, VRAM, fans, shrouds, and more can all be used on other graphics cards to repair them.