EVGA GTX 1080s and 1070s allegedly exploding due to improper VRM cooling

Most of the time, which OEM you choose to buy a GPU from isn’t seen as having a huge impact on the performance of the card, though added value and included goodies often vary between manufacturers. Every now and then, however, design differences between companies do play out in a more significant way, and that may be what has happened to EVGA and its GTX 1080 and 1070 lineups. Reports from Reddit and the EVGA forums suggest that a number of cards have failed catastrophically and in high-profile fashion.

Hot Hardware reported on one Reddit user, Mydst, who saw his card flame out while he was using it, and he’s not alone. Sharp-eyed readers on the EVGA forums have pointed to a Tom’s Hardware Guide review, which picked up VRM (voltage regulator modules) temperatures exceeding 106C during stress loading. That’s significantly hotter than the GPU itself.

02-EVGA-GTX-1080-FTW-Furmark

Image by THG. Note that the VRMs are significantly hotter than the GPU.

Photographs of the damaged cards also points to the VRMs, as shown in this image from Crazy6a3er on Reddit.

nvidia-1070-vrm-damage-1280x720

Image by Crazy6a3er

EVGA has responded to the controversy by making a series of VRM pads available for free to any consumer that requests them. As shipped, the VRMs apparently aren’t covered or cooled by the primary exhaust fan. EVGA is sticking to their claims that the VRMs are fully capable of tolerating these increased loads. The company’s statement is reprinted below:

The test used in the referenced review from Toms Hardware (Germany) is running under Furmark, an extreme usage case, as most overclockers know. We believe this is a good approach to have some idea about the graphics card limit, and the thermal performance under the worst case scenario. EVGA has performed a similar qualification test during the design process, at a higher ambient temperature (30C in chamber) with a thermal coupler probe directly contacting the key components and after the Toms Hardware (Germany) review, we have retested this again. The results in both tests show the temperature of PWM and memory is within the spec tolerance under the same stress test, and is working as originally designed with no issues.

During our recent testing, we have applied additional thermal pads between the backplate and the PCB and between the baseplate and the heatsink fins, with the results shown below. We will offer these optional thermal pads free of charge to EVGA owners who want to have a lower temperature. These thermal pads will be ready soon; and customers can request them starting Monday, October 24th, 2016. Also, we will work with Toms Hardware to do a retest.

No retest details have been published yet, but EVGA has published an updated Furmark test result with the pads installed:

EVGA-FLIR

EVGA appears to be honoring card warranties, but time will tell if the problem is actually VRM-related or not. If it is, then we’ll see replacement GPUs failing over time as well. If the pads solve the VRM issue, EVGA is likely to adopt them in future iterations of the card (and users who install them won’t see repeat failures). We’ve reached out to EVGA to see if the company had any additional response on this issue and will update if we hear back.

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