This post has been updated with statements from ZOTAC, GALAXY, GAINWARD, INNO3D, ASUS, GIGABYTE, MSI
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080/3090 graphics cards face Crash To Desktop (CTD) problems
The ongoing problems with GeForce RTX 30 series launch are reaching new grounds. From a very limited stock, sponsored videos ahead of independent reviews to actual hardware issues with the very few cards that were already delivered – this launch will definitely not going to be positively remembered.
We recently reported on a problem that had arisen in the last few days and it seems that we have only touched upon an issue that is rapidly escalating. To make things worse, NVIDIA has still not officially acknowledged the issue.
But let’s go back a little to understand what exactly is happening:
- September 15th: Colorful is the first manufacturer to report the instability issues (unofficially through emails):
- September 17th+: The first customers who bought RTX 30 series cards start to report on the problems. To our knowledge, no reviewer had reported the issues.
- September 23rd: ComputerBase made the first article on Crash to Desktop issue. On the same day, VideoCardz.com makes the first English report.
- September 25th: Igor Wallosek (igor’sLAB) publishes the first analysis of the problem, suggests that the capacitors may be the culprit.
- September 26th: Board partners make first official statements,
The issue is likely related to the capacitors installed at the back of the GPU. In this generation (GeForce RTX 30), this is actually very easy to see as the most manufacturers did not cover this area with a backplate. There are six necessary bottom capacitors that are responsible for filtering NVVDD/MSVDD GPU voltages. The better the filtering the less likely the card is to encounter issues at high frequencies (ie factory-overclocking).
The problem was first reported when custom boards were reaching 2.0 GHz+ clock speeds during gaming. This resulted in a sudden crash to desktop issues without any warning. The worse the voltage filtering and the higher the clock speed of the custom design was, the more likely users were to encounter this problem.
The issue is mostly related (at least from what is being reported now) to the choice of capacitors. AIBs need to follow NVIDIA guidelines to use either POSCAPs (Conductive Polymer Tantalum Solid Capacitors) – marked red on the picture below – or MLCCs (Multilayer Ceramic Chip Capacitor) – marked as green on a picture below. A combination of both is also possible and actively used on many cards (including Founders Edition). The under-specified guidelines could also be a culprit of the problem, because AIBs rely on those documents to the letter, especially when proper testing is not possible before launch.
It is worth noting that Buildzoid (video attached below) claims that these are not POSCAPs (in fact none of the RTX 30 cards use them). These are called SP-Caps.
The brands that opted for more MLCCs instead of POSCAPs are seeing fewer reports on instability issues. A full list of all cards including their capacitor layouts was gathered by Nestledrink (NVIDIA Subreddit moderator) in this post.
However, just because the card uses MLCCs instead of POSCAPs, it does not mean that the design is bad. After all, we do not know if the issue is only caused by capacitors themselves, or there is more at play here.
The MLCC is cheap and small, they operate at current ratings, voltages, and temperates, but they are prone to cracking and piezo effects, they also have bad temperature characteristics.
The POSCAP is bigger and has lower voltage ratings and is worse at high frequencies. They are however stronger and not prone to cracking, they also have no piezo effects, POSCAPS should also operate better at higher temperatures.
The full lists of pros and cons were provided by an electrical engineer Mirrormaster85 on Reddit, who specializes in PCB design.
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Actually Hardcore Overclocking Coverage
My thoughts on the RTX 3080/3090 core bypass capacitor configurations and crashing/instability
My Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/buildzoid Teespring: https://teespring.com/stores/actually-hardcore-overclocking The Twitch:https://www.twitch.tv/buildzo…
Regarding partner board designs, our partners regularly customize their designs and we work closely with them in the process. The appropriate number of POSCAP vs. MLCC groupings can vary depending on the design and is not necessarily indicative of quality.
Recently there has been some discussion about the EVGA GeForce RTX 3080 series.
During our mass production QC testing we discovered a full 6 POSCAPs solution cannot pass the real world applications testing. It took almost a week of R&D effort to find the cause and reduce the POSCAPs to 4 and add 20 MLCC caps prior to shipping production boards, this is why the EVGA GeForce RTX 3080 FTW3 series was delayed at launch. There were no 6 POSCAP production EVGA GeForce RTX 3080 FTW3 boards shipped.
But, due to the time crunch, some of the reviewers were sent a pre-production version with 6 POSCAP’s, we are working with those reviewers directly to replace their boards with production versions.
EVGA GeForce RTX 3080 XC3 series with 5 POSCAPs + 10 MLCC solution is matched with the XC3 spec without issues.
Also note that we have updated the product pictures at EVGA.com to reflect the production components that shipped to gamers and enthusiasts since day 1 of product launch. Once you receive the card you can compare for yourself, EVGA stands behind its products!
— Jacob Freeman, EVGA Forums
All retail ROG Strix and TUF Gaming GeForce RTX 3080 and 3090 graphics cards use only MLCC capacitors for decoupling close to the GPU.
During development, we discovered the improvement this makes to RTX 3090 and 3080 overclocking headroom, so we made specification changes before we started shipping cards to reviewers and customers. Please note that some of the product images used on etail sites and our product pages were from early development samples, so are not final. All images will be updated soon.
Please bear with us!
MSI became aware of reports from customers, reviewers, and system integrators that there may be instability when GeForce RTX 30 Series graphics cards core clocks exceeded a certain amount. The latest GeForce driver (456.55) includes fixes for the issue. As such, MSI recommends owners of GeForce RTX 30 Series graphics cards update to the latest driver release which can be downloaded from the NVIDIA GeForce website.
MSI stands behind its design decisions for its GeForce RTX 30 Series graphics cards catalog which consists of GAMING models and VENTUS models. MSI utilizes a mixed capacitor grouping in its designs to benefit from the strengths of both SP-Caps and MLCCs. All MSI GeForce RTX 30 Series cards that have shipped out since the beginning of production, which include media review samples, feature the PCB configurations as shown in the updated images below. MSI would like to express its appreciation to customers, reviewers, and system integrators that raised awareness to the issue, and to NVIDIA for the cooperation in quickly resolving the problem.
REGARDING CRASHING TO DESKTOP ISSUES OF GEFORCE RTX 3080
Dear Valued Customers,
We have seen many reports from users of GeForce RTX 3080 (including the 3080 Trinity) graphics cards crashing during gaming. A new GeForce driver version 456.55 has been released and we urge all to re-install your graphics card drivers as we believe it should improve stability.
We would like to reassure our customers who either have a ZOTAC GAMING GeForce RTX 30 Series graphics card on hand or have placed an order in your local retailer or etailer to continue having confidence in us and our products. Our graphics cards have undergone stringent testing and quality controls in design and manufacturing to ensure safety and great performance. At ZOTAC, product quality and your satisfaction are always very important to us.
Please contact your local service center or our support team in case you need help or have further questions relating to our products.
Thank you for your continued support!
GALAX (machine translation from Chinese)
About the SP-CAP capacitors and MLCC capacitors of GALAXY RTX 3080/3090 products
Dear player friends:
Hello, everyone. Recently, many users have come to inquire about the specific usage of the capacitors on the back of the GALAXY RTX 3080/3090 series of graphics chips. After verification, about the RTX 3080/3090 released by GALAXY. The capacitors used on the back of the model chip are as follows:
1. GALAXY RTX 3080 Heijiang/Metal Master product, the number of SP-CAP capacitors on the back of the chip: 5, the number of MLCC capacitors: a set of 10. This version is currently on sale and is the original commercial version.
2. GALAXY RTX 3090 General/Metal Master product, the number of SP-CAP capacitors on the back of the chip: 4, the number of MLCC capacitors: two groups of 20. This version is currently on sale and is the original commercial version.
3. GALAX RTX 3090 GAMER trial production samples, currently only 6 pieces are in the hands of the media and KOL. The first batch of this sample uses 6 SP-CAP capacitors. After confirmation, the GAMER products officially produced and sold will be used for capacitor materials. Make optimization improvements. Note: This product is not currently on sale.
I am very grateful to the players and friends for their support and love to GALAXY. GALAXY is also consistent in its pursuit of product quality. It is our glorious mission to provide you with better and stronger hardware. In addition, the current full range of GALAXY graphics card products support three-year warranty and personal warranty service. If you have other doubts or questions, please feel free to leave us a message to discuss, thank you!
GAINWARD (machine translation from Chinese)
Announcement on SP-CAP Capacitors and MLCC Capacitors of Gainsun 30 Series Graphics Card Products
Dear Gainward consumer players:
Thanks to the friends who bought and supported Gainward. Recently, we received the voice of market players’ inquiries. Many players are very concerned about our company’s just released 30 series products. Regarding the specific usage of the capacitors on the back of the chip, we hereby explain the situation:
All the RTX 3080 10GB graphics cards released by Gainward currently use 5 SP-CAP capacitors on the back of the chip and 10 MLCC capacitors. The versions currently on the market are all the original commercial versions.
All the RTX 3090 graphics cards released by Gainward currently use 4 SP-CAP capacitors on the back of the chip and 20 MLCC capacitors. The versions currently on the market are all the original commercial versions.
As a long-term AIC partner of Nvidia, Gainward has always been adhering to the product standard to design and produce completely according to Nvidia’s requirements. Therefore, currently players are concerned about the problem of capacitors and new product failures on the Internet. Currently Gainward has not generated such feedback. .
In addition, all Gainward graphics card products support three-year warranty and personal warranty service. Thank you consumers and players for your support and love to Gainward.
In response to the recent reports speculating that the use of POSCAP capacitors on the GeForce RTX 3080/3090 graphics cards could lead to stability issues and crashes, we would like to clarify the issue with the following statement:
1. It is false that POSCAP capacitors independently could cause a hardware crash. Whether a graphics card is stable or not requires a comprehensive evaluation of the overall circuit and power delivery design, not just the difference in capacitor types. POSCAPs and MLCCs have different characteristics and uses, thus it is not true to assert that one capacitor type is better than the other.
2. The GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 30 graphics cards are designed in accordance with NVIDIA specifications, and have passed all required testing, thus the product quality is guaranteed. GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 3080/3090 GAMING OC and EAGLE OC series graphics cards use high-quality, low-ESR 470uF SP-CAP capacitors, which meet the specifications set by NVIDIA and provide a total capacity of 2820u in terms of GPU core power, higher than the industry’s average. The cost of SP-CAP capacitors is not lower than that of MLCCs. GIGABYTE values product integrity highly and definitely does not reduce costs by using cheap materials.
NVIDIA has released a driver (version 456.55) on September 29, 2020 that improves stability. Users are advised to update to the latest driver for optimized performance. For users who encounter power-related issues with GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 30 series graphics cards, GIGABYTE will provide product replacement, free of charge.
GIGABYTE has been constantly improving and optimizing product quality, especially in terms of thermal designs, to provide the best gaming experience to the consumers for decades. For the latest AORUS GeForce RTX 30 graphics card series, we have also paid extra attention to the cooling performance and introduced industry-leading solutions such as MAX-Covered Cooling to ensure that the operation of each component is stable.
Model NVIDIA RTX 3080 Reference Design GIGABYTE RTX 3080 GAMING OC & EAGLE OC GPU core Power SP-CAP 220u/9m OHM *5 MLCC 22u *10 SP-CAP 470u/6m OHM *6 Total Capacity(u) 1320u 2820u