More blowup-y goodness

February 28, 2011


Picture: Capacitors exploding like party poppers, my actual video card.

That’s right, yet another post about some sort of mishap/adventure I’ve had with some piece of computer component or technology. This time, it was my video card.

After doing a recent modest upgrade to the main parts of my computer, my video card was still trudging along like a true trooper. NVIDIA released the GeForce 8600GT in April of 2007 and XFX released an overclocked “XXX Edition” shortly after that. At the time, I’d just finished a computer build in the summer and followed up the holidays by treating myself to a video card upgrade for Christmas by nabbing XFX’s card. After tossing it into my system, I immediately noticed two things, it was hot and it was loud. Sure, it was a mid-range card and heat wouldn’t be too bad, but the noise was unbelievable. This was all due to it’s tiny heatsink fan, imagine something like a 60 mm fan.

Since it was so small, it would need to spin really fast to keep the chip at bearable temps at overclocked speeds. What resulted was a high whirring sound that was woefully ill-representative of it’s cooling performance. In fact, in a test where I actually opened my case up and stopped the fan with my fingers, I got total silence. It was the loudest thing in my case! It easily was the single source of ridiculous noise coming out the side of my computer. I immediately went in search of an aftermarket cooler to mount on so that I could alleviate the stressing heat and the brutal noise. After placing on a Zalman VF900-Cu LED heatsink fan onto the card, it performed brilliantly thermally and acoustically. Cool and quiet, this guy became my soldier for light gaming since the end of 2007 till just a week ago, over three years of work.

It’s demise came loud and sudden, a popping sound emanating less than a foot away from my right leg. After jumping in fright and then calming myself down, I checked the inside of my case and couldn’t find any wreckage. Thus, I trekked on usage for another day. That is until the next day. My computer started show artifacts and glitchy graphics on the desktop itself followed by having the display driver crash repeatedly. I wiped, reinstalled and upgraded drivers in safe mode and still no avail. My computer was now starting to lock up even before finishing to load it’s system tray apps (to which I have a bunch.) I’d read on some forums that heat might have been an issue, but I’d dusted the card recently so airflow should not have been an issue, especially for my better performing cooler. Many others said the chips might have cracked and that I should toss it into the oven to bake it. Quite insane.

There was one good advice from someone online. He said to take the card out and examine it. You just never know what you might notice could be wrong unless you fully unplug the card and take it out to review. So, I did just that. The card looked all good and fine until I notice the bottom right hand corner of the card. What manifested there is the photo I took at the top of the post. Three capacitors had burst their tops like party poppers. I didn’t even know this was possible because I thought they were solid capacitors. I was definitely NOT plugging this back into my computer. The next day, I went video card hunting for a replacement. For pretty much the same price I paid years ago for the 8600GT, my computer’s graphics are now powered by an NVIDIA GeForce GTX460. A marvelous card with great performance that, just six months ago, was $200 brand new.

As for my now dead 8600GT, I found that there were many reports of the same three capacitors bursting on many others’ cards. It turns out XFX’s supplier was loading up the card with low quality, and in some cases, fake solid capacitors that were prone to bursting. Most others cards hit the fail wall after the first year or two, mine got an extra year that I owe to the extra cooling. Andrew now has the carcass and is looking into whether he can replace those caps and maybe revive the bugger. If he can, it’ll truly be amazing. For myself, I’ll continue blasting along with my new card because realistically, 2-3 generations of cards have passed and it was time to move on.


One comment

  1. […] it at More Blowup-y Goodness at The Brain 2 […]

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