eVGA GeForce RTX 3090 XC3 (Courtest: eVGA Forums)

GeForce RTX 3090, RTX 3080 thermal pad replacement reduces GDDR6x temps by 25c

The GDDR6X memory chips on the GeForce RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 are overheating because of the poor VRAM thermal pads. While you wouldn’t want that to happen, you’d assume respective companies would provide the best possible thermal pads. Turns out, replacing the thermal pads results in a steep drop of 20- 25 degrees Celcius.

This issue has been known for a while on RTX 3080FE and RTX 3090FE, but not limited to it. The RTX 3080 made by EVGA and ZOTAC also uses inefficient thermal pads where one case results in burnt pads with ZOTAC. With the EVGA RTX 3080 FTW and XC3, the GPU heatsink is shared with the memory heatsink. But the EVGA RTX 3090 variants are not exceptions, too. Many respective subreddits and forums are covered with these memory cooling issues on the RTX 3080 and RTX 3090. There were those who swapped the stock ones with thermal pads rated 6.0 W/mK thermal efficiency. The end result is that the GDDR6x chips are around 19°C cooler, getting the maximum temperature well under 100°C. So if we can see such a difference in a thermal pad with decent efficiency, you have to ask respective AICs and Nvidia what kind of thermal pads do they use in theirs.

Even those AIC partners use in-house designs, I wonder if they’re using the same thermal pads used in Founders Edition. If so, you really like to question Nvidia about this oversight since it affects FE, but also AIC partners.

Choice of thermal pads

Users have used a series of standard performing thermal pads- from Fujipoly, GELID and Thermaltake being some of the choices. So it is not the case of using the best possible thermal pad you can buy to get the best possible temperature drop. Yikes!!

There are a few more companies that make thermal pads- Thermalright, Arctic Cooling and Grizzly. There is a variable thickness of 0.5mm, 1mm and 1.5mm. So if you’re buying it, make sure you measure the ones instead and buy equivalent thickness. Depending on the brand, you may have to cut its sizes and apply them.

The thermal pad replacement has ended up bringing positive results. (For example: here, here and here)

The care needed with GDDR6X memory modules…

Micron GDDR6X is rated to operate at 95 degrees Celcius max, while the VRAM on the GeForce RTX 3090 and RTX 3080 hit or cross 100c. Ideally, you want the VRAMs to be as cool as any component to prevent throttling performance and lifespan reduction. These GPU coolers are pretty expensive to make, but you’d assume respective companies would use good enough thermal pads. At the time of writing, no other non-reference GPUs are reported to have bad thermal pads.

In one case, a Youtuber swaps the thermal pads of his RTX 3090 with the ones from Thermaltake. It is not the first name most hardware enthusiasts can come up with when it comes to thermal paste but even cuts off 20 degrees celsius on the Founders Edition. This is one case where it’s for mining. But it also applies to those who buy the card for gaming as pointed out above. Keeping the conversation about miners aside, the stock thermal pads should have done a better job than what’s doing now.

How self-maintenance is discouraged in India?

Usually, user maintenance is discouraged in countries like India. Some companies go so far as to put a void sticker on the screw. In many countries, user maintenance on graphics cards is acceptable as long as it doesn’t relate to physical damage or short circuit. As it should be. In a time when graphics cards are scarce, the last thing you want is to be handicapped by a bad thermal pad and thermal paste application, only to be discouraged by a little sticker blocking the screw. Keeping this in mind, respective companies should take even more care to use better thermal pads where required. But the long term conversation should be about the right the repair- or in this case- the right to self-maintenance within reasonable exceptions.

That’s something end-users need to ask companies either directly or the sponsored gamers and streamers they blindly swear by its cooling performance.

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