RTX 3080 RTX 3090 thermal pad replacement

Nvidia says ‘No Comment’ about RTX 3080, RTX 3090 thermal pad issue

Earlier, I reported about the thermal pads used on RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 from Nvidia and its AIC partners. Enthusiasts in Reddit and Facebook groups talked about thermal pad on the relatively new RTX 3080 and 3090’s inability to cool GDDR6X memory during use. Some cases also showed these thermal pads were barely in usable condition. Such cases have been observed since December 2020, but the complaints have increased over the months. Since then, there is a significant increase in the purchase of aftermarket thermal pads. But it leaves an underlying issue: the official statement from Nvidia and AIC partners.

Nvidia’s Response

I did reach out to Ben Beraondo, the Head of Consumer & Regional PR EMEAI at NVIDIA. As much as we can speculate the reason behind it, it’s only fair to ask if Nvidia is aware of the issue and providing any workarounds. The following was asked via email with the links as a reference:

The reply of no hope?

Usually, we ask questions to our contacts in India but due to the lack of response about anything in the past, it was best to ask questions to the international representatives. To my surprise, I did get a response from Rohit Biddappa, the Head-Enterprise Marketing, Corporate Communication & Digital for Nvidia. Unfortunately, the surprise wasn’t equivalent to hoping for a positive response:

And- that’s it. The reply was given on March 30th. I asked with a follow-up question, requesting the specification of the stock thermal pads. I was curious to know from Nvidia about the thermal pad they use and may be recommended to AIC partners.  It’s an assumption, but it’s something anyone will naturally be curious about. Changing to a thermal pad with 6.0 W/mK thermal efficiency is reported to have a drop of up to 19°C. So, you can only assume these stock thermal pads are substandard.

I assumed the thermal pads used on the GDDR6X memory might be used on GDDR5-powered GPUs. AIC partners may have done the same. But it needed clarification on behalf of those who face this issue. Any response will be added here,  but the issue is not localised or limited to Founders Edition or some AIC partners- or method of cooling:

Response (or lack of it) from AIC partners

I did reach out to multiple AIC partners who sell Nvidia GPUs independently. One company did informally inform me they will have a response, only not give one even after a follow-up. And that’s the state of affairs towards paying enthusiasts. Yikes!

It is likely some GPU makers, depending on one/ some or all its SKUs, may have used better thermal pads than the typical stock ones. Some AIC partners might be using better thermal pads. But AIC partners don’t disclose the quality of the thermal pad and thermal paste.

Edit (06.04.2021)

I received the following official comment from Asus regarding the widespread complaints about RTX 3090 and RTX 3080 GPUs, not necessarily limited to Founders Edition:

In reference to the overheating issue with the new RTX 3000 SKUs which may be directly linked to the type of thermal pads used, we have not reported any case for ASUS RTX 3000 VGA SKUs in India. In the remotest possibility should this occur with any of our RTX 3000 graphics cards, we would only recommend the end-user to submit their graphics card to our authorised service centre to have this corrected. This is to avoid any discrepancies irrespective of the technical capability of the end-user.”

I can confirm there I did not hear any issue regards ASUS RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 variants. But it was best to ask most GPU manufacturers even if their units are not reported to have this issue. While I would have liked to know more about the thermal pads they use, the good news is if Asus RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 users have this issue, the service agency will take of this. The same questions were asked to ZOTAC, GIGABYTE/ AORUS, MSI and Nvidia. Apart from Nvidia’s response above, there’s nothing from others. But it’s refreshing to see for a change that someone provided a reasonable response considering the situation at hand.

The foreseeable Consequences…

This is a serious issue for many reasons, even though thermal pad swapping is not hard for enthusiasts. Depending on the country you’re in, you’re likely to void the warranty of your graphics card. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission said the warranty stickers are not valid. At the time, it warned companies to reverse this in 30 days or it would result in law enforcement action. But the FTC regulations are only applicable in the United States.

If you look at countries like India, thermal pads from known brands like Arctic Cooling and Thermalright are not as easily available as thermal pastes and CPU coolers. So we rely on service centres who rely on the instructions and materials provided by AIC partners and Nvidia for Founders Edition who may rely on Nvidia assuming they set the guidelines for thermal pastes and thermal pads for everyone.

Cause and Solution?

This issue is only on the RTX 3080 and RTX 3090′ VRAMs which uses GDDR6X. Micron, the GDDR6X VRAM manufacturer for the RTX 3090 and RTX 3080 specifically said that its maximum operating temperature is up to 95° C . An Australian streamer who a system made by a system integrator with an RTX 3080 said they had to downclock the graphics card until replacements or better variation of the card arrives in the market. It’s not certain that would be the case, but it’s difficult to confirm this with Nvidia since they have no words for this issue, let alone this one.

Why not just give a solution?

Had Nvidia and its AIC partners gave an option to allow everyone to swap thermal pads of their choice or something they will do via their service centres, the concern would have been reduced. The ‘no comment’ raises concerns, mostly because buying these graphics card is extremely difficult and sometimes non-accessible. So we cannot be sure what can be done. When EVGA had a heat issue in its earlier variants, the company responded by providing additional thermal pads and instructions. That’s a natural response towards your enthusiast user base. It is nothing new. If Nvidia and AIC partners can provide new BIOS to enable Resizable BAR even at the risk of bricking the graphics card to the end-user, a simple workaround can be given for this issue.

Addressing and considering crowdsourced solutions is important. The best example can be seen with the recent issue involving AMD’s random USB disconnection issue. Before it can provide the new AGESA update, it confirmed and recommend two steps discovered by its community members to temporarily get around the random USB issues.

So where do we stand?

At best, if your country has specific laws against such warranty voids, you can freely swap the thermal pads. You may have to get variable size thermal pads depending on the version you’ve purchased. In the US, these are the options that are available.

In other countries- either we risk voiding the warranty to save a perfectly working card, or just put pressure on Nvidia and its AIC partners individually. Unfortunately, it is at your discretion and potentially losing multiple years of warranty.

The Right to Repair and Right to Self Maintain

The Right to Self Repair is something that’s started in the United States due to issues with Apple products and TeslaX. But its consequences apply to everything that can be purchased. Also, changing thermal paste and thermal pads on a GPU is not as complex as Apple products or Tesla cars. The simple question is: If you’re disassembling for maintaining and not altering or damaging anything on the PCB, why should something as simple as changing the thermal paste and thermal pad void the warranty? This applies to all graphics cards, and even M.2 SSDs since some come with heatspreaders with thermal pads.

This might be just one issue with thermal pads but it’s not new. Warranties last as high as four to five years, all the more reason to have clarification about self-maintenance. Whether it’s a specific issue with a variant or a batch of graphics cards (and laptops) or widespread, bad thermal paste and thermal pad application is common. The natural assumption by enthusiasts is that most aftermarket thermal pads should be much better than the stock thermal pads. That’s true, but how bad are these?

These are ones that are available in the retail market:

There are a few more companies that make thermal pads- Thermalright, Arctic Cooling and Grizzly. The spacing between VRAM varies depending on the graphics card so you’ll have to eyeball it. It is better to change the thermal pads on the VRMs and on the contacts under the backplate.

Damn if you do! Damn if you don’t.. depending on where you live!

This is worrying because end users spend so much money on graphics cards with supposedly good GPU coolers costing atleast 100$ (‘allegedly’) with all the bells and whistles and RGB, not spending on a good enough thermal pad and thermal paste but threatening warranty voids prevent damage or maintenance is something we need to talk about. Especially when companies say they have no control over price increase but don’t give a resolution to an ever-increasing problem that can be solved easily. This is a community-driven enthusiast space.

  1. The PDF on microns site for GDDR6 shows Tjunction to be 100c. it does not specify what the Tjunc is for Gddr6x, I don’t know where you’re getting these numbers for 95c. Their own chart says operating temps are 0-95c+ meaning it can be higher?? I guess, and those numbers are only showing for GDDR6 not GDDR6x.

    1. Click on that Micron link, scroll down where it says “Density”, Operating temperature for GDRR6X is 0c to +95c. The link I posted there is for GDDR6X, not GDDR6. The only mention of that is in the comparison table.

  2. Just out of curiosity – somewhat unrelated as not a 30xx card. I have a old Zotac GTX 1080ti blower – Would it similarly benefit from a thermal pad replacement by way of lowering operation temps? Also, I replaced my CPU’s (8700K) thermal paste with TG Conductanaut liquid metal. What advice regarding doing similarly with my GPU or is it more trouble than it’s worth? I have a sub 20 litre air-cooled itx set-up.

    1. Personally, I never tried it. The last time I heard someone change is when they bought a liquid cooler block that usually comes with it.

      It would make it a bit cooler depending on the condition of the stock thermal paste and pads. Ideally, if it looks out of shape, torn, higher temps on the VRAM, it’s best to change it. Even something like Arctic Cooling’s thermal pad should good a long way in terms of better cooling.

  3. Thank you. I meant to ask regarding the thickness of potential thermal pad replacements. I understand from the FE edition, uses two thicknesses of pads at various locations, which seems a bit concerning if the wrong thickness is used on one, could it lead to no or little contact to the others?

    1. Yes. Many have three since there are three main places thermal pads are put- VRM, VRAM and the soldered points for these two and the core at the back of the PCB where the backplate is installed. This depends on the graphics card you’re buying. if yours has two, you just need to change those.

      You need to buy the thickness closest to the one it already being used. When you measure it and if it’s 1.3-1.2mm, you need to buy the 1.5mm. If it’s 0.3-0.4- the original pad is 0.5mm since it gets pressure seated. Of course, this also depends on the softness of the original thermal pads so you’ll need to eyeball it. Buying a smaller one does more harm than good Thermal pads gets sandwich between the PCB and the GPU cooler/ backplate. So it needs some amount of pressure on it for proper dissipation.

  4. The link with max temps for GDDR6X is wrong, the 95°C only apply for GDDR6…
    The GDDR6X had a 110°C limit for safe use and is demonstrated many times when people with Asus cards have thermal trotting from 110°C, NOT 95°C.

    Not artifacts or other problems when GDDR6X reaches 110°C.

    This article is publi report for clickbyte xD

    1. Had you clicked on the link and scrolled downwards, you would have seen the maximum operating temperature.

      Scroll wheel is your friend. Kindly scroll down and see the maximum operating temperature.

      Also, it is very preferable if components function well within their maximum operating temperatures with the hopes that it ensures a long lifespan.

      If you still think Micron is wrong about its own product ratings, nobody can help you. r/hardware/ r/nvidia and r/pcmasterrace has ample reports from end-users which starts with VRAMs exceeding 100c on the Micron GDDR6X rams used on RTX 3090 and RTX 3080. Samsung only makes up to GDDR6.

      This one of the recent worse case scenarios where the replacement unit for an RTX 3090 was RTX 3080, and that Nvidia refused to listen:


      This issue started because of overheating VRAM, followed by its stock thermal pads giving it away. This includes FE and also some AIC variants, if not all. But if you choose to ignore it, nobody can help you.

      1. Igor’s Lab already did some serious experimentation and explanation on this topic. They established the max Tjunction Temp is around 105c-110c for GDDR6X. At 120c is where you can start damaging the chip, but the safety measures don’t let it go that far on most, if not all, cards. Do I believe him over Micron? You bet (unless Micron specifically makes worst cards than everyone else). And over you? Even more so (only replying like this cause of your ridiculously snappy reply to the other guy… super unprofessional).

        Igor’s link: https://www.igorslab.de/en/gddr6x-am-limit-ueber-100-grad-bei-der-geforce-rtx-3080-fe-im-chip-gemessen-2/

        1. And over you? Even more so (only replying like this cause of your ridiculously snappy reply to the other guy… super unprofessional).

          You got the response based on the tone you started this conversation. If you see the conversations with others, I respected that person’s tone and the query & responded accordingly. Ask yourself- why is that? If you choose to be rude with no provocation, nobody has the obligation to accept that. You accused me, claiming I made a clickbaity article when it was an official quote from Nvidia. It’s called Headline for a reason. You have to click to read further. But you failed to understand that back then. You still fail at the issue this news post is showing.

          Once again:
          This was more about the issues that multiple users faced with FE and some non-reference RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 variants. In most countries, opening the graphics card voids warranty and not everyone will be comfortable changing the thermal pads on their own. In countries like the United States where it is illegal to enforce warranty void stickers unless the alterations are the direct result of the damage, but that’s not the case everywhere. Regardless, you’d want the companies to use good thermal pads that cool down the components well under their operating temperature.

          It was also about Nvidia’s readiness/ awareness of this issue and asking for a solution. They didn’t have any. They didn’t have any response to the issues piling up on subreddits and forums.

          You chose not to read the parts that mattered. On top of it, you said the operating temperature on the Micron GDDR6X was wrong, rather it’s the GDDR6 memory. When that is corrected, you come back with Igor’s lab article. Nobody will dismiss Igor lab’s article just because it is not quoted here. But this is about the bad thermal pad. It fails to do what it’s supposed to do.


          (unless Micron specifically makes worst cards than everyone else).

          Micron makes memory chips. They didn’t make the whole card. Since you didn’t know about that, fun fact! Micron owns Crucial! xD

  5. My Asus Tuf 3080 scares me. It runs at coolest 104 often hits 112 and does not thermal throttle which really worries me. It’s in a Corsair 700 (?) Airflow edition full ATX case and my office does not get above 72 F. The Main chip stays nice and cool but that 6x mem not causing thermal throtteling really worries me. Asus told me since im in the US that I could either send them the card to replace the pads or they would send me pads and do it myself. I’m not using their crappy pads, but I can’t wait to see what they send just so i can find out what brand they use (if they are in manufacturer packing though probably not). Pads I bought will be here tomorrow. Will be a simple fix. The expensive Fuji Poly pads I normally use on my GPU’s aren’t instock so I am trying Thermalright Extreme Odyssey pads based on heavy recommendations from friends as their #2 choice since they havent been able to get the good fuji polys either. Wish me luck as I have seen some people post that their asus tuf cards have only dropped 3-4 degrees (though I think they were using cheap low W/mK thermal conductivity).
    Thanks for the great artical and confronting nvidia and the aib’s regarding this debacle and their clear disrespect for their customers that give them so much money and the best profits they have ever seen for substandard parts.

    1. Anytime. I was expecting a better response from Nvidia initially, though. I am sure wiser folks in the management in Nvidia would have given a better response. I remember when one of EVGA’s GPUs were known to overheat because of fewer pads and they provided the options to take it back for reapplication or would ship the remaining thermal pads to the consumers. It is a minor inconvenience, but it is the similar outcome I was hoping for. Despite everything that’s happening in subreddits, I am rather shocked Nvidia chooses not to respond.

  6. I now am up to 6 3090’s FE from Dell. I would upload the photos of the thermal tape missing on some chips, some chips half covered. It is really a scam and NVidia doesn’t care. They can’t even apply the garbage thermal tape they are using on the chips….. I have posted pics in Reddit of how badly the tape is applied (if they even remember)

  7. Mentioned here already. Look at igorslab translate it to english if you have to. He has reported on several (potential) issues from launch and many of them are a problems today. VRM Temps and melting/ leaking standard thermal pads is just one of them. Weather design flaws, bad communication, new or revisioned versions of the cards are just temporary patches. He has reported most issues where others ignored them. Although limited by various factors and by testing capacity (samples). Findings and analyses are far better and build on previous observations. He has no benefit in obscuring facts as much is driven by a lot of community support.

    The fact that the RMA % is still high (depending on the brand) and the amount of actual owners who use the cards in a semi/professional way is small even today. Consider also the cost and amount of time you lose the card and the returned card in most cases is not new. Mostly with identical problems or other ones. Why should u use RMA unless the card is 100% dead.

    The Temps are a problem even when in manufacturing spec and definitely when high temps are hold for a long time. Maybe the required hours use before failing are met for the memory. Prolonging them or broader implications on other components etc. are overseen. At best/worst they hold on until after the warranty period and you the customer are the dumbest and have nothing to stand on.

    I’ve cooled down temperatures by 1/3 to 1/2 on the memory while under long loads compared to the stock cooling. Core temps even more and invested a hefty amount. Most users would not do that or should do that on a top card with a price card like it has. Investing less in RGB looks and marketing would bring things to a more acceptable level for all users. More in line with previous generations.

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