A broken graphics card is a pesky little problem, especially a high-end model, as it potentially costs a lot of money down the drain, but there are ways to fix cards and amazing techniques to boot. How to make a hole in paper.
Yes, you read that right, in the case of a broken MSI Radeon RX 6900 XT, an enterprising repair technician, YouTuber KrisFix, who runs a German repair shop and is partly famous for pointing out GPU problems, among other things AMD, drilled a couple of holes in the panel to secure it.
AS Tom’s hardware reports, the RX 6900 XT in question was somewhat operational as it powered up, with the graphics card fans and lights running, it just didn’t output any images to the monitor.
The problem, as deduced by KrisFix, was pinpointed to be a broken “trace” (the tiny bits of wiring) between the actual GPU chip and a memory module.
And the solution was to drill two holes (since the trace was deep inside the board) to solder a wire to connect the memory chip and GPU again. Once that was done and any mess the process caused, KrisFix had a working RX 6900 XT again.
This is a very rare problem that a graphics card experiences, so it’s pretty out of the ordinary, as is the repair job.
Analysis: a complicated repair job and more
Of course this solution isn’t something to try at home, as you might imagine. The level of precision required to make such a repair is demanding and requires a microscope for welding (the drilling has to be done very carefully, of course, and is done by hand, which makes it all the more remarkable).
This is a truly eye-opening repair and one which, as mentioned, requires later tidying up the inevitable collateral damage. As Tom notes, after implementing the new trace, KrisFix needed to re-solder any capacitors damaged in the process and repair any traces on the top of the board that had gotten scratched.
KrisFix tells us, “Track length in this repair is of paramount importance. The fault tolerance is very small. If the length is incorrect, the timing will also be incorrect and the card will not be able to sync and operate at high frequencies.
All in all, it’s a remarkable feat, and demonstrates that even a badly damaged GPU can be saved, which will be great news for anyone who has spent a fortune on a graphics card, and can therefore get more life out of it.
It’s also obviously good news for the environment too, because the longer we can keep our PC hardware running, the better it is, ecologically speaking. If you end up needing to buy a new GPU, don’t forget to check out our picks for the best graphics card.