04-04-2013 10:32 AM
Hey Hans, funny you mention this method. The other day I read about a similar solution, maybe a little less extreme though. Just use a hair dryer and do several passes hoping for some loose soldering points to reconnect again. The problem is I don't even know what's wrong with my video card but you are right, I have nothing to loose and might give it a try
Still waiting for the refurbished Quadro to arrive from HK.
04-05-2013 03:05 AM - edited 04-05-2013 12:31 PM
"nothing to lose..."
Unless, during the reflow process, you accidentally bridge a circuit on the GPU card that fries your motherboard.
Pepe, hopefully you don't dry your hair with a hair dryer that can melt solder! Solder melts at ~360 deg F, about 200 deg F above the temperature required to burn your scalp! But I realize you're talking about hot-air guns, which resemble hair dryers.
Hans, you can't generalize by saying that the cause of failure for most GPUs is heat-related loosening of soldier joints. That's a specific known design/manufacturing defect with some models of GPUs, and reflow may at least temporarily relieve the problem in some of those cases. Those are the reflow stories you see on the web.
But that's certainly not the case with all models of GPUs (even the video in the link you provided concluded it was not the case with their GPU, in which reflow failed). 3700M cards contain many components, including video RAM, those components have non-zero failure rates, and integrated circuits fail in many different ways. I can't find anyone who's said they've reflowed a 3700M, for example, and brought it back to life. If you find any such stories for the 3700M, please post a link, because it would certainly be relevant to this thread. Maybe Pepe will be the first!
Plus, when reflowing works on a given piece of equipment, it's often a temporary fix, in many cases needs to be repeated, and only works a few times at best. And it can warp cards, melt various components/connectors, and components can slide around on the card once their solder melts. I wouldn't want to rely on reflowed equipment for my work, doing demos, etc.: "Sorry, I'll have to come back again in a few days to give you the demo, after I've put my GPU card back in the toaster oven!"
Anyway, it's an interesting topic of discussion. I even ran across someone who supposedly fixed their video card by running 3Dmark! Plus I saw this place that supposedly does component-level board repair for computers (the written description is more interesting than the video, although the author could use a spell-checker).
But I think Hans is right in that these problems are heat-related. Cooler electronics live longer, the 3700M is the hottest-running part in the W700, so it's probably no coincidence that it's one of the most likely parts to fail in the W700. It's best to keep the rear of the machine elevated 1/4" or so to improve airflow. And to make sure at least once a year that the vents are clean, especially the little slits on the bottom of the base below the two fans, which clog with dust that is so hard to see (I prefer vacuuming them out with the crevice tool of a vacuum cleaner a couple times a year, rather than blowing the dust into the laptop with compressed air, unless you're going to disassemble the laptop and clean it from the inside -- and make sure the laptop is turned off and unplugged from everything). There's not much else you can do, and at least the machine has a good cooling system.
04-05-2013 03:53 PM
hahaha! I'm bald since around my 20s so my experince with a hair dryer is long gone, let alone having one in hand so if I try to reflow the GPU, that would be using my oven. As for fixing some video card related problems, I've seen videos of people using a hair dryer. Not sure of what it does but in some cases the problem gets fixed.
If I have time, I'll give it a go tomorrow so stay tunned
04-05-2013 05:33 PM
You might throw a chicken in there at the same time, to kill two birds with one stone. Plus it would give the meat that charred circuit-board taste, which I like.
If you want to minimize your chance of ending up with a burnt tortilla chip for a GPU, you might check this thread, which includes a temperature profile for lead-free solder.
04-07-2013 09:04 AM - last edited on 04-07-2013 10:11 AM by andyP
10 minutes @ 200 degrees C. and this is the result...
Holy cow, IT WORKED!
Using the black painted metal square from the back of the Quadro as a flat and strong surface, I added 4 small cubes made out of aluminum foil. Everything was resting on aluminum foil as well and all this on top of the oven's tray. I waited for the oven to get to 200 degrees C. (392 F.) and inserted the card. Once the 10 minutes passed, I turned off the oven and opened up the door just a little so the temperature would cool down slowly. After a couple of minutes I opened the door all the way and waited a few more minutes. After that, I moved the tray out and left it without even touching the card for about 2 hours. I couldn't tell any kind of strong burning or solder melting smell and I'm not sure how much toxic stuff was left on the oven after the reflow. Considering how many hormons and pesticide animals and vegetables get these days, I don't think it's a big deal.
Anyways, I put the video card back inside the W700 and turned it on. Since I don't have thermal paste (just the remainings on the fan that probably don't do anything) I didn't want the OS to load. As soon as the ThinkPad startup screen showed up, I took a picture and forced the computer to shut down. That was enough for me to see if there was some life left inside of the original Quadro.
Next week the extra Quadro will arrive and I'll buy some Arctic Silver 5 to do some temperature tests with GPU-Z on both cards. I was obviously lucky as whatever problem it had, got partially solved. And I say partially because it probably wont last long but it's interesting to see this kind of crazy methods do actually work. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO REFLOW YOUR VIDEO CARD GPU ON THE OVEN unless its warranty already expired, you are certain it doesn't work and you are thinking about throwing it to the trash.
Good I didn't have a hair dryer near by or I'll still be applying heat to the GPU
Moderator note; picture(s) totalling >50K converted to link(s) Forum Rules
04-08-2013 02:51 PM
Hey, that is great news!
I have read that the reflow is just a temporary fix, that will last a few months maybe. However, this may so when the root cause to the problem is not adressed. That is the heat buildup causing the solder to loosen. If nothing is done to remedy the situation, the problem will come back.
If you do as you say, get some nice cooling paste, be careful not to run the laptop hot. Also a laptop cooler can be a wortwhile investment.
Besides CPU-Z to monitor GPU temperatures, you could also try HWMonitor (also from the producer of CPU-Z), or Speedfan.
I have a Lenovo W700, but with the Quadro FX 2700M GPU. Thankfully no issues so far.
I am having issues with a HP HDX 9000 prosumer laptop. Running it hard (ie. games) will overheat the GPU (ATI HD 2600 XT). I did install a bios update recently that seemed to run the GPU at a lower voltage, thus improving the situation.
Good luck with your "baked" graphics card!
04-14-2013 04:03 PM
Thank you for documenting your experience in replacing your FX3700M. I am experiencing the same problem as you in sourcing a reasonably-priced card with a workable vBios.
I had a chance to review the entire message thread related to your initial posting. Many vBios numbers were mentioned and some later corrected. For the benefit of all, please confirm that the following is an accurate summary of vBios that will work for the W700 / W700ds from Lenovo and HP: