Following multiple reports of third-party Nvidia RTX 3080 card crashes, PC builders are now trying to figure out how many capacitors are in their new GPU.
That’s right: capacitors. On Friday, worried shoppers stumbled upon a theory for crashes: a site called Igor’s Lab speculated that Nvidia’s partners were reducing the capacitors used in their third-party RTX 3080s. And over the weekend, that theory spread: numerous outlets were mentioned Igor’s Lab publish headlines such as “NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Stability Issues Causing Cheap Capacitors”
The next day, it transpired that there may actually be some evidence that the capacitors could have caused the boards to crash. EVGA touched on the RTX 3080 capacitor controversy on Saturday, citing their own issues with the capacitor layout originally used in its RTX 3080 boards, although the company claims it never shipped the original layout to customers. On that note, EVGA explained that while a design with six POSCAPs “cannot pass real-world application tests,” they later tried a design with four POSCAPs and 20 MLCCs that performed better.
Such as Tom’s Hardware explains, there are typically two types of capacitors found under the chip of a modern GPU: MLCC and POSCAPS. Both capacitors reportedly have pros and cons; MLCC is smaller but offers better performance at higher clock speeds. POSCAPS are bigger but aren’t as good when running at high clock speeds.
At this point, we don’t actually know if the capacitors are causing these crashes, but the question has certainly prompted the industry to answer: MSI, Gigabyte and Zotac have all made statements claiming that capacitors are not the problem and that the new Nvidia i drivers can solve any stability problems in the cards. This is also Nvidia’s position, and today they released a new driver to address stability issues with the RTX 30 line of GPUs.
PC World reports that one of its tabs that previously crashed doesn’t do so after the update. The outlet had a pre-production EVGA GeForce RTX 3080 FTW3 for review, which had the original capacitors instead of the ones shipped to resellers. PC World notes that there is a trade-off: the update “slightly throttles” the maximum GPU boost clock speed.