Baking a Graphics Card
I got an iMac in 2008 with a Nvidia GeForce 8800 GS graphics card. After about 2 years, the computer crashed. There were some strange vertical green lines on the screen and it froze on boot. Of course, I hadn’t bought Applecare.
It was going to cost $500 to replace the card. That was more than I wanted to spend, so I just left the thing sitting in it’s box.
2 more years go by.
Then, by some strange circumstance, I happened to be reading about people who baked their graphics cards in the oven and brought them back to life.
The theory is that over time, the solder (metallic stuff that holds the connections together) gets weak and eventually separates a little – causing the graphics card to fail. Baking it in the oven should re-melt the solder back together and fix the problem.
Since I had nothing else to lose, I decided to give it a try.
The first step was to dismantle the iMac and get the graphics card out. Luckily, there are some good online resources that show how to do that.
Eventually I got the graphics card out and onto a baking sheet – it was ready.
From what I read, it should bake for 10 min. at 375º F. So, that’s what I did.
After it cooled, I began the laborious process of putting it back together. I finally plugged it in and booted it up – to see if it was worth all that trouble.
19 days later, the symptoms returned. So, I took it all apart again, re-baked the graphics card (at 400ºF this time), re-assembled the iMac, and the system booted just fine.
At this point I figured the iMac was just overheating, so I installed Fan Control to boost the internal fan speed. I also started using an external fan to help with air flow.
It hasn’t stopped running since (it’s been almost 2 years).
Well, it finally broke down (third time’s the charm), and re-baking the card was the cure once again.
When I opened up the case, it was packed full of dust – probably why it overheated.