Baking a Graphics Card

gpu

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.

gpu_01

Eventually I got the graphics card out and onto a baking sheet – it was ready.

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From what I read, it should bake for 10 min. at 375º F. So, that’s what I did.

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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.

gpu_04

It worked.

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.

gpu_05

The result?

It hasn’t stopped running since (it’s been almost 2 years).

Update 03/04/2014

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.

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23 responses to “Baking a Graphics Card”

  1. Michael Keller (@rellek_m) says :

    Did you use fresh heatsink compound for both the graphics chip and its memory chips?

    • macman860 says :

      Yeah, I used some arctic silver 5 between the heatsink and the gpu. I didn’t do anything about the memory chips – there was some white putty on there that I just re-used.

      • Michael Keller (@rellek_m) says :

        So far my iMac’s alive again. My GPU Diode temp is runing around 75C with a game up and a video running. Crossing fingers. Thanks for your post leading the way.

      • macman860 says :

        Cool. Good luck. I also have an external fan blowing air horizontally past the iMac to help with air flow…Not sure if it’s really needed though.

  2. Briana says :

    Hey Macman860, I just ran across your blog shortly after I did it myself. I took my GOD same one by the way and put it in the oven for 10 minutes for 390degress = 200degrees celcius. I’m logging this on your site for future macheads to refer to. I also have put a fan behind the unit to try and keep it cool. I experienced vertical lines on my screen causing it to not even load OS. After baking I get a clean beautiful picture. Happy Baking!

  3. Ian says :

    Hi Macman,

    Thanks for this post, my 2009 27inc iMac had the same symptoms, I baked my card only for 6 minutes and it worked like a charm.

    Thanks Allot!

  4. D.C says :

    Hi, Guys Ive done this as well with a 2008 iMac/8800GS Card, I hope it lasts! But I am speechless that it worked first time 200c 10 mins!
    Thanks Dougie C

  5. RealMAC says :

    Today i fixed my nvidia card on my imac. 2 times in the oven for 10 minutes, 15 minutes pause in between baking with card outside of the oven. Thanks!

  6. SK says :

    Worked for me on a 2008 iMac/3.06 Hz /Nvidia 8800GS where the screen continually turned black on start up and the computer shut down.
    200°F, 10 min with slow cool down in oven (door slightly open).
    Computer has been functioning fine for three weeks.

  7. Albert says :

    It worked for me as well!
    My iMac 27 Late’09 with the ATI Raedon HD 4850 had the typical symptoms with these bars. At the begging they were annoying and they appeared after some work with the imac. At the end the imac started to reset when the bars appeared and finally it was impossible to wake up it.

    I found this blog doing some research and as I had already experience opening it (I replaced the DVD and replaced with a 128Gb SSD), I was brave enough to remove the graphic card and bake it. I thought, the iMac is not working anymore, what’s the worst case scenario on melting the “shit and bad designed” graphic card?

    I pre-warmed the oven at 200 Celsius and I baked it during 10 min. The card was enveloped with oven-paper special for backing. I did not put any condiments, just the RAW Graphic card. Before puting it again into the iMac I did some cleaning with my vacuum. I removed all the durst that was almost merged spinning fan.
    I put all together (this time only one screw left…) and Magic! it came to live! And to celebrate it and taking advantage that the oven was already work, I cook a good steak, that for sure the smell was much better that the smell of burned electronics.

    The sad news it that now I do not have any excuse to buy myself the Imac 27 Retina! Unfortunately with 16gb of RAM, 128 SSD and the 1TB for data, this computer manages quite well my RAW files from my 6D.

    I will write back if it goes through the tunnel again to see the light at the end of the tunnel, of course light made of color’s bars.

  8. Brian says :

    Hi, thanks for posting this helpful information! I’m about to try baking my card to resurrect my 24″ iMac with the same 8800 GS 512mb card. One question, the back side of my video card has a thin strip of black foam glued down next to the square metal bracket, running along the edge. It is not going to come off without a fight, so I was wondering if you had the same, and whether you removed it or just baked it with it on. Thanks!

    • Barry says :

      How did you go Brian ? I am about to do the same to my old 24″ iMac with 8800 GS 512mb card. Did you remove the thin strip of foam ? How did it all go ?

  9. John says :

    Hey, thanks so much for posting this.
    I noticed that full screen videos were starting to hang, then I got these horizontal artifacts all over the screen – looked like the Mac was trying to play breakout, lol. Then it just started rebooting. It would work for an hour, then 15 mins and then it was toast. I had no idea what was going on, but figured the video card was going out. After finding your post, I took it apart and baked the video card at 380 fahrenheit for 8 mins. I found another post that the guy was letting it ‘cool down slowly’ by turning off the oven and opening the oven door a bit for a half hour.
    I thought that might be a bit too long. I had a feeling that if it was in the oven that long, either the solder would start to creep or it would just start to melt the processor.
    I really didn’t think it would work, but after putting everything back together, I have a nicely working 2008 iMac again!
    I’m not sure how long it’ll last, but a used video card for this machine is almost 300 bucks, which is crazy.
    The fact that you said you can re-bake it several times gives me some hope that if it goes out again, I’ll just get more practice taking apart the mac.
    I found an app called Macs Fan Control. Similar to SMC and the one you’re using.
    I figure that’s going to be key to keeping this thing cool enough to stop melting the GPU connections.
    Thanks again!

  10. Jim Fuquay says :

    Amazing that this fix works, but just revived our 2008 24″ iMac. Just under 400 degrees F for 10 minutes. Put the Nvidia 8800 on folded parchment paper to avoid putting it directly on metal or aluminum foil. Now, what to do with it since we went out and bought a new iMac after I decided I didn’t want to spend $400 to fix the old machine? Think I’ll look at the temperature apps to see if it that might help avoid future problems, but who knows.

    • QT says :

      I just successfully brought back my late 2009 iMac by baking the Radeon 4850 video card. I did 385 F for 10 minutes. Replacement card would have cost $300. I’m glad to hear that you can re-bake multiple times if the problem comes back. I wish they could design these things to run cooler so this doesn’t happen so often. My local Mac repair shop said this is a very common problem.

  11. Gilb. says :

    Just revived my 8800GS card in my 2008 IMac for the second time. I did bake for 10 mins at 390F. The first time I did only 6 mins and it lasted about 3 months. For the second time, I did use istat and turned up the fan a little to cool down the temperatures. The GPU is now below 60C when running. Normally below 55C. It’s been a month and a half now.
    Great and fun to repair if you like to open up electronics.

    • Gilb. says :

      Update: It’s been almost a year now and the Imac is still running. Getting the fan a little faster to reduce heat when we use it probably keep it from breaking again. The kids are playing some web games getting the iMac CPU up, but it holds. I am writing from this iMac and it is running with no issues.

  12. cbass says :

    iMac (27-inch, Mid 2011) with an AMD Radeon HD 6970M 1GB card revived! My iMac first started showing symptoms by rebooting intermittently. A few days later, the infamous thick bars would appear on the display, at which point the iMac would reboot. The computer would boot back to the desktop and would be usable for a very short period of time before repeating the cycle.

    A replacement graphics card for this model (directly from Apple) will run you about $400, plus labor. For that price, you’re better off getting a re-balled 2GB version of the card on eBay for about $300. I work as a repair tech, so I’m used to digging through the innards of Apple machines. Considering the price for a replacement/repair, I figured what the hell, in the oven you go!

    I preheated the oven and baked the graphics card for about 10-12 minutes @ ~380-390°F (about 200°C). I then let the card cool down for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, I thoroughly cleaned the graphics card heat sink using alcohol pads and also took the time to clean out the rest of iMac. Once the card cooled down, I cleaned the GPU chip and memory modules again (they were cleaned before the card went in the oven) and reapplied the thermal paste/pads. I used Arctic Silver 5- people might say it’s overrated, but it’s always given me the lowest temps on all of my builds. Once all the new thermal material was applied, I reinstalled the graphics card heatsink & reassembled the rest of the machine.

    I plugged the iMac in and powered it on. As soon as I heard the chime and the display turned on (joy!), I reset the PRAM/NVRAM. The iMac power-cycled and then booted successfully to the desktop. So far so good. I let the computer run for a minute or two, rebooted, and ran diagnostics- every component passed except for the HDD temperature sensor. I was already aware of this, as I had upgraded to a 3TB HDD which did not include the port for the temp. cable (this is the case with the majority of non-Apple branded HDDs). This issue can be solved by using fan control/monitoring software, such as HDD/SSD Fan Control. Otherwise, I highly recommend OWC’s In-line Digital Thermal Sensor, which easily attaches to the HDDs current power cable. You can then peel the adhesive on the included thermal sensor and place it directly on the HDD. Regardless of whether you choose the software or hardware fix, they both remedy the sensor issue- or rather, the fan issue (HDD fan spinning at over 4000rpm).

    I’m sorry if I’m going on a bit of a tangent! I had heard/read of people bringing their graphics cards back to life by simply baking them before I began this whole repair. When my iMac started acting up, I figured I would do a quick Google search on baking this particular iMac AMD graphics card and came across this article. Although everyone seems to have different iMac models, the root cause of the issue is the same. It’s awesome to see that the “baking fix” has had success- regardless of the iMac model! That being said, my iMac has been running for nearly a week now with no issues! Keeping my fingers crossed! Thank you for the article, macman860, and thank you to everyone else for sharing their input!

    • cbass says :

      Some follow-up info:

      Post-repair, my average GPU Die temperature is posting at about 45°C during normal use. I ran Unigine Valley Benchmark using all of the “basic” presets, with the exception of selecting 1920×1080 instead of 1280×720 as the resolution. I ran the GPU stress test under these conditions for about 15 minutes. The GPU Die temp slowly began to rise, peaking at around 90°C (I later ran an extended test for about 8 hours and the log indicates that the temperature never exceeded 93°C). Comparing those numbers to my pre-repair temperatures: ~60°C during normal use, 100-105°C during heavy use, I’d say the new thermal compound is working its magic! Although 90°C is on the higher side when it comes to graphics card temperatures, these cards can safely operate up to 100°C under heavy load. I should also mention that the iMac did not crash at any point during the GPU stress testing.

      Judging by the overall temps of the machine, I can definitely see that the repair helped. I’m pretty happy with these temperatures- running the GPU stress test is probably the most… stress… the iMac will experience. The computer is primarily used for day-to-day tasks (email, web, etc.) as well as photo editing using Adobe Photoshop & Lightroom, with some occasional video editing/encoding. I don’t expect to see the GPU temp go above 80°C. If I ever feel uneasy about the GPU temp, I can always get the fans to kick in using iStat Menus (or any other fan control software).

      Tomorrow will mark exactly one week since I re-assembled the machine. It’s been powered on ever since. I’ve saved this page for future reference and will post back with any developments.

  13. David Grass says :

    macman860 I gotta thank you for this tip, if I did it right you saved me over $500. Mine is a late 2009 27″ iMac with the Radeon board. It was already replaced once on warranty and now the warranty card has developed the same issue. I removed the card from the heat sink, cleaned it up and baked it @ 400 for 10 minutes. I used a thermal gun to read the temp on the board when removed and it said 409 degrees. I let it cool naturally, used fresh arctic silver and put it back in the machine. It’s been a week and so far so good.

    As a note, I did find a used graphics card from a 21″ iMac mid 2010. (part # 730-0594) While baking the original I tried this card. It plugged right in and on power up the screen came to life displaying the same resolution as the original card. Physically you have to trade the mounting frame from the original but the card and heat sink fit.

  14. Ryan Fox says :

    Saved my 27″ late 2009. Oven baked the HD4670 for 10 minutes and cooled for 30 with the oven door two thirds open. never thought this would work 0.0

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