Some owners of Gigabyte GeForce RTX 30 series graphics cards have encountered the problem that the graphics card circuit boards break in the place of the latch holding the accelerator in the PCIe slot. From previous reports it is known that the manufacturer does not recognize such cases as a guarantee, since we are dealing with mechanical damage to the graphics card and here it is difficult to prove that the card owner used full support for the graphics card to avoid sagging avoid.
Your opinion on the stated problem and its probable cause divided Twitter user 0xcats, experienced in PCB design. User reviews as well as photos confirm that the graphics card circuit boards have cracks where the PCIe bracket is located. As modern graphics cards become larger and heavier with each generation, this area of the board is subject to significant stress from the weight of the accelerator after the graphics card is installed in the PCIe x16 slot. However, this is only part of the problem. According to 0xcats, the main reason could be a design flaw in Gigabyte graphics card circuit boards.
As 0xcats points out, Gigabyte has opted to give its graphics card PCBs a higher cutout for the PCIe bracket, effectively turning this tiny area of the board into a secondary flex point. In the photo below, the specialist noted the area of \u200b\u200bthe greatest deformation, covering the area of \u200b\u200bthe hole for installing the element for fastening the cooling system to the printed circuit board. According to 0xcats, there is no revelation here as it is a well-documented issue that PCB designers have known about for years.
Why Gigabyte’s engineers decided to make the PCIe bracket cutout higher than the standard cutout is a question that needs to be answered. According to 0xcats, the manufacturer may have taken this step because he assumed that the stability of the design could be offset by the higher bars on the PCIe slot on modern motherboards. All photos of cracked circuit boards provided by users have one thing in common: in the area of the mounting hole, cracks appear in the area of the cooling system of the graphics card, which is responsible for cooling the memory and fastening the rear pressure plate of the GPU. According to 0xcats, this is the result of overstressing the narrowest part of the circuit board.
Printed circuit boards are made up of many layers, each of which contains wires for signal transmission between different components of the graphics card. Even a slight bend in the circuit board can break these lines. According to 0xcats, circuit boards have several potential problems. The most important are the GPU area and the cooling system mounting holes. The farther the weight of the accelerator is from the mounting holes, the greater the likelihood of flexing.
To solve the PCB cracking problem, 0xcats came up with several ideas. First, all critical signal lines must be removed from the PCIe bracket area. In addition, it is necessary to minimize the cutout of the latch itself to increase the footprint and to reinforce all layers of the circuit board area of the latch itself with copper.
Many modern graphics cards come with complete stands that are designed to prevent the accelerator from sagging. According to 0xcats, these stands are not as effective as the special brackets installed on the back of large graphics card models a few generations ago, which used elements of a computer case as a fulcrum, ensuring more secure fixation of the video card.
By the way, the same Gigabyte recently released an updated GeForce RTX 4090 WindForce V2 24G model, equipped with a completely new graphics card holder.
Unlike other brackets that are typically installed in the bottom expansion slots of the case under the graphics card or are made in the form of stands, the GeForce RTX 4090 WindForce V2 24G bracket attaches to holes in the motherboard.