Is your Nvidia RTX 3080 crashing? The company has released a new software driver for the graphics card amid user reports certain third-party designs for the product will cause PC games to abruptly shut down.
According to Nvidia, the new 456.55 Game Ready driver should “improve stability” for the RTX 3000-series cards, which launched earlier this month. However, the company isn’t really diving into the controversy over whether certain OEM designs for the GPUs are prone to crashing when the boost clock speed exceeds 2.0 GHz.
“Regarding partner board designs, our partners regularly customize their designs and we work closely with them in the process,” the company told PCMag in a statement without elaborating.
The stability issues have been emerging in user forums for days now, with affected PC owners saying they own RTX 3080 models from vendors including MSI and Zotac. The card is supposed to run at a 1.4 GHz base clock speed. However, the boost clock speed can reach 1.7 GHz or higher depending on the model and how the overclocking has been configured.
Then over the weekend, graphics card maker EVGA shed some light on the situation; the company revealed the RTX 3080 can fail to pass real-world testing conditions using a certain design configuration. Specifically, the vendor pointed to the graphics card’s capacitors, which are used to store energy
EVGA discovered that using six Conductive Polymer Tantalum Solid Capacitors (POSCAPs) with the RTX 3080 could lead to errors. So to address the problems, the company incorporated several Multilayer Ceramic Chip Capacitors (MLCCs) into the final design.
“It took almost a week of R&D effort to find the cause and reduce the POSCAPs to 4 and add 20 MLCC caps prior to shipping production boards,” EVGA wrote in the company’s forum post on Saturday. “This is why the EVGA GeForce RTX 3080 FTW3 series was delayed at launch.”
The company went on to add it never shipped any RTX 3080 FTW3 models with the six POSCAPs configuration to actual consumers. That all said, the capacitor issue may not explain all the problems with Nvidia’s new graphics cards. One user in Nvidia’s official forum wrote they encountered the crash problems while using an EVGA RTX 3080 XC model.
The capacitor concerns were also brought up by PC review site Igor’s Lab, which noticed Nvidia’s own Founders Edition RTX 3080 cards don’t appear to suffer from the problem, possibly because the product uses MLCC capacitors. Meanwhile, other cards from third-party vendors have no MLCCs or too few, which is causing consumers to worry RTX 3080 units from OEM manufacturers may be an inferior product.
For now, Nvidia is remaining mum on whether the capacitor configuration is the source of the errors. But it noted: “The appropriate number of POSCAP vs. MLCC groupings can vary depending on the design and is not necessarily indicative of quality.”
In the meantime, there’s evidence to show Nvidia’s new driver does slow down the clock speeds of the RTX 3080 likely to offset the crashing problems. PCWorld tested the driver and found it did limit an EVGA RTX 3080 card to a max boost speed of just under 2.0 GHz.
We’ve reached out to Asus, MSI and Zotac about the stability issues and we’ll update the story if we hear back. We also plan on testing third-party RTX 3080 cards for performance and crashing problems, so stay tuned for our reviews.