A recent teardown of a RTX 2080 Ti has revealed that GPU sag may be damaging DRAM chips on 20 and 30 series RTX graphics cards.

The RTX 2080 Ti, one of the best graphics cards available in 2018, reportedly commonly die late in their lives due to heavy stress caused by GPU sag.

Above can be seen a custom 3D printed GPU support bracket.

GPU sag is caused by the weight of a graphics cards cooler causing the card to sag downwards when mounted horizontally. Usually, the end of the card opposite its IO shield has the most deflection downwards. This has almost always happened to those using very large and heavy graphics cards. Recently, those repairing graphics cards have noticed a trend developing: sag is starting to cause cards to die after 3-4 years of use.

Sag causes the graphics cards PCB to flex, which puts stress on the various components soldered on to the card. Unfortunately, those components – such as DRAM chips – don’t flex with the PCB. That leads to the solder connections to fail on the DRAM chips and lead to a card that doesn’t work as intended. The DRAM chips are situated closer to the PCI-E connector, the pace where the most PCB flex is to be expected.

Solder connections can also be broken by the repeated heating and cooling cycles graphics cards are subjected to over years of use. Fortunately this isn’t too common and is more a contributing factor to failed solder connections than a direct cause.

There are a couple things one can do to prevent graphics card sag. The first is to get an anti-sag bracket, the name says it all. The bracket helps prevent sag by physically holding up the graphics card on the opposite end of the IO shield. Anti-sag brackets are often included with high-end graphics cards, motherboards, and chassis. The second option when looking to prevent sag is to simply mount the graphics cards vertically. This requires both a chassis with provisioning for vertical mounting and a PCI-e riser cable. Riser cables usually come with the chassis, but can also be purchased separately, it is used to connect the card to its PCI-e slot from the vertical mount position.

Overall, when it comes to graphics card sag, its best avoided by supporting or mounting the card in such a way as to prevent it from happening in the first place. Bear in mind this is only really needed with cards big enough to cause enough sag to worry about. Even if your card is sagging and working fine, be warned sag may be placing stress on the card which may end up reducing its lifespan.

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