An unusual and surprising number of Gigabyte owners have experimented with PCB cracks in their graphics cards. The preliminary case seems to be limited to the GeForce RTX 30 series (Ampere). However, there are claims that the issue also extends to his latest GeForce RTX 40 series (Ada Lovelace), which includes some of the best graphics cards on the market.twitter user 0x catReportedly with PCB design experience, he shares his theories on existing problems.
User feedback, photos, and eBay listings confirm that Gigabyte graphics cards show cracks, mostly near the PCIe lock tab. Modern graphics cards are getting longer and bigger, putting a lot of strain on that area of the PCB. Looking at the graphics card, we can see that a good portion of the heatsink extends beyond the PCIe connector. However, that is only part of the cause of the problem. 0xcats hypothesizes this issue and we agree with his analysis.
As 0xcats pointed out, Gigabyte used a higher cutout on the PCB edge tabs, turning that small area into a small pivot point on the graphics card’s PCB. The 0xcats diagram shows the highest strain zones on the PCB, including the PTH (plated through holes) and sections along the cutouts. 0xcats acknowledged that this is not a revolutionary revelation as this is a well-documented issue his PCB designers have known for years.
Why Gigabyte chose a cutout higher than standard measurements remains a mystery. According to 0xcats, one possible explanation is that the manufacturer may have adopted a design that compensates for the tall PCIe latches on the connector. All the photos provided by the user have one thing in common with him. Cracks can be seen near the mounting holes in the memory cooler’s frame plate and backplate. 0xcats assessed this to be the result of excessive stress in the narrowest part of his PCB.
It may not be visible, but PCBs are thin and even the slightest bend can affect their integrity. 0xcats noted that strain exists along his GPU area and heatsink PTH, creating shear zones at the corners. Users likened the effect to scissors. Displacement increases with distance from the hole.
There is a way to fix problems with Gigabyte graphics cards. First, 0xcats believes it is important not to route critical traces through the affected area. Instead of expanding the cutout area, vendors should shrink the cutout area as much as possible for two reasons. One to increase the narrowest part of her PCB and two to allow all his PCB layers to be filled with copper.
Modern graphics cards are larger than they used to be. Many of them come with supports to prevent sagging. 0xcats believes vendors should bring back the rear-end graphics card bracket that secures the graphics card to the case. No flashy graphics card holder available today offers the same level of support as a bracket. Gigabyte has implemented a similar anti-slack bracket on his one of his GeForce RTX 4090 graphics cards, a revised version that sticks to the old-fashioned design.
Unfortunately, the PCB crack is only present on previous generation Gigabyte GeForce RTX 30 series graphics cards, so this issue may not have received enough attention. The size of the GeForce RTX 40 series models has increased significantly. Unless Gigabyte fixes the flaws in the previous design, it may be a matter of time before new Ada-based graphics cards appear.