Dollar signs on POST on nVidia 8800gt and the Bake Fix

My awesome nvidia 8800gt video card was dying, I prolonged its life!

Posted by on November 14, 2013

Recently my video card started acting strangely. It all started suddenly when my screen went black but the monitor had not shut off. I few minutes later it came back on at a much lower resolution than my native 1920x1080. So, I rebooted. That's when I saw dollar signs ($) all over the POST screen. I didn't know what was causing this or why. I began to search the webs.

At first, many posts were saying that it was related to a video card worm that has infected my 8800gt; however, as I read on, most people were saying my video card was beginning to crap out and die. Then I came across a single post that someone wrote about nearly the same thing but they baked it and it fixed the problem.

I thought I could try that, since I have a spare video card, albeit far inferior, lying around. I searched 'video card bake' and read up on it.

Baking your video card:

First, this is not a guarenteed fix. My research into the matter produced mixed results nearing a 50/50 success rate. For some, it worked like a charm, for others it did nothing, and still others said it made the card unbootable. So, do this with a warning: Do this at your own risk.

  1. Pre-heat oven to 385° Fahrenheit.
  2. Unscrew and remove the heat sink and fan – carefully. You may be able to re-use the thermal pads.
  3. Clean the residual thermal compound from the GPU and the memory chips (and anywhere else). I used Q-tips and alcohol, but there are certainly better ways.
  4. Use a cookie sheet, and line it with a sheet of tin foil.
  5. Place the video card GPU-side down on the cookie sheet.
  6. Use three pieces of balled-up tin foil to lift the card from resting directly on the cookie sheet. You do not want the capacitors making contact with anything. I placed one underneath the pci-e power connector and the other two at opposite ends of the mounting bracket.
  7. Make sure it’s nearly level and bake for 8 minutes. Do not bake longer than 10.
  8. Remove and let cool for at least 30 minutes.
  9. Re-apply thermal pads (if not reusing) and apply compound to the GPU.
  10. Re-attach heat sink and fan cover.
  11. Re-install in computer and test.

When I followed the instructions above, my video card was fixed. No longer did I have dollar signs on boot or any other weird artifacts.

Why this works:

The process of mass producing video cards utilizes a soldering technique called reflow soldering. This technique makes the solder points very accurate but also thin. After years of use, some of the solder points can develop hairline cracks unseen to the naked eye. The cracks can cause all sorts of unwanted side-effects. By baking your card in the oven, the solder is re-melted possibly repairing the cracks.

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