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  (Source: Parkoz Hardware)
HP and Dell break out a list of defective NVIDIA GPUs in their respective notebooks

NVIDIA was recently forced to defend itself against allegations that it was preparing to exit the chipset business.  In addition, the company reported weaker than expected earnings, thanks to a charge of $150M USD to $200M USD to cover "defective GPUs" on its mobile offerings.

When this news broke many were curious -- which GPUs were affected and what exactly is the problem?  Well the answer to the latter is relatively simple -- a number of NVIDIA mobile GPUs had extremely poor thermal tolerances thanks to defects.  This leads to early chip death and faulty behaviors, such as artifacting, as chips start to fail.

The answer to the first question -- how many -- is just now becoming clear.  It appears appears that NVIDIA's mobile offerings are much harder hit than initial conservative estimates.  Dell and HP, the two largest computer manufacturers have just released lists of what computers have defective chips.

It turns out virtually all the NVIDIA mobile chips are defective.  NVIDIA tried to brush off the issue stating that the issue was a "previous-generation" problem.  However, it turns out that virtually all 8400M and 8600M chips are defective.  These chips make up the bulk of NVIDIA's higher end graphics offerings.  While NVIDIA started to roll out the first of its 9 series mobile chips, the 8 series represents the flagship line of its mobile offerings.

The low to middle end chips are also virtually all defective.  Among the defective lines are the GeForce Go 7000 and 6000 lines, as well as the Quadro NVS 135M and the Quadro FX 360M.

In order to respond to the problems HP is offering extended warranty support.  Information is available here.  Dell offers a driver fix which attempts to deal with the heat issues by pumping up fan speed, on top of its standard warranty support. 

According to Dell, signs of GPU failure include multiple images, random characters appearing onscreen, lines on the screen, or no video at all.  Dell claims the updates will not affect battery life.  Its new Vostro line of notebooks is shipping with the fix preinstalled.

While Dell's solution may provide a decent stopgap to carry chips outside the warranty, it seems unlikely to be able save the chips from a shorter than average lifetime.  In the end both with Dell and HP the warranty charges will eventually be passed on to NVIDIA.

Also, the fact that the bulk of its mobile GPUs, a major source of business, are defective is also extremely troublesome for the giant.  However, as ATI/AMD showed with its latest series of GPUs, in the graphics industry you can never rule out a comeback.

For those with mobile GPUs from other manufacturers, please refer to their respective pages as many of them have posted or will be posting information on the problems.



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I think they've known this for a while
By gerf on 8/3/2008 8:59:37 PM , Rating: 3
I have an 8600m that I bought last year in the fall. When I got it, after 5 minutes the screen gave me a big fat yellow vertical line through the screen. I assumed that it was of course the screen, and called in my warranty.

They proceeded to go through several steps with me to check if it was the video card or not, which I thought was a bit odd at the time, but let it slide. Well, apparently there was a real reason for them to check the video card first.

Well, at least I have a 3 year warranty on this sucker.




RE: I think they've known this for a while
By GodLovesPunk on 8/3/2008 9:44:21 PM , Rating: 2
Weird.. I have a Dell notebook with an 8400GS I bought last August but I haven't had any problems with it.


By GoodBytes on 8/3/2008 9:49:30 PM , Rating: 2
Probably the batch of bad GPU's are finished, and you got the good one.


RE: I think they've known this for a while
By jonmcc33 on 8/3/2008 10:05:02 PM , Rating: 2
My work has a ton of Dell Latitude D630 laptops all with nVIDIA Quadro NVS 135M's in them. Makes me worry since it is on Dell's list.


By Creig on 8/4/2008 9:04:55 AM , Rating: 2
Ugh. Our office just received eight D630's to replace our D610's. Looks like we would've been better off keeping the old machines.


By gerf on 9/13/2008 8:33:05 AM , Rating: 2
I guess I didn't elaborate. It was the screen. I just thought it was strange that they'd check the video card at all.


By feelingshorter on 8/3/2008 10:47:20 PM , Rating: 2
I have a HP 21** series and the screen blacked out. I called the tech support and they said that "its a common problem." It was a nvidia 6000 series GPU. The thing is that it just died right before the 1 year manufacture warranty ended. I wouldn't hesitate to buy HP brand again though. The way they handled the repair was fast and painless.


By GreenEnvt on 8/5/2008 8:54:09 AM , Rating: 2
Thankfully I've been lucky.
I have a Toshiba with a 7600 go, and it's 2 years old. I haven't had any video card problems (except when my wife uses it on the couch and her blanket blocks all the exhaust ports, doh!).


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