How long do video cards last under load?

Smartazz

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Dec 29, 2005
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I currently have an 8800GTS folding that I've owned for almost 5 1/2 years. At this point, if it dies I don't really care as I never expected it to be around for over 5 years. It's spent most of its life under load, so I'm surprised it's not dead. How long would you expect it to keep lasting? Temperatures are between 75C-80C.
 

thilanliyan

Lifer
Jun 21, 2005
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I suspect the GPUs themselves will last, but components on the boards like VRMs and capacitors might fail. I have 2 6950s that have been running constant load for a couple of months now. Temps in the 55-65C range.
 

Ben90

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Jun 14, 2009
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Interestingly enough, the most common point of failure of those 8800 cards was the solder used in some part of the GPU. During multiple cold/hot/cold transitions such as turning your computer on/off every day, it would eventually crack and mess up the card.

That is why so many people try to bake those cards. By getting the solder up to 150*C, it would become soft again and reconnect temporarily.

By leaving the card hot, you put the least amount of stress on the solder so it is no longer the weakest link.
 

KompuKare

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Jul 28, 2009
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Interestingly enough, the most common point of failure of those 8800 cards was the solder used in some part of the GPU. During multiple cold/hot/cold transitions such as turning your computer on/off every day, it would eventually crack and mess up the card.

That is why so many people try to bake those cards. By getting the solder up to 150*C, it would become soft again and reconnect temporarily.

By leaving the card hot, you put the least amount of stress on the solder so it is no longer the weakest link.

Nvidia never acknowledged exactly which parts were affected with their poor choice of lead-free solder. It was certainly more than just mobile G86s. I've personally seen G86, nForce 7150, and my personal G92. Haven't heard about G80s (8800 GTS) though. Baking didn't work for any of the above though although my 8800 GT did last a few months after the first bake. Will never buy Nvidia again (but then say one should never say never...)
 

Ferzerp

Diamond Member
Oct 12, 1999
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Apart from poor solder (if you have the initial lead free blends), what's probably going to die first is the fan. Solid state components typically last a very long time if run within spec. They're either working parts that usually far past what most of us use them for, or they're flawed, and fail reasonably quickly.
 

BrightCandle

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Mar 15, 2007
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I had a 460 survive for many many years. The fan failed part way through its life but I kept it running only at idle for main years afterwards. In theory they can last decades but in practice most components become obsolete before we get good failure data.
 

Smartazz

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Dec 29, 2005
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Apart from poor solder (if you have the initial lead free blends), what's probably going to die first is the fan. Solid state components typically last a very long time if run within spec. They're either working parts that usually far past what most of us use them for, or they're flawed, and fail reasonably quickly.

Is there a way to tell if my card has a lead free solder?
 

Ferzerp

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Oct 12, 1999
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You have an 8800, so you do have inferior (compared to earlier) solder I think. The question is do you have solder that's so inferior that too many heating/cooling cycles will cause it to fail.

Honestly, if you truly are keeping it under load 24x7, you're going to be less at risk because you'll have fewer cycles.
 

SergeC

Senior member
May 7, 2005
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Frankly, the on/off cycle is much more stressful on electronics than leaving it on 24/7. Might last a while yet.
 

skipsneeky2

Diamond Member
May 21, 2011
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Frankly, the on/off cycle is much more stressful on electronics than leaving it on 24/7. Might last a while yet.

Yup,i believe this is true as well,its why my pc is on sometimes a week at a time,unless i got out of town for a few days,then the pc goes off.
 

Fallengod

Diamond Member
Jul 2, 2001
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I think that is true for all components though. Mobo, video card, cpu, memory, power supply, the most stress comes from initial bootup.
 

Ferzerp

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Oct 12, 1999
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On the mechanical parts fans, HDs, etc yes, but on the solid state parts, it really shouldn't matter that much unless your PSU is sending dirty power during power up.
 

KompuKare

Golden Member
Jul 28, 2009
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On the mechanical parts fans, HDs, etc yes, but on the solid state parts, it really shouldn't matter that much unless your PSU is sending dirty power during power up.

In theory yes, but with the Nvidia bumpgate they used the wrong underfill (not quite the solder) and the thermal stress eventually broken them. Thermal cycles are more extreme in laptops (and poorly ventilated ones even more so, hence all those failed HP DV6000s), but eventually desktop parts suffer too.

And capacitors are solid state parts but capacitor plague ruined tons of mobos etc. because of hydrogen build-up in a poorly chosen electrolyte (the most expensive bit of industrial espionage gone wrong ever). Heat was a factor there too.
 

Vesku

Diamond Member
Aug 25, 2005
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Well built video cards should survive 3+ years of constant use. Although any that use sleeve fans may need new fans in year 2. There are many external factors that can alter lifespan but it's no coincidence that many companies will give 2-3 years warranty.

The main card factor for failure will be the power components slowly dropping out of spec due to age.
 

Qbah

Diamond Member
Oct 18, 2005
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I had a 460 survive for many many years. The fan failed part way through its life but I kept it running only at idle for main years afterwards. In theory they can last decades but in practice most components become obsolete before we get good failure data.

You mean less than two? And fan died after less than a year? GTX460 was released in July 2010 :p

OP, as others stated, as long as you run your card within spec, you're good to go for many years. I wouldn't be surprised if the card lasted another 5. Just clean the dust once in a while and have a well ventilated case.

However it lasting this long shows what a great release the 8-series was. Still going strong for some people!
 

Smartazz

Diamond Member
Dec 29, 2005
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You mean less than two? And fan died after less than a year? GTX460 was released in July 2010 :p

OP, as others stated, as long as you run your card within spec, you're good to go for many years. I wouldn't be surprised if the card lasted another 5. Just clean the dust once in a while and have a well ventilated case.

However it lasting this long shows what a great release the 8-series was. Still going strong for some people!

The 8800s were absolutely amazing when they came out and mine still serves a purpose. What exactly is within spec though? It's holding a steady 80C. I'm wondering if the fan needs to be replaced as it is near 90% fan speed.
 

utahraptor

Golden Member
Apr 26, 2004
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Well think about all the people using bargain basement components to run 3 or 4 video cards 24 / 7 for mining in rooms that get very warm. I don't see them complaining of their cards failing prematurely.
 

bononos

Diamond Member
Aug 21, 2011
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The 8800s were absolutely amazing when they came out and mine still serves a purpose. What exactly is within spec though? It's holding a steady 80C. I'm wondering if the fan needs to be replaced as it is near 90% fan speed.

The 8800s were quite problematic, lots of failures but you could be one of the lucky ones. I thought it was the gpus giving out in failed cards but I was told that comparing gpu/cpu temps would be like comparing apples to oranges since gpus could take it to the 100sC and be within spec - although in practice it will be lower since manufacturers would want something cooler next to other components.

If your fan is still working ok w/o funny noises why bother?
 
Dec 30, 2004
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thermal cycling is actually quite damaging. Having it running full tilt non stop is probably the best thing that's happened to it. Better not stop. IDC had a B2?3? stepping of q6600 under phase change cooling running 4ghz for a couple years that was fine until he decided to shut it down and do something with it? Paraphrasing, and probably completely messing up the story, but the moral is, if it isn't broke....

This probably varies greatly between GPU manufacturers, and models. You could have just as easily gotten a GPU that didn't work for 2 years under load. IMO.
 

Ben90

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Jun 14, 2009
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Condensation is not a problem if you keep your vaporphase running 24x7, the condensation ices up and becomes nonconductive. So your cpu block and mobo will get a big old blob of ice built up on it but it is harmless...until you turn off your vaporphase unit.

Then the ice melts and everything is wet. That is not good if you have your PSU still plugged into the wall (turned off is not good enough). I shorted out a graphics card, and zapped my mobo real good on at least 3 occasions where I was there to listen to the pops and snaps firsthand to realize it was happening.

Still though, despite my shortcomings and mistakes the rig survived this haphazzard arrangement for well over 2 yrs, almost 3.

So...it is spendy, setup cost and TCO as well as the early obsolescence of your gear. But it is fun, no question.

I built a server a few years ago named aquaman submerged in mineral oil. Since it was mostly for experimentation and not extreme cooling, the oil was not actively cooled. The whole ecosystem got incredibly hot to the touch, and the old Thunderbird just kept on chugging. Every few months I would find a reason to restart for whatever reason, and every time it would be incredibly hard to turn back on. Once on however, it would happily compute along until I turned it off again.

Eventually it got so hard to restart, I wrote the whole project off as a loss. RIP Aquaman.