Burning Question: Are All Nvidia G84 and G86 Parts Bad?


When it rains, it pours, and Nvidia could use a good downpour to put out the flames. Perhaps literally. Just last week Dave Murphy reported Nvidia was setting aside $150 to $200 million to cover warranty and repair costs associated with an "abnormal failure rate" in its mobile graphics cards, news of which sent Nvidia stock spiraling downward. Now there's speculation that the failures might not be limited to just a specific batch of notebook GPUs.

Rumor, news, and review site The Inquirer is saying that "all the G84 and G86 parts are bad. Period. No exceptions." That includes both mobile and desktop parts. According to The Inq , both use the same application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC), and both ASICs are plagued by a heat related problem originating from an un-named substrate or bumping material. Because of this, The Inq surmises more failures are imminent. But are they?

He (Nvidia) Said

Nvidia maintains that the failures remain limited to a batch of previous generation GPU and MCP products using a different die/packaging material, and that "all newly manufactured products and all products currently shipping in volume have a different and more robust material set." And if you already own a G84 or G86 product, OEMs are offering BIOS updates and new drivers designed to contain potential thermal issues.

She ( The Inquirer ) Said

According to The Inq , Nvidia's official stance doesn't fall in line with what's really going on. Donning a detective cap, the online news outlet claims to have talked to several analysts and engineers. The former are supposedly saying they were told the failures only affect a specific batch of parts HP got, and not any other OEMs. But the engineers all say there's no way Nvidia would change the assembly processor or material set for a specific batch or an end-of-life part, so if one batch is bad, then they're all bad.

Making Sense of it All

Innocent until proven guilty would apply in this case. Conspiracy theories rarely pan out, and a cover-up of this magnitude would be extremely difficult to pull off. To surmise that all G84 and G86 parts are bad means taking to heart several un-named sources and putting together pieces of a puzzle that don't appear to fit. No matter what analysts might be claiming behind closed doors, Nvidia's official stance doesn't peg the problem squarely on a specific batch of HP notebooks. So even if a group of anonymous engineers are correct in thinking Nvidia wouldn't switch substrates for a specific batch, it wouldn't matter because Nvidia has not denied the problem affects more than just HP.

Should I Be Worried?

First and foremost, don't panic. An "abnormal failure rate" isn't an automatic death knell, and unless you're seeing unusually high temperatures, you likely have nothing to worry about. If you own a mobile or desktop part sporting G84 or G86 silicon, check your vendor's website for any BIOS updates, new drivers, or recall notices.

What do you think - is this much ado about nothing, or does Nvidia have something to hide?

Image Credit: Nvidia

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