Thursday, June 9, 2011

How to fix laptop motherboard with failed NVIDIA graphics chip

In this post I explain how you can fix a laptop motherboard with failed NVIDIA graphics chip. This repair might apply to some HP/Compaq laptops and probably some other laptop brands. If this repair works for your laptop, please mention the brand and model number in comments after the post. This will help other readers with similar laptops.
This method should work for the following models: HP Pavilion dv2000, Pavilion dv6000, Pavilion dv9000, Compaq Presario v3000, Presario v6000, HP Pavilion tx1000, Pavilion tx2000.
By the way, I just fixed my son’s Xbox 360 with red ring of death (error 74) using exactly same technique.
1. Laptop turns on with garbled video on the internal laptop screen and external monitor.
2. Laptop turns on as normal but there is no video on the internal laptop screen or external monitor.
The NVIDIA graphics chip soldered to the motherboard. When the laptop gets very hot, the NVIDIA chip separates from the motherboard and laptop video fails.
I have previous posts explaining how I fixed same problem by baking the motherboard in an oven or bubble-wrapping the laptop. But today I’m going to fix the motherboard using a heat gun. Basically, I’m going to heat up the NVIDIA chip with a heat gun to solder it back to the motherboard (reflow). I think this method is more reliable and the repair should last for a while.

There is no guaranty this method works all the time. While doing this repair you may damage the motherboard and make it unrepairable. Also, you may damage the laptop while taking it apart.
Proceed at your own risk and don’t blame me if you turned your laptop into a very expensive door stop. :)
If you don’t feel comfortable doing this repair, take your laptop to the repair shop.
First of all, you’ll have to disassemble the laptop and remove the motherboard. You can find laptop disassembly procedure in the service manual. If you having trouble finding the manual, leave a comment and maybe I can point you to the right direction.
In my example I’m using a motherboard removed from HP Pavilion tx2000 laptop.
In most laptops the graphics chip located under the CPU heatsink (and it has NVIDIA logo on it), so there shouldn’t be a problem locating the chip. The chip has a glossy top surface.

For this repair I’m going to use an Ecoheat heat gun EC-100.

In order to figure out how to position the heat gun and for how long, I tested it on a penny with a small piece of solder on the top.
The Ecoheat heat gun has a switch on the handle. There are two positions for the switch. Position 1 – slow. Position 2 – fast.
I used position 1 – slow.
I positioned the heat gun about 1 inch away from the penny and turned it on.

After about 40-45 second the solder started melting. After 50 seconds the solder melted completely.

To protect the motherboard from the heat I used a regular cooking aluminum foil. I cut off a piece of aluminum foil and folded it a few times to make my protection shield thicker. After that I cut off a square opening right in the middle, same size as the NVIDIA chip.
After I removed the heat sink, I had some old thermal grease stuck on the NVIDIA graphics chip. You can remove old thermal grease using alcohol swabs. It’s not necessary to make it perfectly clean. Just make sure there are no large chunks of thermal grease on the chip.

UPDATE: Some people mentioned that I should have applied some liquid flux underneath the NVIDIA chip for better results. I didn’t do it this time. I’ll definitely do it next time if the motherboard fails again. I found this video explaining how to apply liquid flux under the GPU chip. This video was made for Xbox 360 motherboard but should apply to any laptop motherboard too.
Liquid flux for GPU reflow available on eBay.
Finally, I positioned the heat gun above the NVIDIA chip about 1 inch away and turned the heat gun into the position 1.

After 50 seconds I turned it off and let the motherboard cool down for about 20 minutes.
Don’t forget to apply new thermal grease on the NVIDIA chip when you install the heat sink.
Some laptops use thermal pads instead of grease. If that’s the case with your laptop, make sure the thermal pad positioned correctly.
After I assembled the laptop back together, the video started properly!
The NVIDIA graphics chip problem fixed!
Will it last for a long time? I don’t know. Still testing.

Make sure to visit The NVIDIA GPU Litigation site.
It’s possible that your HP/Compaq laptop qualifies for a free replacement. Here’s a quoted from the site:
If you have an HP or Compaq notebook computer, you may be eligible to receive a replacement computer. A repair remedy is not available for HP/Compaq computers because replacement parts are not available. Replacement computers will be shipped 6 to 8 weeks after a claim is approved.

View original article here

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