Modder and YouTuber "VIK-on" completed his project on modifying a Palit RTX 3070 with 16GB of video memory, doubling the card's VRAM capacity from its original 8GB specification. In his video detailing the mod, VIK-on shows us the installation process of the memory modules, and his experiences using the card.
This isn't the first time this has happened. We've previously covered VIK-on's memory mod on an RTX 2070, where he upgrades that card from 8GB to 16GB of memory with some success. Things seem to have gone better with the 3070 this round.
VIK-on's work is no easy process, so don't expect to have a good experience duplicating his mod back at home with your own card. Especially if you lack the proper equipment.
VIK-on first takes the cooler off the RTX 3070, then applies a heat gun to the card's VRAM modules and starts increases the temperature to the point where he can pull the modules off the card with little to no resistance.
Next, VIK-on has to change what is known as "straps" on the PCB itself. Basically, these straps are little resistors (see resistor color codes) that need to be changed (re-soldered) depending on the memory module in use, whether that be an 8Gb or a 16Gb chip, or a memory chip from a specific memory maker, like Hynix, Samsung, or Micron.
Finally, he lubricates the PCB points where the VRAM will be installed, then installs the VRAM by heating up the modules when placed on the 3070's PCB.
Like with the RTX 2070 he modified, the 3070 POSTed just fine, and GPU-Z reveals that the full-fat 16GB of memory is indeed visible and usable to the card.
Driver Problems and a Workaround
Unfortunately, VIK-on ran into what seems to be a driver limitation with the RTX 3070, as the card was very unstable in any 3D application. However, he managed to fix the issue by going into EVGA's Precision X software and forcing the card to run at its normal frequencies and prevent it from underclocking and undervolting to save power.
Strangely enough, this fix completely resolved any crashing in 3D applications, and the card was fully operational.
Perhaps this bug is a countermeasure from Nvidia to prevent AIB partners from selling 16GB models, since that SKU technically isn't supposed to exist. More likely, the firmware and drivers simply aren't tuned to work properly with the different memory configuration. This proves the RTX 3070 core (GA104) can support a 16GB configuration, but this hardware hack isn't the same as official support from Nvidia.
Hints of a Future RTX 3070 Ti?
A 16GB RTX 3070 would be an interesting configuration to see out in the wild. We're already seeing AAA games at 4K resolutions reaching the 8GB frame buffer limit, particularly with Ray-Tracing enabled. The 16GB frame buffer could come in handy a few years down the road as games become more and more demanding.
But there's also the cost, especially during a time where we have a massive VRAM shortage. A 16GB model could be more expensive than it's worth for most consumers. Presumably, this is why Nvidia dunked the 16GB route and stuck with 8GB of VRAM for the RTX 3070. Rumors of a future 16GB RTX 3070 Ti persist, however, and such a card would make mods like this unnecessary.
For now, it's cool to see a fully functioning RTX 3070 with double the VRAM. Never underestimate the power of modders.