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MSI Stealthily Revamps GeForce RTX 3080 Design Amid Stability Concerns (Updated)

MSI GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio (Image credit: MSI)

Update 9/29/2020, 7:30am PT: MSI sent over images and a statement disputing any claims that it has changed the design on its 30-series GPUs. Included are four images of the backs of the cards, showing the capacitor configuration. The MSI RTX 3090 Gaming Trio and MSI RTX 3090 Ventus 3X have a layout with 4x SP-Caps and 2x MLCC clusters, while the MSI RTX 3080 Gaming Trio and MSI RTX 3080 Ventus 3X have a layout with 5x SP-Caps and 1x MLCC cluster. These are the cards that actually shipped to consumers and reviewers; earlier variants may have existed but apparently did not ship to anyone outside of MSI. This includes the 6x SP-Cap card, images of which were posted on MSI's site at one point but have since been removed.

Original Article:

The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 just can't seem to catch a break. The Ampere-powered offering is one of the best graphics cards on the market despite its limited availability, but some custom models are suffering from stability issues.

Reports of custom GeForce RTX 3080 crashing started piling up last week. EVGA has acknowledged that the root of the crashes is likely due to the design and choice of capacitors. Some vendors have openly responded to the issue, while others kept their silence. 

In a nutshell, there are two types of capacitors that filter voltage. POSCAPS (Conductive Polymer Tantalum Solid Capacitors) are bigger and have a higher temperature tolerance, meaning they're more expensive but don't excel at high frequencies. MLCC (Multilayer Ceramic Chip Capacitors), on the other hand, are smaller, cheaper and adept for higher frequencies in comparison to POSCAPS. However, they have a lower temperature tolerance, so they crack more frequently. So far, user reports show that the custom GeForce RTX 3080 models that leverage a complete POSCAPS design are more susceptible to instability and crashes.

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MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio

Current MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio (Image credit: MSI)
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MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio

Current MSI GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio (Mistakenly identified as 3080 originally) (Image credit: MSI)
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MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Ventus 3X

Early MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Ventus 3X photo (Image credit: MSI)
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MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Ventus 3X

Shipping MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Ventus 3X (Image credit: MSI)

MSI, as reported by VideoCardz, has started silently revising the design on the its GeForce RTX 3080 models. As a matter of fact, MSI has removed the renders of the backplate from the product pages, although some regional product pages are already showing the new design.

The original capacitor layout on the GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio employed five POSCAPS in conjunction with one array of MLCC. The new design consists of four POSCAPS and two arrays of MLCC.

On the GeForce RTX 3080 Ventus 3X, MSI had originally utilized a design six POSCAPS, which has been substituted with a new layout that includes five POSCAPS and two arrays of MLCC.

It's unknown if any of the old designs from MSI or other vendors actually made it into the wild. 

  • saunupe1911
    Sounds like it's a blessing that these aren't readily available. I sticking with EVGA FTW or Hybrid, MSI Gaming Trio, or Asus Strix. Those are the only brands and lineups that I will even attempt to purchase
    Reply
  • logainofhades
    MSI not being open and honest? Color me shocked. /sarcasm.
    Reply
  • torbjorn.lindgren
    It's known that there is Zotac cards with 6xSP-CAP's in customers hands - not POSCAP's, cue AHOC rant about people getting this wrong, since he's very knowledgeable in this area and was showing the manufacturer's datasheets in the stream I'm going to assume he's right and the press is wrong on that.

    EVGA's press release claims that they discovered the issue during testing in time to make sure no retail cards used 6 large caps, but that a few review samples did use this configuration and that they're working on getting those replaced. I'm fine with review samples having issues...

    There's been rumors about a few other manufacturers but I'm not going to name any since I'm not sure on any of them.

    And no, the MLC configuration definitely isn't cheaper. Yes, one MLC capacitors is likely cheaper than one large capacitor but the correct comparison is 10 MLC capacitors vs 1 larger capacitor and 10 MLC capacitors definitely cost more. The MLC configuration also takes slightly longer to make because there's more components for the picket machines to place - this is very small though because there's so many other components that even 54 extra doesn't add much percentage-wise.

    When it comes to performance using 10 MLC instead of 1 large capacitor results in better performance in every way, so the reason for not use all MLC comes down to either cost or wanting to differentiate the more expensive cards - the improved filtering by the MLC array can lead to very slightly better overclocking capabilities (or possibly when it tries to boost very high in this case).

    Note that as cards goes up the "stack" at one manufacturer they tend to get more MLCs and less of the large capacitors in the GPU back cavity which should show that using MLCs is the more expensive (and better) option.

    The exception to all this appears to be ASUS - they appear to have gone with all-MLC on all of their 3080/3090 cards! Nice.
    Reply
  • thepersonwithaface45
    torbjorn.lindgren said:
    The exception to all this appears to be ASUS - they appear to have gone with all-MLC on all of their 3080/3090 cards! Nice.
    ASUS FTW! October 25 can't come soon enough.
    Though, really hope retailers have sorted out these bot issues by then >:(
    Reply
  • helper800
    torbjorn.lindgren said:
    When it comes to performance using 10 MLC instead of 1 large capacitor results in better performance in every way,
    There is one thing that the SP-Caps do better than MLC capacitors and that is in total capacitance and in heat tolerance. MLC capacitors tend to break down over time much quicker than SP-Caps because of the latter.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    torbjorn.lindgren said:
    And no, the MLC configuration definitely isn't cheaper. Yes, one MLC capacitors is likely cheaper than one large capacitor but the correct comparison is 10 MLC capacitors vs 1 larger capacitor and 10 MLC capacitors definitely cost more.
    The cost of MLCCs varies a lot depending on capacitance and voltage rating. A 1k reel of 10uF in 0805 packaging costs around $25, which is ~$0.25 for 10 of 'em vs ~$0.60 for a 330uF polymer cap. If they are using 47uF caps, then those do get somewhat pricey at ~$90 per 1k reel.

    As far as bypassing a high speed ASICs is concerned and provided that bulk capacitance across the board is sufficient to keep the power and ground plane voltage even, the cheaper 10uF caps may actually be better than 47uF ones since they will hit their SRF one octave later.
    Reply
  • JarredWaltonGPU
    InvalidError said:
    The cost of MLCCs varies a lot depending on capacitance and voltage rating. A 1k reel of 10uF in 0805 packaging costs around $25, which is ~$0.25 for 10 of 'em vs ~$0.60 for a 330uF polymer cap. If they are using 47uF caps, then those do get somewhat pricey at ~$90 per 1k reel.

    As far as bypassing a high speed ASICs is concerned and provided that bulk capacitance across the board is sufficient to keep the power and ground plane voltage even, the cheaper 10uF caps may actually be better than 47uF ones since they will hit their SRF one octave later.
    Seems like the 'good' configurations use either 10x 47uF MLCC, or 1x 470uF SP-Cap. I suspect the cost of the latter is pretty close the former, but then board layout probably requires more time and complexity so the single SP-Cap ends up cheaper. But for a $700 -- and especially $1500 -- card, it's a drop in the bucket.
    Reply
  • HorseTempura
    I was one of the lucky/unlucky people to legit purchase a MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio cards from Newegg... If MSI is doing a redesign with two arrays of MLCC instead of one, do you think they will exchange/fix it under the RMA? The crashes have stopped for me after changing the Core Clock to -100MHz and installing the NVIDIA Studio Drivers. Card is still a beast even if it isnt reaching its full potential..
    Reply
  • vinay2070
    HorseTempura said:
    I was one of the lucky/unlucky people to legit purchase a MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio cards from Newegg... If MSI is doing a redesign with two arrays of MLCC instead of one, do you think they will exchange/fix it under the RMA? The crashes have stopped for me after changing the Core Clock to -100MHz and installing the NVIDIA Studio Drivers. Card is still a beast even if it isnt reaching its full potential..
    Did you manually OC the card and then reduce the 100, or reduce the 100 from the stock?
    Reply
  • HorseTempura
    vinay2070 said:
    Did you manually OC the card and then reduce the 100, or reduce the 100 from the stock?

    It was a stock install, the only tweaking I did was to manually underclock the card -100 MHz to prevent the crashing once it began. I hear its different for everyone, I have read that people can underclock the card -50MHz and be able to have stability that was not the case for me.
    After my tweak I have played several hour game sessions over the weekend of Warzone and Dead By Daylight and haven't had any issues.
    Reply