Not satisfied with the temperatures of the memory on his GeForce RTX 3090 Founders Edition, a determined YouTuber (CryptoAtHome) replaced the factory thermal pads for aftermarket ones. The results are impressive as he managed to improve the temperatures by up to 25 degress Celsius — even while doing Ethereum mining.
Even though the GeForce RTX 3080 and GeForce RTX 3090 are two of the best graphics cards, their memory chips are notorious for running a bit hot if you stress the GPU long enough. Evidently, heat has been a problem from the beginning. An early investigation into the GeForce RTX 3080 already showed the memory hitting dangerous temperatures that surpassed 100C. In our own tests, the memory inside the GeForce RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 peaked at temperatures of 94 degrees Celsius and 104 degrees Celsius, respectively.
Micron rates its GDDR6X chips for operational temperatures up to 95C. Running the memory out of spec during prolonged durations is a recipe for disaster. Cryptocurrency mining takes an even bigger toll on the graphics card and was probably the primary motivation for the YouTuber to swap the thermal pads to improve its thermals.
Before surgery, the YouTuber's GeForce RTX 3090 Founders Edition was pushing a hash rate up to 82 MH/s mining Ethereum. The performance is a bit underwhelming since the GeForce RTX 3090 can easily reach 100 MH/s, and aftermarket models with better GDDR6X cooling can put hash rates up to 125 MH/s. Even though the YouTuber dropped the memory speed to 18Gbps and cranked the fan speed up to 88%, his GeForce RTX 3090 Founders Edition's memory was still hitting 110 degrees Celsius.
The YouTuber replaced the factory thermal pads with Thermalright's Odyssey Thermal Pad 85x45x1.5mm. Admittedly, the thermal pads aren't the best aftermarket offering that money can buy, as their thermal conductivity rating is only 12.8 W/mk. However, they appear to have done wonders for the memory chips inside the GeForce RTX 3090 Founders Edition.
After replacing the thermal pads, the YouTuber was able to restore the memory speed to 10,577 MHz (21.15 Gbps) and lowered the fan speed to 70% to pump out 100 MH/s. The graphics card's memory was dancing around the 84C–86C range during an entire day of cryptocurrency mining.
The Thermalright Odyssey Thermal Pad 85x45x1.5mm retails for $14.99 a piece on Amazon. Although the YouTuber bought four of them, he only needed three to completely substitute all the thermal pads on the GeForce RTX 3090 Founders Edition. It's a pretty good investment no matter which way you look at it. For $30, one could shave off as much as 25C off the memory's operating temperatures.
The memory's thermals shouldn't be as big of a concern if you're not into cryptocurrency mining. We can't generalize, but we expect the majority of custom GeForce RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 graphics cards on the market to come with better memory cooling solutions than Nvidia's wacky Founders Edition design. If you suspect that GeForce RTX 3080 or RTX 3090 is suffering from thermal throttling, the latest version of HWiNFO64 now shows the temperature for the GDDR6X memory chips.