Two weeks ago, we wrote a story about repeated reports of RTX 2080 Ti failures and how those failures were piling up and making waves on Reddit and Nvidia’s own forums. At the time, we told you that Nvidia’s official guidance was that there was no GPU problem. That guidance has changed, thanks to additional problem analysis. The company’s new information, however, is exceedingly brief.
“Test escape” is a term of art that refers to a problem that slipped through quality control testing and wasn’t caught until it wound up in the hands of the end-customer. This certainly does appear to be the case. While I haven’t been running news up the flagpole every single time an RTX 2080 Ti failed, I promised to keep an eye on the situation and have been doing so. Kyle @ HardOCP has also done some of this work — one of the two RTX 2080 Ti GPUs he purchased failed after just two hours last Friday. Other cards have literally burst into flames and there’s been speculation in the GeForce forums that the problem might lie with Micron’s GDDR6. Supposedly cards coming back from Nvidia have Samsung memory instead of Micron.
Given that at least one of the failed cards literally burst into flames, we recommend gamers who have purchased an RTX 2080 Ti keep a careful eye on their systems. The good news, if you want to call it that, is that this failure appears to happen relatively quickly. The fact that the failure popped up so soon after volume shipments began suggests this problem tends to rear its head in short order, and while that’s not the same as actually having peace of mind that you’ve purchased a well-manufactured product, hopefully, this is a case where affected GPUs can be swiftly replaced. There were initially reports that some people were on their second failed RTX 2080 Ti, but now that Nvidia has presumably identified the problem it can avoid that happening in the future as well. Because the RTX 2070, 2080, and 2080 Ti all use different physical chips, it’s also possible that the defect is related to the actual GPU.
The optics of shipping defective hardware immediately after you jacked up the price on your flagship GPU by $500 are not good, and gamers who promptly sold their old cards upon purchasing new ones may find themselves stuck on Intel integrated graphics while the replacement goes through, but Nvidia has pledged to make the situation right for affected customers. What Nvidia needs to do now, if at all possible, is release information that will help gamers identify if they have a defective GPU before it fails, in order to request replacements as quickly as possible and avoid potential system damage.
ExtremeTech does not recommend gamers purchase the RTX 2070, 2080, or 2080 Ti for reasons discussed in the review linked below.