Heat gun GPU reflow fixes laptop

Solder connections on processors seem to be a very common failure point in modern electronics. Consider the Red Ring of Death (RRoD) on Xbox 360 or the Yellow Light of Death (YLoD) on PlayStation 3. This time around the problem is a malfunctioning Nvidia GPU on an HP Pavilion TX2000 laptop. The video is sometimes a jumbled mess and other times there’s no video at all. If the hardware is older, and the alternative to fixing it is to throw it away, you should try to reflow the solder connections on the chip.

This method uses a heat gun, which we’ve seen repair PCBs in the past. The goal here is to be much less destructive and that’s why the first step is to test out how well your heat gun will melt the solder. Place a chunk of solder on a penny, hold the heat gun one inch above it and record how long it takes the solder to flow. Once you have the timing right, mask off the motherboard (already removed from the case) so that just the chip in question is accessible. Reflow with the same spacing and timing as you did during the penny test. Hopefully once things cool down you’ll have a working laptop or gaming console again.

88 thoughts on “Heat gun GPU reflow fixes laptop

  1. @space & @fuggy
    I see.. I have actually got a really small oven which should be suited for this project.

    Regarding the youtube clips, you are absolutely right.. I really hope noone actually tried that fix! :D.. Its just like the towel trick..

    I know its a risk, and it might not work after all but these motherboards are useless anyways and i am NOT paying 100$+ to get a professional reflow

    Great to hear you have had luck fixing these xboxes! Did you use the heat gun for this or did you use the oven every time?

    What method would you prefer? Oven or heatgun?

  2. Wow! Thanks a lot for that tip. I just fixed my fathers Powerbook G4 15″, whose ATI chip had the same soldering issue, so the screen has been black for several months!

    We disassembled the logic board and baked it in the oven at 110 °C to minimize thermal stress. That penny trick was very useful to estimate the baking duration! I cut out a chip-sized piece from aluminium foil to keep all other parts away from the air flow and turned the heat gun (2000 W, Top Craft GT-HAG-01 from Aldi) on at its lowest setting (should be 1000 watts) in a distance of about 15 cm above the chip for 2.5 minutes, for the same time at 6 cm, and to let it cool down slowly, again for some time in a distance of 15 cm and further. Finally, the board was in the oven for some time at below 50 degrees.

    It’s been our first try, but now it works like a charm! This method might be dangerous, but what had we to lose? Professional reballing would cost a lot more, and for an old laptop like this (> 5 years) it is at least worth a try before throwing it into the trash. I’m curious how long this repair will last.

  3. I fixed asus m51s with nvidia 9500 chip.I used IRODA FLAMELESS HEAT GUN for this,and works perfect.I think much of this problems are caused by bad heatsink paste.And of course dust in the cooler system.Laptop computers should always be used on a flat surface.

  4. Hi again,i have fixed 2 laptops and one xbox360 with IRODA FLAMELESS HEAT GUN and they all last for few weeks.Now i have started all over again,but this time i used a copper coin for shim between gpu and heatsink with artic silver paste.And i updated the bios on Asus m51sn.I think the bios update was very important because it feels like the fan is doing a better job now.I hope this will be a success.The copper coin was sanded smooth on both sides.

  5. Has any one used a reflow to fix this wierd fault on an Hp DV6152 (AMD CPU) – at first it appears to be the usual classic Nvidia GPU symptoms, i.e all light come on, fan spins up, if a disk is in the dvd drive it will spin up etc etc but nothing on screen – and the machine restarts after about 30 seconds, however if I power off as in I hold down the power button (you need to hear the hard drive clunk for this to work when you do this), wait about 2 seconds – then hold the esc key then press the power button ( the blue LEd on the left side of the machine goes off after about 3 second if it has worked – it will start up – and it will read the dvd drive – it will start a windows install disk, format the drive but fails when it needs to restart, I am able to run knoppix live cd, but the wifi adapter isnt working, everything else is fine connects to the net sound works, runs without a glitch, steps taken so far. I have stripped the machine down, replaced the themal “pillow” (fitted a copper shim in its place), removed the silver foil on the other nvidia chipset, replaced the compound on the CPU stripped and cleaned all the filth from the fan. Thermal past arctic silver, has the highest Wm2/h I could find. Any thoughts ideas, conformation this is still the GPU issue – as the wifi isnt working, appreciated.

    1. Yes. One of the first few symptoms of the failing GPU/NorthBridge on those HP Pavilions is the loss of the wireless adapter, because it’s part of the PCI-E bus. Next is usually memory errors, and then finally the full video/boot failure.

      (At least in my experience, and in what I’ve read online in the past.)

  6. Is it only AMD cpu laptops that have this problem with GPU overheat? Because all laptop i have tryed to fix have AMD cpu.I think maybe that the overheat problem damage the cpu also?,because when i put in a new AMD cpu after i heated the gpu the laptop fan is running much better i think.If anyone else have this experience,i would like to hear about it.

  7. Just wanted to add a success story: GeForce 8800 GTX fixed using aluminum foil as a heat shield. There’s a big chip near the DVI outs, so I figured I better reflow that one as well. Nearly freaked out after reflowing, thinking I had blown a bunch of the 0402 SMD caps off the top of the output chip. Looked at my “before” pics, and it turns out they were not there to begin with. *whew* Anyway, the card was black-screen before the fix and works fine after the fix!

  8. I’ve been heating up the NVidia Video Chip on my Dell m1530 for the past 3 years. I probably do this once every 4 months. I don’t even take the motherboard out of the case any longer. I just flip the laptop, expose the Nvidia chip, heat that sucker up for about 15-20 seconds per side then wait for 15 minutes for it to cool down. I’m sure the “professional” way is recommended but why spend the money for the same results. I’ve been looking for a replacement laptop but this reflow solution has extended the life of my laptop for about 2 years. Here is the heat gun I use for my laptop.


  9. I’ve got a Dell Vostro 1400 with Nvidia. Up until about last year at this time, I had my fingers crossed, hearing about the crap Nvidia chips. Then about this past Feb, I turned the laptop on, and voila! goofy video. I got in on the bitter end of the Nvidia class-action suit, and Dell replaced the motherboard. Now, about a month ago, all the sudden, turned the system on, blank screen. Its pretty obvious its the same problem as before, but I’m not gonna get another replacement board out of Nvidia/Dell again. I’d been pricing replacement boards, and the lowest price I can find is about $150. Guess I’ll give this a try.. The board is toast, so what do I have to lose…

  10. i actually did this to a dell xps m1730 laptop, well it was the 8700m vid card from nvidia. i had to take the whole thing apart. cleaned the gpus, heated, new paste, back together again and running great. i found out that the laptop had the old bios on it causing the video card(s) to overheat due to fan on sequence. anyways, i updated the bios and it runs perfect!!! so if anyone gets a blank screen on their m1730 here lies ur problem!!!

  11. Interesting to see the oven reflow mentioned as a better alternative… This seems to be the case EVERYWHERE!!! Looks like I am going to have to find a way to use a sall oven…

  12. I recently did this to my tx2500. Unfortunately didn’t work, I guess the heat was too low. Since I also did the penny fix, now I can’t turn it on by heating it up with a fan, because the arctic silver 5 and the copper penny prevent the heat building up on igp :D Dammit. Have to take it apart one more time… Some parts are really fragile, like the unfortunate mic connection.

  13. My girlfriend’s Sony Vaio VGN-FE21M developed exactly this fault in the past week – green pixelated stripes followed by a crash about 20 seconds into booting up, just as it was about to use the main graphics card, then round and round again in the same loop. It has a NVidia 7600 GoForce GPU. I looked it up on the Internet and saw the known fault but the Sony site would only do free repairs for certain machines within a 4 year warranty period. Her laptop was nearly 6 years old. Sony didn’t want to admit liability and their out of warranty support would only do a whole new motherboard at £4-500.

    Faced with binning it or trying what was suggested on this site I decided to give it a go. I had never done anything like this before so expected the worst. I bought a Bosch heat gun from B&Q for £27 which had 3 settings and used the 400° one. I heated the chip twice. First time for about 50 seconds starting slowly from about 30cm over my tinfoiled opening, gradually coming to about 15cm. Waited 20 mins, repeated the above but went for about 60 seconds and to within about 5 to 10 cm for about 20 seconds of that.

    I couldn’t see any visible signs of change on the chip but switched the laptop back on and it was like new again.

    Top tips are to record all your steps in order and package and label where the screws come from. Take pictures too along the way. It’s invaluable when putting everything back together. I also got thermal grease from Maplin for £3 to ensure the heat sincs were fine again in future.

    Thanks to everyone who contributed. I’d have never dared do it without such good information.

  14. Love the penny trick need to do my Toshiba X205 gaming laptop before a LAN party this weekend so will try it. Especially as I just accidently overcooked a Samsung R70 last week, ooops!!
    Another useful thing to do is to use a nvidia driver hack that allows you to change the clock on your GPU these are mostly used to crank it up but if you use it to drop the clock and shader rates down by 10-15% it greatly increases the time between reflows with only slight performance loss.

  15. This week I had to go through this process to fix my HP dv9736 for the 3rd time! It should be good for another 2 years or so if I don’t make a habit of cleaning fans out before this happens… I’m definitely going to try under-clocking it as phataardvark suggested though.

    Great suggestion timing how long solder takes to melt on the penny! I think I was heating the GPU much longer than I needed to during previous fixes.

  16. USB cooling pad seemed to help keep one of my HP laptops cooler. The first time I used it without the cooling pad….fried. I am going to try this technique. Can’t decide whether to go heat gun or oven. I did successfully reflow a PS3 with the heat gun once.

  17. Why is it everyone talks about ‘get a good heat gun’ but no one mentions brand or model? :( Can someone please recommend a brand & model of a specific heat gun out there? a tried & tested reliable one & mid price range. Thanks

  18. My way:
    1. Cover other parts with aluminium foil
    2. Put in oven and heat up to 100 C for 15 mins
    3. Increase to 150 C for 30 mins
    4. Set the oven to 250 C wait until the heating indicator light off then turn off the oven
    5. Dont open the door of the oven, just leave it cool down in the oven slowly
    6. Take it out at lease after 1 hour (best to wait it until room temperature)


  19. After I heated it with the gun,i packed it back up but it shows a problem when turning it on.It stays on for only 2-3 second then it goes off again.All the lights at the bar turn on and the sounds of the processor start but it wont stay longer than 3 seconds on.Whats the problem?

  20. I just did this on a sony Vaio PCG-61611L with an AMD chip.
    I used a dual 630/1000 degree F heatgun, on the 630 setting.
    I held the heat gun ~3 inches above the chip, moving in a circular direction, and did so for 60 seconds.
    This was enough to fix this laptop.

    Thanks, Mike Szczys, et al

  21. Hi i think the gpu overheat problem in most case is broken heatsink i try now to fix aspire 7720g.I just hold the heatsink under cold Running water and there was no cooling on the copper sqare,but on the CPU heatsink there was.Do anyone here have any thaughs about this?

  22. If you want be serious about it, go full Macgyver on it. Get one of those bathroom infrared heaters as preheat/underheater, and one of those 30USD 800W ceramic topheater blocks on ebay or the most powerful projector/photo halogen you get your hands on – 600W 78mm R7s with standard outdoor halogen lamp is reccomended.

    Then you get some triacs, MOC3021s, any opamp (be it LM358 or fancy rail to rail), K-type ultracheap bead thermocouples, some resistors, arduino mini, hole-grid board, iron transformer (important, you get zero cross from secondary), display, and switches.

    Start measure temp accurately with those thermocouples and opamps (or if you prefer fancy expensive temp compensated chip…) timer based phase control for top halogen heater, then get a PID for it, then ON/OFF regulator for underheat, PID that too, make some display code, so you can see set and actual temp under and over, and then it’s all about fun with thermocouple placement, temp adjust, finding good paste, lamp placement etc…

    I repaired 6 GPUs with this thing (and counting) in few months, killled like 10 before finding good setup and due to bugs (sudden full power, because i rolled over zero cross to another amplitude…). GTX260, 9800GT, some AMD things (5xxx 4xxx), and passive/jammed-little-fan cooked over GPUs. If it has artefact, it can be ressurected.

    Get TM202C, they are cheap and they are accurate. Right temps are up for you to find, somewhere between paste bubbling and chip puking solder and carrier cracking and bulging ;-)

  23. to my amazement, this worked perfectly. the laptop is back from the dead! it’s a Compaq CQ61

    I covered the GPU in foil like the picture at the top, set the heat gun to 500 degrees, blew on the top for about 30 seconds (from about 2″ away, moving in a circular motion), let it cool for 20 minutes, blew on the bottom for about 20 seconds, let cool for 20 minutes…

    put it all back together (don’t forget thermal paste!)… and we’re in business. i’m just hoping it lasts more than a week.
    this my be my favorite electronics fix of all time =]

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