Nvidia's explanation for the the death of several GeForce GTX 590 graphics cards - that the users have been using unsafe, older drives and have been overvolting the boards - has come under fire following reports of stock cards failing.
At least one user has experienced the same failure mode as Swedish overclocking group Sweclockers did with their board: a flash of light, a puff of smoke, and a dead graphics card. Unlike Sweclockers, however, it has occurred with a card running at stock voltages.
Greg Brown has posted to the Overclockers.co.uk Forums complaining that his Zotac GeForce GTX 590 graphics card, purchased from online retailer Ebuyer on the day of release, has gone the way of the dodo - despite running the card at its default, manufacturer-recommended settings.
"While running [benchmarking suite] 3DMark11 an hour ago I noticed [the graphics card] got really quiet," Brown explained in his post. "I leapt for the PSU cable - but no. Crack! Poof! Stinking smoke!
"I really thought my whole system was gone, the flash was that bright. The GTX590 is toast: part of the PCB has melted around what looked like a small group of resistors in the lower middle of the card, which have blown, and there's a scorch mark on the other side of the card coming out from under the cooler shroud down to the PCIe fingers."
Brown's story will sound familiar to anyone who watched Sweclocker's video, which shows something remarkably similar happening to a card that was undergoing overclocking - but Brown claims to have been running the board at recommended settings in order to allow the GTX 590 to settle in after purchase.
Nvidia's original explanation for Sweclocker's video was a combination of pushing the card to a too-high core voltage, which put undue strain on the power supply hardware on the board, along with the use of an older driver version which didn't include rigorous enough protections against overheating caused by overvolting the card. This latest incident, however, indicates that the problems could be more fundamental.
The guys over at KitGuru claim that Nvidia's engineers have completed work on an updated BIOS which addresses the issue - indicating that it is a problem with the design of the dual-GPU GTX 590 boards, rather than a driver or user issue. We have asked Nvidia for comment, and are currently awaiting a response.
On the surface, it looks like Nvidia could have a major problem on its hands - and one which will make its battle against AMD's rival Radeon HD 6990 board, which so far has not been observed to fail, even more difficult.