The Amazon MMO New Worlds Beta Is Frying RTX 3090 GPUs

The beta for Amazon’s MMO, New World, dropped yesterday. It was quite popular, with reports of up to 187,000 simultaneous players at times. But if New Worlds was in the news for its popularity yesterday, it’s making waves today for an entirely different reason: It’s frying graphics cards.

Strange New World

It’s impossible to over-emphasize how odd this is. Back about 10 years ago, applications like Furmark were capable of damaging GPUs because they behaved more like thermal viruses than actual software. AMD and Nvidia both took steps to limit these kinds of workloads and built algorithms into their own drivers to detect them. Graphics cards also possess their own throttle limits and power regulation circuitry.

End users can hose an operating system installation by deleting the wrong files, but the only way to typically break a PC hardware component with software is to flash the UEFI/BIOS incorrectly. Even that’s a stretch, because we call UEFI/BIOS updates firmware, not software, and they come with extra risks.

There have been several tweets from EVGA users about RTX 3090’s dying after playing New World:

 

It is not clear if this issue is hitting any other company or graphics card, but there are multiple unhappy EVGA users reporting the problem in the company forums. EVGA is one company that acknowledged sending out some RTX 3090 GPUs with insufficient power circuitry last fall, but the company claimed these parts were only ever sent to reviewers and that none of them made it into retail.

It’s possible that’s true. This could be evidence of a different problem, unrelated to the initial issues. We don’t know yet if the issue is hitting cards from other companies. It’s been reported that the problem is the game’s menu screens, which run at uncapped frame rates, but most games — including games one runs with V-Sync disabled — don’t appear to hit frame rates that cause this kind of problem. Plenty of online games kick you back to the title screen if you spend too much time idle.

One could argue that New Worlds isn’t “killing” graphics cards so much as it’s demonstrating that some GPUs may not be adequately cooled, but that’s going to be cold comfort to anyone left trying to get a replacement GPU during a historic shortage. Hopefully, Amazon patches the game to remove this possibility and EVGA (as well as any other manufacturer) replaces cards as quickly as possible. Everyone who has purchased an RTX 3090 should still be covered under warranty, so that is not an issue.

A similar issue affected StarCraft 2 in the past, so this problem isn’t completely unknown. But it’s still an unusual problem, especially given that it seems to be hitting one GPU company.

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