MSI Vega 64 Overheating Fix

This applies to the MSI RX Vega 64 AIR Boost 8G OC Computer Graphics Cards, or at least my card.

TL;DR: Replace the thermal paste.

Symptoms
The symptoms were a hot idle temp at about 45C and at full load immediately jumping to 85C (the card’s max rating). During gameplay, the screen would go black and the fan would kick up to max RPM until I did a system reset. Under light load, undervolting, and reducing the clock speed would reduce the temp and prevent these crashes, but the card’s not supposed to need that god damn it.

Testing
How to see if it’s overheating that’s the issue
You always want to be doubly sure exactly what the problem is before you void your (useless) warranty and risk possibly bricking your card. First, check that you have installed and completely updated the following (assuming Windows), and then reset everything to default settings:

MSI Afterburner for the Hardware monitoring
Adrenalin 2019 Edition Graphics drivers
Furmark Stress Test (For watching your temps under load)
Use MSI Afterburner to monitor your GPU temp, leave your computer under idle, and it should sit around 25-32C (depending on how warm your room is).
Open a web browser and play a video, your temp should raise only slightly by a couple degrees. Any more than a 3-5C increase and you may have an issue.
Run the benchmark, it should take a more than 30 seconds for the GPU to heat near max. It should be a steady increase, not a “shoot” up, and the fan should maintain the ideal temp at around 75-80C unless you are overclocking.
If you had any sort of video corruption, or your display died and the fan speed went to maximum, you likely have a heat problem, and will either have to send in the card for service, or order some Arctic thermal paste and do it yourself, like a real man. (This will void your warranty.) Instructions below.

Repair
Read in the entirety before proceeding
Using a #0 Phillips, preferably one of the “rotating handle” types with a 3″ shank, remove the top black cover by unscrewing 6 lock-tite’d reduced flush head Phillips machine screws. These screws strip very easily, make sure to place a lot of force down on the screws. I didn’t put enough force on mine, and had to drill out the screw! The chassis is metal, you won’t bend it.
You may lift the part by the fan up first, then away. There is a lighting power connector that you should undo with some hemostats or heavy tweezers. It’ll rock out.
You want to get under the big shiny heatsink, that’s where the bazooka bubble gum is. Turn over the card, and place something under the heatsink to prevent the card from warping from the pressure you’re about to exert on it. I used a couple coasters. Remove the four screws that are on the “X” bracket. They stick out of the protective cover plate. This bracket is under quite the amount of spring tension, so when removing, do a little at a time, and work your way around until you remove all the screws. There are little springs that are attached to the screws, and I’m not sure if those come off, but I didn’t try. Ruining these screws will ruin your card, because it won’t give the needed pressure to properly thermally couple with the chipset.
The heatsink should come off pretty easy. Handle the heatsink with care, it uses evaporation cooling on the inside, and if you accidentally snip off the nub by the ports, you’re SOL. Turn it over and use 90% or better alcohol to clean off the insulation MSI placed on the die and heatsink. Use a microfiber or cotton cloth. Squirt as much heat lube as you want onto the chip, I use about a penny’s worth. Way too much, but it doesn’t hurt anything by being squished out everywhere like that.
Put the heatsink back into place, lining up the screw holes. Don’t let the heatsink come off again, otherwise it’ll mess up your nice paste job. Turn it over and place it on your object, and start replacing the “X” bracket by starting a couple threads and moving to the next screw in a circle, then tighten in a cross pattern. The springs on the arms attached to the screws must be completely compressed.
Plug in your MSI decal light from the lid (if you so desire, I think it’s gay) and slide back on your cover. Beware the light wiring harness will catch at the seam overlap. Reinstall your screws and you should be happier than a hamster.

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