Actually if you're building a 4:3 frankNpad then you have no choice but using a pre-08/08 nvidia board, there were non made in august 2008. Many of us have used them and we are aware of the risk, but if you want powerful graphics, you just have to accept the risk and pay the piper if you do have a failure. The actual failure rate of these chips is very low, but it's compounded by the same failed chips being recycled back into the used computer and/or parts market. This is often done by several different methods and some due to incompetence, others by sheer greed. Some boards and systems traded online have been reflowed using a heatgun. They will often work for hours, days,6 weeks, maybe even months... but usually just long enough to scam someone. Other methods include baking the board in an over, wrapping it in blankets and forcing an overheat condition, or in some cases the board is actually reflowed by an infrared reballing machine, sometimes by a technician that just doesn't understand the nature of the defect and (falsely) believes it's the solder connections that failed, when it's actually internal chip damage.
Next up in the problematic boards are the 3rd party refurb boards. Since nVidia only makes these chips when required to do so by oem contracts, 3rd party refurbishers cannot buy them through proper channels, so they end up getting fake chips. These are used chips that are pulled from old boards and have had the numbers polished off and new numbers etched onto the die. This has been a common practice in china for years, and when reliable chips are used, it isn't a major problem, but in this case it's caused the markets to be flooded with these fake chips so none can be trusted. If you do a google search on "fake chips" and "china", you'll see that the U.S. military was scammed into buying thousands of these, and they were purchased from legitimate channels, but it seems that in each case someone along the line found a cheaper source and just assumed they were genuine and wanted to save some money, and it ended up costing the tax payers in the end.
When I source an nVidia board for a frankNpad project I start with a complete corporate laptop that has never failed and I run them 24/7 for a min of 7 days while temps are monitored, and this includes at least four hours of GPU stress test. Usually a reflowed or baked board won't last more then 15mins of this, but a good strong gpu won't flinch and will run a steady temp throughout the test while keeping the fan on high speed in manual mode. If the board passes all the tests then I consider it a suitable board to use. Overall the failure rate of these nVidia chips are very low, far less then 1%, but with many millions of them made, even 0.01% failure adds up to thousands of dead chips and angry users. Over in the Lenovo forums you can see there have been a few hundred members reporting failures, and I'm sure there are many failures not reported, and many that are reported are what I refer to as "2nd generation" failures, such as buying a cheap ebay system that dies in two months... that isn't nVidia's fault, it's the fault of whoever baked, heatgunned, or reflowed the board, but the point is if there were over 1% failure we'd probably see thousands of reports, not hundreds. One popular way to avoid this is to use a board with Intel graphics. These boards rarely have native penryn support, but are very reliable, however if I was going to invest the time and money to build an "ultimate frankNpad", I'd want to have some powerful graphics behind it, even if it did mean I may need to replace the board someday. It boils down to a matter of personal choice, and to anyone building one of these it's not going to be an earth shattering tragedy if they have to replace a board, it's just something you need to accept if you want the best.
There are genuine Lenovo refurb boards that you can buy, they cost close to $700 and not all of them get new GPU chips, so it would be cheaper to get two good well tested boards and tuck one away for emergencies if needed, but you can sometimes find these boards, I have two of these frankNpads in my collection, one has a board with a genuine new chip, but the board alone cost me more then many pay for an entire laptop, so that route isn't for everyone.
Another route you can take is to get an 08/08 board from a 14" widescreen and transplant the GPU onto the 4:3 board. This too won't be cheap, but I do have one of these boards that failed from a non-gpu problem and if I'm unable to repair the board, then I may have the chip transplanted, or may be willing to sell it.
There are many options available, some better then others, but there is no perfect solution, only choices that vary in cost and reliability.
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