Nvidia has released a firmware update tool for its new GeForce RTX 4090 and 4080 GPUs to fix a bug that could interrupt display output, causing the GPU to show a blank screen when used without drivers installed. The issue only affects “certain motherboards,” and Nvidia says it “should only be applied when encountering blank screens at boot.” (We installed it on an RTX 4080 Founders Edition in an Asus motherboard, which worked normally and didn’t notice any adverse effects.)
Obviously you don’t buy a GPU to use without drivers installed. But when adjusting BIOS settings, performing a fresh Windows installation, or booting up for the first time after installing a new GPU, your GPU needs to be able to draw a base image without drivers being loaded. The issue doesn’t affect everyone, but if you notice a blank screen the first time you boot your computer after installing an RTX 4090 or 4080, this firmware update may fix your problem.
If the error is preventing you from installing the firmware update in the first place, Nvidia recommends connecting “through an alternate graphics source” such as an integrated GPU or a secondary GPU, or letting your system sit with a blank screen until it installs a driver can install by itself; Windows Update can usually pull itself a working driver for most GPUs, although you’ll want to download and install the latest version to take advantage of new fixes and optimizations. The update can be applied to Nvidia’s Founders Edition cards or any RTX 4090 or 4080 from Nvidia’s partners.
Nvidia continues to investigate a separate issue related to the power connector on the new GPUs, which can overheat and cause damage if not properly connected.