Nvidia’s issue with melting 16-pin GPU power connectors continues to rumble on. As the first-party information vacuum continues, we are still open to reasonable theories about the melting issues Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 graphics cards are having with their power connectors. Corsair’s esteemed PSU expert, JonnyGuru, has now shared his views and theories about connector gate.
The PSU expert’s plausible explanation is also pretty simple: GPU installers aren’t fully inserting their connectors he concludes – in problematic installations there remains a gap between the insert and the socket. This is something we discussed a couple of weeks ago as a possibility, though it's only one of several.
In the wake of our coverage of connector-gate theories from Igor’s Lab, Gamers Nexus, and input from CableMod, Hardware Luxxe, and Tom’s Hardware’s own GPU editor, it's hard to come to any solid conclusion. Let's take a closer look at JonnyGuru’s method and theory.
JonnyGuru connected a Corsair HX1500i with three PCIe cables going into the Nvidia adapter. He also added a thermistor to the setup for monitoring and worked with cable ties to inflict unwise degrees of bend to the cabling. Like others before him, JonnyGuru decided to try and inflict problematic damage on the connectors, particularly the integrity of the soldered joints. However, all of this was to no avail, with connector temperatures under sustained heavy loads never rising beyond 53C (degrees Celsius).
Above: gallery showing good and bad connections
Following the slightly fruitless testing session, JonnyGuru cast his attention wider and pondered over online photos of setups that had melted cables, and others that were problem free. This led the PSU expert to come to the following conclusion: “ANY 12VHPWR connector can potentially burn up because ANY of them can be hard to insert.” This theory was supported by a number of connector mating images where the connector isn’t quite fully inserted. Moreover, he reasoned that the 16-pin connector is “VERY DIFFICULT to insert completely,” which jives with our own experience. The caps-lock in both previous quotes has been left intact for emphasis.
If PC DIYers and enthusiasts are hoping for a little advice, as Nvidia and AIBs remain unnervingly quiet, JonnyGuru suggests the application of a little dielectric grease from Amazon to the power connector. This $4 investment is worth it for assured fitting of a $1500 GPU, commented the Corsair PSU expert.
What's more, any users with a failed 16-pin connector aren't likely to publicly declare, "Yeah, I just checked and I failed to insert the adapter all the way. It's my own damn fault" — not when potential warranty coverage is at stake. But the fact is we simply don't know for certain what has caused the failures to this date, including failed direct to PSU 16-pin connectors.
Nvidia Remains Quiet
It has been more than two weeks since the the first 16-pin 12VHPWR melting adapter problem reared its smoldering head. While various third parties and tech experts have come forth with reasonable theories about the underlying issue(s), Nvidia and its partners have been conspicuously quiet.
The last we heard was that Team Green was still carefully examining melted samples in their labs. Given we expect to see continued use of the 16-pin adapter on Nvidia's upcoming RTX 4080 as well as the future RTX 4070 Ti, it would be great to get some official news about these issues from Nvidia and its board partners. If or when that happens, we'll be sure to share any provided information.