Right-Angle 16-pin Connector May Save A Lot of RTX 4090 GPUs (Updated)

16-pin Adapter
16-pin Adapter (Image credit: Seasonic/Bilibili)

Seasonic (opens in new tab) (via HXL (opens in new tab)) has teased a sample of the brand's upcoming 90-degree 16-pin power connector for Nvidia's GeForce RTX 40-series graphics cards. The design will potentially mitigate the meltdown issues with standard 16-pin power adapters on the GeForce RTX 4090.

So far, there have been three user reports (now apparently four) of the 16-pin power adapters melting. Admittedly, it's a small number compared to the number of GeForce RTX 4090 graphics cards Nvidia has sold, but there still may be affected users out there that haven't come forward. However, it's a severe problem since the issue can potentially be a fire hazard, so Nvidia has wasted no time investigating the situation.

Due to the thickness of the GeForce RTX 4090, consumers are likely having problems installing the flagship Ada Lovelace graphics cards inside cases that don't have the luxury of space. It's not unreasonable to think that some users may have to bend the cable for the 16-power adapter more than they should to close the case's side panel.

Like any power cable, bending the 16-pin adapter's cable immoderately, whether vertically or horizontally, can cause the terminal to come loose and mess up the integrity of the mating. As a result, the load becomes unbalanced over the remaining terminals, which increases the risk of overheating and melting the connector. Cablemod, a popular custom cable vendor, recommends at least 35mm of space from the 16-pin power connector before bending the cable. However, we've seen user feedback that the problem persists even at longer distances, for example, 40mm.

Seasonic isn't the only one with a workaround. Cablemod has announced the brand's custom right-angle 16-pin power adapter, which uses a multiple PCB design and promises zero bending. While the adapter sells on October 31, the pricing is unknown. Seasonic's 90-degree connector doesn't look as pretty as Cablemod's adapter, but it should work similarly. Unfortunately, we can't see the other end of the cable, so we're unsure if Seasonic's product is an adapter or a special cable designed to connect directly to the brand's power supplies. The connector from the photograph is a sample, and Seasonic didn't reveal the launch date or pricing.

While right-angle adapters can reduce cable bending, owners aren't out of the danger zone yet. Remember that the 12VHPWR power connector has a service life of 30 connection cycles. PCI-SIG detected the same mating issues around 40 cycles.

Up to now, we've only seen complaints from consumers using the bundle 4x8-pin to 1x16-pin power adapter. ATX 3.0 power supply owners seem unaffected. These power supplies already come with the 12VHPWR connector, so adapters aren't needed. On the flip side, there aren't many ATX 3.0 units on the market, and they are expensive.

It's curious that the potential problems with the power adapter apparently never showed up in Nvidia's testing. We've checked the GeForce RTX 4090's documentation and online user manuals, and there are no instructions or guidelines on manipulating the 16-pin power connector or its cable. Did Nvidia honestly not know about the issue? If so, it may want to rethink its procedures.

The chipmaker does warn against using third-party adapters, such as the Cablemod and the upcoming Seasonic one, which will void your warranty — though note that all the cases of melted connectors so far have been with the official Nvidia adapter. Can someone build a better right-angle connector than Nvidia's official adapter? Almost certainly, and it will still technically void your warranty.

Updated 10/26/2022 9:00 pm PT: Added the relevant information about the usage of third-party adapters from Nvidia documentation included with the GeForce RTX 4090 Founders Edition.

"Use only the included PCIe Gen 5 compliant power connector adapter for your GeForce RTX 40-series Founders Edition graphics card. Use of non-compliant or third-party power connector adapters may cause technical issues, and may void your manufacturer warranty."

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Zhiye Liu
RAM Reviewer and News Editor

Zhiye Liu is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Although he loves everything that’s hardware, he has a soft spot for CPUs, GPUs, and RAM.

  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    It's also not inconceivable that even just running the adapter cable in typical cable management situations will bend it in the first 1-1.5 inches because nVidia didn't feel the need to secure the cables even though it's running a lot of power through small gauge wires.
    Reply
  • setx
    However, the chipmaker does warn against using third-party adapters, such as the Cablemod and the upcoming Seasonic one, which will void your warranty.
    And how you concluded that using Seasonic's cable voids the warranty? It's cable from the PSU to GPU made by the manufacturer of the PSU!
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    setx said:
    And how you concluded that using Seasonic's cable voids the warranty? It's cable from the PSU to GPU made by the manufacturer of the PSU!
    We can't tell from the picture. If it's just an adapter, it potentially could. If it's a full length cable that connects to a Seasonic PSU on the other end, then no, it wouldn't. Either way, it shouldn't matter, the adapter should fix the existing issue and not suffer from it itself.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    It's also not inconceivable that even just running the adapter cable in typical cable management situations will bend it in the first 1-1.5 inches because nVidia didn't feel the need to secure the cables even though it's running a lot of power through small gauge wires.
    You could cast the first 2" away from the plug in rock-hard epoxy inside a steel reinforcement box and still have problems with copper getting ripped out of the crimps from hard bends after the rigid "strain relief" because only the insulating jacket is constrained. Conductors inside the jacket are still able to move and the extra tension on outer conductors which have to stretch more to make their longer path will still get all the way back to the pins. Using thicker gauge wires won't solve that and HPWR is already calling for #16 which can already handle twice as much current as what HPWR requires.

    No cable and connector spec supports having the heck bent out of it for cable management purposes. If you need a sharp or otherwise out-of-spec bend, use an appropriate angled plug or adapter.
    Reply
  • PlaneInTheSky
    ...instead of PSU makers making more redneck cable designs...because cables keep catching fire...

    We should be telling these hardware companies that consumer PC using as much power as a microwave oven, is completely unacceptable.

    Electricity is not getting any cheaper here and last I checked reducing CO2 was kind of a big deal for the planet...

    Those ARM-based PC using a fraction of the power x86 does are looking better and better every day.
    Reply
  • samopa
    "It's weird that the problem with the power adapter never showed up in Nvidia's testing. We've checked the GeForce RTX 4090's documentation and online user manuals, and there are no instructions or guidelines on manipulating the 16-pin power connector or its cable. So Nvidia honestly didn't know about the issue. "

    They're testing it in open case so the cable never bend, and didn't cause any problem in their system ;)
    Reply
  • daworstplaya
    setx said:
    And how you concluded that using Seasonic's cable voids the warranty? It's cable from the PSU to GPU made by the manufacturer of the PSU!

    ^This! I'm curious too. Why would using any other manufacturer's adapter void the warranty?
    Reply
  • Nikolay Mihaylov
    daworstplaya said:
    ^This! I'm curious too. Why would using any other manufacturer's adapter void the warranty?

    Because it benefits Nvidia?
    Reply
  • hotaru251
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    because nVidia didn't feel the need to secure the cables
    honestly....they should of "welded" or crimped it to secure it.

    cheap fix & no issue of contact being changed.
    Reply
  • ezst036
    Just wait until the Geforce 5090 comes to market, we'll need an ATX 24 pin connector for those cards power demands!

    Reply