RTX 4090 Woes Get Worse: Native 16-Pin Reportedly Melts as Well (Updated)

12VHPWR Connector
12VHPWR Connector (Image credit: Ricky TO/Facebook)

Update 11/05/2022 9:30 am PT

Another GeForce RTX 4090 owner has fallen victim to the native 16-pin power connector meltdowns. But, according to Redditor (opens in new tab), he manipulated the cable carefully and didn't bend or twist it unnecessarily. Luckily, the user discovered the meltdown before it could do any damage to the power connector on his graphics card. His system consisted of MSI's GeForce RTX 4090 Gaming X Trio 24G graphics card and MPG A1000G power supply.

The 16-pin power adapter debacle has a dedicated mega thread on Reddit (opens in new tab). At the time of writing, the number of casualties has ascended to 19, where two cases involve the native 16-pin power connector.

Original Article

By now, you may have read many horror stories about Nvidia's 16-pin power adapter melting on the GeForce RTX 4090. However, the terror doesn't stop there. A GeForce RTX 4090 owner (via Reddit (opens in new tab)) has reported the first alleged case of a 12VHPWR power connector meltdown from a native ATX 3.0 power supply.

While a bit expensive, the GeForce RTX 4090 is one of the best graphics cards for gaming. It's a shame that the price tag may not be what's scaring off consumers but the fact that the included 16-pin power adapter is a potential fire hazard. There have been 18 "confirmed" cases on Reddit (opens in new tab) ranging from different graphics card vendors. Nvidia has promptly investigated the issue and instructed its partners to send melted GeForce RTX 4090 graphics cards back to the chipmaker's lab for analysis.

According to the Facebook post (opens in new tab), the owner used an MSI GeForce RTX 4090 Gaming X Trio 24G graphics card and MEG Ai1300P power supply. Having read about the frightening user feedback with the 16-pin power adapter, the user opted for an ATX 3.0 power supply with a native 12VHPWR power connector. Unfortunately, the photographs showed that the power connector had started to melt. A couple of the ports already looked disfigured. Although he didn't share any pictures of his system, the Facebook user claimed he didn't bend the cable excessively. MSI has reached out to him to replace the graphics card and power supply.

Nvidia hasn't shared the results of its investigation, suggesting that the company may still be exploring to find the root of the problem. Thus far, we've only seen the meltdowns with the 16-pin power adapter. However, this new user report does make us question whether the issue goes deeper than the design of Nvidia's 16-pin power adapter. Instead, the problem could lie with the 12VHPWR power connector, the quality of the components, the GeForce RTX 4090, or a combination of different factors. When the 12VHPWR power connector debuted on GeForce RTX 40-series graphics cards, there were concerns about the peril of pushing 600W through that small power connector. The GeForce RTX 4090 is a 450W graphics card, but when you start overclocking, running benchmarks, or torturing tests like FurMark, the power consumption will quickly go over the 500W to 550W mark easily.

Initially, the 16-pin power adapter was the scapegoat for the fiasco. It would appear that a third-party adapter or a direct connection to the power supply could mitigate the meltdown. Apparently, the solution may not be that easy after all. ATX 3.0 power supplies are scarce right now, which could explain why we haven't seen many reports of a native 12VHPWR power connector melting. Alternatively, it could be a fluke. Then again, that's what many thought when the first case of the 16-pin adapter power melted, and now we're up to 18 incidents.

GeForce RTX 4090 owners are probably in a tricky spot now, as neither the power adapter nor the power connector seems safe. So should we pull the plug and stick to integrated graphics while we wait for a solution? Or should we continue to play Russian roulette? Unfortunately, Nvidia has been silent since the start of the 16-pin power adapter meltdown disaster, which doesn't help either.

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.

  • helper800
    It was inevitable...
    Reply
  • peachpuff
    Nvidia should get into the home insurance business...
    Reply
  • TechieTwo
    The likely issue in this instance is electrical resistance caused by insufficient pin-to-socket contact surface area for the current being consumed.
    Reply
  • blacknemesist
    I'm starting to believe something here is fishy.
    Sure the adapter might be terrible but the board itself has a bad connector? That seems like too much of a mistake even for NVidia not to test their own boards.. but then again its NVidia so they might have just cut corners even further to capitalize on profits, it backfired massively if that's the case, imagine replacing each and every 4090 and the 4080 having the same issue if its on the board.
    I already have my 4090 coming at MSRP but I might just sell it and go for AMD if the benchmarks make it a GREAT value for 4k(Honestly though it because RT will tank them probably).
    Reply
  • eye4bear
    This sure brings up the question "who tested this thing and who signed off on it"? They both deserve a "let's shoot ourselves in the foot" marketing excellence award.
    Reply
  • -Fran-
    At this point, I think nVidia is getting closer and closer to a massive recall which will cost them millions. Even going back to the 8pins is going to cost them millions right now.

    I'm guessing nVidia is just hoping there is no "it lit up and burned my PC" reports, so they aren't forced to do so.

    Man... I also want to do so many hot takes, but they make themselves. Smokin' hot takes even!

    AMD could not have had better luck with their timing... Mostly luck, for sure, and a little bit of foresight.

    Regards.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    The connector size isn't a problem. Enforcing current balance between pins to prevent massive load imbalance if some pins make significantly worse contact than the others is. If you don't want to worry about current balance, then use something like an XT60 - still pretty small with only two pins and #10 wires for up to 55A if you don't mind the ~5W loss per wire.

    -Fran- said:
    I'm guessing nVidia is just hoping there is no "it lit up and burned my PC" reports, so they aren't forced to do so.
    As long as Nvidia's stuff meets the 94V-0 flammability spec, starting a fire should be practically impossible. The connectors may melt, smoulder and stink up the room but they won't catch fire.

    If Nvidia, AIBs, PCI-SIG, Intel (ATX 3.0) and PSU manufacturers cannot find the root cause of these melting connectors and issue definitive fixes for whatever issues are identified, then the HPWR standard will need to get scrapped altogether.
    Reply
  • bigdragon
    So how much longer until the class action lawsuits and recalls start? That's got to be coming up soon. Alternatively, we could see a driver or firmware update that reduces 4090 performance and power consumption. I doubt Nvidia will sit idly by as more connectors melt and more negative PR spreads.
    Reply
  • jasonf2
    InvalidError said:
    The connector size isn't a problem. Enforcing current balance between pins to prevent massive load imbalance if some pins make significantly worse contact than the others is. If you don't want to worry about current balance, then use something like an XT60 - still pretty small with only two pins and #10 wires for up to 55A if you don't mind the ~5W loss per wire.


    As long as Nvidia's stuff meets the 94V-0 flammability spec, starting a fire should be practically impossible. The connectors may melt, smoulder and stink up the room but they won't catch fire.

    If Nvidia, AIBs, PCI-SIG, Intel (ATX 3.0) and PSU manufacturers cannot find the root cause of these melting connectors and issue definitive fixes for whatever issues are identified, then the HPWR standard will need to get scrapped altogether.
    Agreed. For the standard to exist they are going to have to go to a per pin amperage watchdog and a bios error when the ceiling is hit. It won't fix it, but will keep it from melting. If not they will have to move over to a 2 conductor + ground setup with a big enough connector and conductor set to carry the full load. At what point in this whole mess are is extending the ATX spec with a 24vdc rail starting to make sense rather than trying to deal with 12vdc amperage? It doesn't sound like these cards are going to go down in load anytime soon.
    Reply
  • Nikuuuuu
    A GeForce RTX 4090 owner (via Reddit (opens in new tab)) has reported the first alleged case of a 12VHPWR power connector meltdown from a native ATX 3.0 power supply.

    Just to let you know, the user on the Reddit posts aren't the the ones with the connector issue. It was a repost of someone else who is having the issue on Facebook.
    Here is the proof along with the link of the original post.
    Reply