The 16-pin (12VHPWR) power connector is just that gift that keeps on... melting. The controversial power connector has already caused many meltdowns since the launch of the GeForce RTX 4090, one of the best graphics cards on the market. Even third-party adapters can't save it, as Cablemod has officially issued a recall on the company's popular 12VHPWR angled adapters.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission entry, Cablemod has sold around 25,300 units of the brand's 12VHPWR angled adapters, in various models and forms, and the recall includes all of them. Note, though, that recall is just for the adapters, as Cablemod claims its angled cables are still fine. The recall applies to purchases from February 2023 through December 2023, whether directly through Cablemod or another retailer.
The reason for Cablemod's recall is that the adapters, not unlike the 12VHPWR cable itself, can come loose and cause overheating or melting of the 16-pin connector on the graphics card. Cablemod has received 272 user reports about the issue and at least $74,500 in property damage claims, which we assume are damaged graphics cards. Luckily, there haven't been any reported injuries.
272 cases out of 25,300 represent just a 1% error rate, which may not sound significant. However when dealing with high wattages and temperatures, it only takes one misfortune for things to go very bad. With the potential of a fire hazard, Cablemod ultimately decided to go with a voluntary recall, which is the right thing to do.
You should stop immediately if you're using one of the brand's 12VHPWR angled adapters. Cablemod has provided extended instructions on safely removing the adapter and a video on disabling it properly at its recall minisite. You must provide a receipt or invoice of your purchase and photographs of the disabled adapter. Cablemod doesn't want the disabled adapter back, but does recommend you dispose of it responsibly.
Cablemod is offering its customers a full refund or $60/60€ in store credit for any non-customized products that the company sells, with free standard shipping. If you have multiple adapters, you'll get a refund for every one of them. Participants of Cablemod's Early Adopter Program are also eligible for a refund. You will need a PayPal account to receive a refund, though.
Processing could take six to eight weeks for Cablemod customers and maybe longer if you purchased your adapter through an external authorized online retailer. So it looks like GeForce RTX 40-series graphics card owners are back to using the included 16-pin power adapter. And maybe that's for the best, especially if you have one of the 16-pin power connectors that's been revised to enhance safety and ensure a better installation. We haven't seen any reports of the new 12V-2x6 connector melting, so the revision seems to be working as intended.
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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.
As someone who has some familiarity with electrical codes, it is astonishing to me that they couldnt sort out the potential issues with these cables during engineering.Reply
Here is my repost from a similar story from June 15, 2023:Reply
"As power systems designer, it would cause me great concern to see the number of failures that are happening if this were my design. The typical warranty calls for most products will reflect a small number of actual field failures, as there are probably very many more and people are not reporting them. I have seen this many times over my career.
I took a look at the Molex Mini-Fit connectors that are similar to the actual one being used and found the spec for the 12 pin part. For 600W on a 12VDC system, you will need 8.33A per pin - if they all share perfectly. They won't, and a good designer plans for some redundancy to account for that. For instance, even in the NEC electrical code, they derate wires if operated in parallel. Connectors are done the same way, but with even more derating needed.
Connector vendors also play spec games and will list the maximum current per pin for a single or minimum pin housing for good marketing exposure. If you plan to use more than that 1 or 2 pins for high current, you should always derate depending upon the vendor recommendations - check the specs. This is nearly universal on power connectors and where many design engineers get into trouble when using power connectors.
In the spec chart on the Molex part, they recommend derating to 5.5A per pin with the 12 pin configuration. The derating has many factors including contact pin resistance spread (how well they will share), as well as the thermal profile of the connector housing. The pins toward the center of the housing get the most thermal stress since they get heat from both sides.
There are many design factors external to the connector that effect the reliability. One is the PCB design: did they put agressive thermal reliefs into the copper artwork? This can generate added local heating (just like using too small of a wire into a connector). Thermal reliefs are used to help with soldering and usually look like a wheel spoke pattern. Another factor is the typical humidity in the operating environment, which effects the speed of metal oxidation for the contact metals. If the connector environment also has high vibration, then the contacts can undergo fretting failure from the contacts rubbing which slowly eats the outer plating and exposes the metal underneath (usually copper). Depending upon the contact and housing designs, this might not need much vibration to dramatically accelerate this. Think about cooling fans, water pumps, and other rotating devices in a computer case.
On my past designs, I have performed thermal tests on critical power connectors like this to check the inside pins are not getting uncomfortably hot. Before the crimped pin is inserted into the housing, I would attach a thermocouple as close as I could to the contact area on the crimp pin. And choose a contact that is by the center of the connector. Bake the system until it reaches thermal steady state. The connector housing should not be anywhere close to the maximum rated temperature.
The 8.33A rating per pin needed in this application needs some inspection. And I don't believe blaming the user is a reasonable action. People are not responsible and criticized for the plug on their hairdryer for instance. It is expected to work, and safely."
When will have recall from nvidia ? Every company who adventures on that connection have some trouble...Reply
Will stay longer with my old connector.
I swear I heard about this a month or two ago.Reply
What is ignored completely is the lack of coordination of the motherboard manufacturers and Nvidia with the introduction of power hungry boards like the 4090 ones and the new and untested 16-pin connector.Reply
One should not need to buy a new computer to use a new graphics card but that is what is expected. It used to be that if the PSU provided enough Watts for the board then all was OK. This is not the situation with the Nvidia graphics cards with their new 16-pin connector. Truly sloppy engineering on the part of the product management at Nvidia which is the source of the problem and not third party efforts to provide a fix.
I bought a new RTX 4090 and the adapter cable provided with it from Nvidia would not connect to the 1000W PSU in my 2020 HP Z4 tower computer. I would expect this nonsense if it was 1985 but in 2023 it is ludicrous and unforgivable.
Zhiye, has there been any reports of this happening with a 4080 ? I have a MSI factory liquid cooled 4080, that I am using an adapter (fully seated) with, due to case space issues... NOT a Cablemod brand.. Any feedback would be appreciated!!Reply
Can you provide the molex part number for the connector you were looking at?chaz_music said:I took a look at the Molex Mini-Fit connectors that are similar to the actual one being used and found the spec for the 12 pin part.
The CEM 5.1/12V-2x6 revision did not specify any changes to the cable plug connector, only to the board header. Maybe some manufacturers did a connector redesign at the same time the revision rolled out, but in general there is no reason to think that newer cables/cable adapters are any different than older ones.Admin said:And maybe that's for the best, especially if you have one of the 16-pin power connectors that's been revised to enhance safety and ensure a better installation. We haven't seen any reports of the new 12V-2x6 connector melting, so the revision seems to be working as intended.
I like Cablemod. They make very nice cables. I bought a bunch of adapters and cables for the 16 pin connectors on my 4090 and my 4080s. They were recalled, Cablemod gave me coupons for each item. I used them to buy the newer modified version and some custom cables.Reply
For this recall they are offering store credit or cash. I will just do the store credit. They tried to make a safe adapter for this very poorly designed cable connector and failed. They have been straight with me and I don't want to "kick them while they're down".
Their cables are very nice. Give them a try!
Given that the recall is only the adapters and not the cables leads me to believe that it's a part problem as opposed to anything with the connector itself. Mostly this whole thing seems like an issue where the retention aspect of the connector is the problem and that's what the revision targeted.TJ Hooker said:The CEM 5.1/12V-2x6 revision did not specify any changes to the cable plug connector, only to the board header. Maybe some manufacturers did a connector redesign at the same time the revision rolled out, but in general there is no reason to think that newer cables/cable adapters are any different than older ones.