Faulty 12V2x6 connector found with RTX 4080 Super card — it could be a one-off problem, but caution is advisable

Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 with 16-pin adapter.
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Just when you think the infamous 12VHPWR/12V2x6 connector couldn't have any more problems than it already does... it does. Igor's Lab reports that at least one 12V2x6 adapter he received with an RTX 4080 Super third-party card was unable to lock in place, which could lead to serious power delivery issues with their host graphics cards. Thankfully, the issue is specifically related to this particular adapter and not the connectors in general. However, it's a potentially serious problem for gamers and professionals who need to run the adapter due to compatibility restraints.

Igor's Lab determined the root cause of the issue, and says the PCI-SIG specifications for the 12V2x6 connector do not specify the exact dimensions of the connector itself, leaving cable manufacturers to do whatever they want. PCI-SIG specifies the header length, width, and height. Apparently, at least one manufacturer who builds Nvidia's 12V2x6 adapters messed up badly in the quality control department, potentially leading to some batches being defective — or at least, Igor received a defective adapter with one card.

Igor's Lab noticed a problem with this particular card during testing. The adapter came from an unnamed graphics card Igor's Lab was using for testing purposes — RTX 4080 Super AIB partner card of some kind. Igor's Lab noticed the adapter didn't "click" into the 16-pin socket, even when fully inserted. Igor then decided to dig into the issue to determine what was going on, checking a used 12V2x6 adapter from an RTX 4080 Founders Edition that was known to be working.

Igor tested both adapters by plugging them in multiple times into an MSI RTX 40 series graphics card. The older 12V2x6 connector worked flawlessly, creating a very audible click when inserted fully into the 16-pin port. However, the faulty 12V2x6 adapter did not create an audible click when fully inserted. Worse, Igor was able to pull the connector out relatively easily because the connector was unable to lock into place.

Igor was eventually able to get the adapter to click in, but only after 15 to 20 insertions with multiple RTX 40-series graphics cards. Upon further investigation, Igor discovered the faulty power adapter came with over-coated pins, causing the pins to jut out too much. A typical 16-pin reportedly comes with a layer of tin measuring 1.5 µm thick, on top of a layer of nickel that is around 2 µm thick. Those two layers overlap pure electrolytic copper inside. However, the nickel coating on the defective adapter was much larger than what it was supposed to be, preventing the connector from locking into place.

This is a serious problem that could end in catastrophe for some users if the problem goes unnoticed for a lengthy period. Thankfully the issue is very easy to detect. Any cable or adapter you plug into a 16-pin graphics card should end with an audible click, signifying that the connector has locked into place. If there is no audible click, there is a very good chance the connector is faulty and the adapter needs to be replaced.

It's unclear how widespread this problem might be. Igor received the faulty adapter with a review sample, which presumably means similar adapters may end up in other 4080 Super cards. It's a triple-pronged adapter (three 8-pin connectors to a single 16-pin connector), which means it's unlikely to come with lower tier RTX 40-series parts — the 4070 Ti Super for example comes with a two-pronged adapter. Regardless, if you happen to purchase a new RTX 40-series graphics card that includes any 16-pin adapter, it's important to ensure it fully 'clicks' into place.

Aaron Klotz
Freelance News Writer

Aaron Klotz is a freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US, covering news topics related to computer hardware such as CPUs, and graphics cards.

  • Amdlova
    That's a super problem lol
    Reply
  • bigdragon
    Spend $1,000+ on a GPU only to later find out they still didn't get a $2 power adapter right after more than a year of problems. Can I self-identify as a corporation? I'd also like to shirk all responsibilities without significant consequences!
    Reply
  • PEnns
    Quick, let's preemptively blame the users to be.
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    Interesting how they refused to call out the manufacturer that shipped a $1000+ GPU with a faulty adapter, smells of conflict of interest from sponsorship.
    Reply
  • ekio
    This plus is the lamest engineering fail ever.

    GPUs are huge and power demanding like never before, yet they made the tiniest ridiculously fragile connector.
    There was never any need for a tiny connector, discrete desktop GPUs didn't need that crap.
    What we need are super sturdy connector like a quadruple xt60.
    Reply
  • Kamen Rider Blade
    So, when is Version 3 of the spec coming?

    Especially given all the problems with:
    Version 1 = 12VHPWR
    Version 2 = 12V-2x6

    so far.
    Reply
  • Sleepy_Hollowed
    Kamen Rider Blade said:
    So, when is Version 3 of the spec coming?

    Especially given all the problems with:
    Version 1 = 12VHPWR
    Version 2 = 12V-2x6

    so far.
    At this point they should just go back to the old standard and add one more connector for power and divide the load between 3.
    Reply
  • Brubbler
    Nvidia/AIB simply clearing out known faulty stock, besides they'll just claim "user error" if your 1k+ card melts to shirk accountability (ad nauseam).
    A penny saved is a penny earned.
    Reply
  • AgentBirdnest
    It's supposed to click? :grimacing:
    I just got a 4070 Super with a 2x8-pin to 16-pin adapter. My first. It was hard to plug in to the card, but I thought I felt a soft-click. But when I booted up, there was no display. I investigated and found that the connector was not fully inserted. I'm not sure if I didn't push it in far enough, or if it wiggled out when adjusting cables.
    Try as I might, using as much force as I could, I couldn't get it to click the second time I inserted it. I thought to myself, "Oh yeah, when GN reported on these, I think they said there was 'not really' a click." Both ends of the connector were flush with eachother though, so I just let it be. Hadn't given it a second thought all week. *shrug*
    Reply
  • vanadiel007
    I am looking at my 7900XTX, with it's triple glorious power connectors. Good thing I have a glass side panel, for extra glorious viewing.
    Reply