User claims RTX 4090 16-pin power connector melted on both GPU and PSU side, despite running at 75% power

Melted 16-pin power connector
Melted 16-pin power connector (Image credit: Quasar Zone)

At this point, 16-pin power connector meltdowns are like a nightmare we can't wake up from. Just when we thought things had settled down, an RTX 4090 owner on the Korean Quasar Zone forums shared the horrors of how the 16-pin power connector melted on one of the best graphics cards and the power supply — simultaneously.

Typically, you hear cases of the 16-pin power connector (12VHPWR) melting on either the graphics card side or the power supply side. But it's not every day you see meltdown occur on both ends, simultaneously. Although the Quasar Zone user didn't share the hardware models, the photographs showed an MSI GeForce RTX 4090 Suprim X 24G graphics card drawing power from an FSP Hydro power supply of an unknown capacity. What's shocking was that RTX 4090 apparently wasn't even running at full speed: the affected user reportedly limited the power limit to 75%.

The RTX 4090 is a powerful beast; however, not everyone uses their graphics card to its full extent. While some play with different power limits to maximize efficiency, others hobble the graphics card's performance with a stricter power limit to mitigate the risk of the 16-pin power connector melting. However, it isn't an infallible solution, as this latest case has demonstrated: the 16-pin power connectors can melt even if the RTX 4090 is only running at 75% of its power limit.

The RTX 4090 arrived on the retail market in October 2022, and it didn't take long before cases of 16-pin power connector meltdowns started to pile up around the world. There have been many theories as to why RTX 4090 owners were facing the issue — including the 16-pin power connector's design, the quality of the materials, the angle where the cable is bent, etc. While Nvidia promised to dig deeper into the problems, there hasn't been any closure on the meltdowns. Yes, PCI-SIG subsequently revised the power connector to improve its safety, and now we have the 12V-2x6 power connector, but many are still not convinced that such a slight revision can make a big difference.

The meltdowns weren't limited to the power cables/adapters included with the RTX 4090. They persisted with third-party adapters, too. Many were not sold on the included adapter and went out to purchase third-party adapters, which worked for a while. However, Cablemod, one of the more popular brands, had to recall its 16-pin power adapter portfolio due to fire hazards.

The whole 16-pin power connector meltdown is like a disaster waiting to happen. Two years later, we're still hearing stories about 16-pin power connector meltdowns. The number of cases has decreased since the initial spate of meltdowns, but we only know about those who come forward — some affected users may decided to find help elsewhere. Repair technician NorthridgeFix claims he fixes around 200 RTX 4090 graphics cards a month. So, yeah, 16-pin power connector meltdowns seem to be a gift that keeps giving.

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.