New Test Shows Loose RTX 4090 Power Connectors Cause Overheating and Melting

New Test Shows Loose RTX 4090 Power Connectors Cause Overheating and Melting

Enlarge / RTX 4090 from Nvidia.

Sam Mashkovech

A few weeks ago, some of the first users of Nvidia’s new flagship RTX 4090 GPU started reporting that the power connectors on the boards were overheat and melt their plastic casingsometimes causing damage to extremely fast and expensive GPUs.

For its part, Nvidia is still studying chess. “We continue to investigate the reports, but we don’t have any more details to share yet,” according to an Nvidia rep. talk to KitGuru earlier this week. But YouTubers from the Gamers Nexus Channel have been conduct their own extensive research, and in short, they believe that the problems are mainly caused by improperly installed power connectors. “Foreign object debris” inside the connector can also cause problems, but Gamers Nexus thinks this type of damage is much rarer.

The failure that Gamers Nexus was able to recreate in their labs involved connecting the 12VHPWR power connector to an RTX 4090 without fully inserting it, then bending the cable to one side, making the connection even worse. After only a few minutes of testing, the high resistance of the loose connection generated heat in excess of 250° Celsius, causing visible smoke and bubbles as the connector melted in its socket.

A photo from the Gamers Nexus test video.  A visibly loose connection combined with a cable bent at a severe angle caused temperatures to rise rapidly and ultimately smoke and melt.
Enlarge / A photo from the Gamers Nexus test video. A visibly loose connection combined with a cable bent at a severe angle caused temperatures to rise rapidly and ultimately smoke and melt.

Gamers Nexus describes the issue as “a combination of user error and design error.” That is, the cables are melt because they weren’t inserted all the way. But the lack of a tactile “click” or more robust retention mechanism makes this type of error more likely with the 12VHPWR connector than with older 6- and 8-pin PCIe power connectors. The size of the 4090 and 4080 cards also exacerbates the issues. Boards can be fitted even in relatively spacious ATX PC cases. You may have to bend the cable in some way to get your case to close, and this type of bending can cause a loose connection that contributed to overheating and melting. in the Gamers Nexus tests.

In particular, failures may affect any cable or adapter using the 12VHPWR connector – this goes for both types of adapters that Nvidia and its partners have used so far for 4090s, as well as “native” 12VHPWR cables that run directly off a power supply with no adapter between both. Earlier analysis suggested that adapters from a particular manufacturer might be more prone to failure than others, but Gamers Nexus didn’t find that to make a difference. This also means, presumably, that the 12VHPWR adapters that ship with RTX 4080 cards could also have the same issues.

For now, the best thing you can do is make sure your power connector is securely in place. If so, you should be able to pull it quite firmly without actually pulling it out (we were able to test it first-hand). You should also be careful to avoid any kind of sharp bending of the power cable in any direction. We’ll be keeping an eye out for an official statement from Nvidia, to see if it has any further recommendations or plans for any type of recall or replacement of the affected cards.

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