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Melting RTX 4090 cables could be much more common than previously reported

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A hot potato: GeForce RTX 4090 owners have frequently reported burned and melted power cable connectors for over a year. Nvidia acknowledged a few dozen cases worldwide, blamed the problem on user error, and addressed the issue by quietly updating the cables. However, a California repair shop disputes the company’s claims that it’s rare.

Computer repair shop Northridge Fix claims that far more GeForce RTX 4090 graphics cards suffer from melted power cables than Nvidia admits. Although the connectors in newer shipments appear to have solved the problem, the original cause is still hotly debated.

In a recent YouTube video (masthead), a Northridge Fix repairman claimed that the shop receives between 20 and 25 RTX 4090s with burned power cables per week, or around 100 per month. The video doesn’t mention how long the business has been fixing melted GPUs, but its numbers far exceed the 50 cases Nvidia admitted to a year ago.

Team Green blamed the problem on users improperly plugging the cables into the side of the graphics card. However, Northridge Fix also disputes that presumption due to the high number of occurrences. Other customers, including the plaintiff in last year’s class-action lawsuit against Nvidia, claimed to have correctly installed their power cables, suggesting a deeper flaw in 12VHPWR adapters.

The issue stems from the original adapters Nvidia shipped with the 4090 so users could install 8-pin cables from older ATX 2.0 power supply units into its 16-pin socket. In September 2022, PCI-SIG warned that the adapters could reach unsafe temperatures in specific situations, but Nvidia said it fixed the problem before the flagship GPU’s launch.

Customers haven’t reported problems since Nvidia updated its 12V-2×6 adapters in recent months. Third-party tests confirm that the new headers maintain relatively low temperatures even when improperly installed.

Those using the old cables should seriously consider installing the 4090 with an ATX 3.0 PSU, which natively supports 16-pin connectors without requiring the troublesome adapter and costs less than potentially replacing the GPU. At least one person reported a 16-pin cable that burned while plugged into an ATX 3.0 unit, but the occurrence appears far rarer than the melted 2.0 adapters.

Looking forward, Asus is testing a more permanent solution – GPUs that replace external cables with a PCIe x16 power connector on the motherboard. The cableless system supports at least 600W, and RTX 4070 GPUs employing it should appear by early 2024.

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