GeForce RTX 4090: Nvidia examines smoldering power connections

The new 12VHPWR power connector for graphics cards is off to a bad start. AMD takes the opportunity for marketing: The RX 7000 GPUs do not use the connector.

Nvidia and its partner manufacturers use the new 12VHPWR power connector for the GeForce RTX 4090 for an electrical power consumption of 450 to 600 watts. It is precisely this connection that is currently causing frustration because so far there have been three known cases in which the 12VHPWR connector on the graphics card itself or the connected cable became too hot and then started to stew.

Manufacturers, various users, websites, and YouTube channels are currently dealing with the possible causes. Nvidia confirmed to The Verge that it is investigating the cases and is contacting those affected.

The known cases are manufacturer cards for the GeForce RTX 4090 from Asus and Gigabyte. Nvidia’s power adapters were used here, which split the 16-pin 12VHPWR connector into either three or four 8-pin connectors in order to be able to operate the graphics cards on previous power supplies. Only a few ATX 3.0-compatible models have the new 16-pin connector.

On the Chinese Bilibili platform, the power supply manufacturer Seasonic shared slides from the PCI-SIG group of companies, which is responsible for the PCI Express specification. The PCI-SIG warns against bending radii that are too tight for cable strands with the 12VHPWR connector and too frequent plugging cycles (from about 40 times unplugging and plugging in again).

Accordingly, both can lead to poor contact between the power connector on the graphics card and the connected connector. If the cores are not properly seated, the load will be unevenly distributed and, as a result, unforeseen heat will develop. Normally, however, a current of up to 8.3 amperes per 12-volt wire should not pose a problem.

The accessory manufacturer Cablemod is currently actively involved in the discussion and agrees with the information. Accordingly, the power cable should not be bent horizontally or vertically for at least 3.5 cm behind the plug. However, due to the sheer size of all RTX 4090 graphics cards, this is easier said than done – most midi tower cases are simply too narrow to meet the recommendation. Cablemod and Seasonic soon want to sell 90-degree adapters that save a good inch of space. Cablemod also offers a 180-degree adapter that leads the power cable directly over the graphics card.

90-degree adapters could fix, or at least mitigate, the issues with the RTX 4090 graphics cards. (Picture: Cablemod )

The website Hardwareluxx meanwhile refers to three members of its own forum who show defective adapters from the power supply manufacturer Be quiet with loose wires. The company is currently investigating the matter. Such production errors or simply suboptimal handling by the user could have caused the scorched plugs. So far these are isolated cases with no confirmation of a general issue with the 12VHPWR power connector.

AMD’s head of the Radeon division, Scott Herkelmann, nevertheless took the opportunity for a small dig on Twitter: The upcoming Radeon RX 7000 series graphics cards do not use the 12VHPWR power connector – so they will probably stick with the larger 8-pin connectors.

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