Nvidia RTX 4090: So hot they're melting power cables

Flaming 'eck!

GPUs have been a hot commodity but this is ridiculous. Nvidia's use of a 600W power socket and cable with its RTX graphics cards may have sounded like a good idea at the time but some users have reported overheating issues.

One unlucky user uploaded photos of an Nv-branded 12VHPWR power cable that had melted where it plugs into their RTX 4090. The cable feeds power from the PC's PSU into the GPU card.

"It smelled badly and I saw smoke," the Redditor explained, adding that the power connector appeared to be the issue since the card still worked despite the damage sustained. 

A second Reddit post described a similar experience with an RTX 4090, which only went on sale earlier this month, sharing photos of their card, which showed less damage, but still sported melted power connectors on the GPU board and cable end. 

The 12VHPWR power connector and cabling used by Nvidia RTX 4090s was revealed earlier this year along with Intel's new ATX power supply specs. Those PSUs were designed to support power-hungry PCIe gen-5 graphics cards that require more power. The 12VHPWR connector and cable can deliver 600W to the GPU from a suitable PSU. 

There is actually a problem with those power adapters, said the industry group responsible for PCI standards, PCI-SIG. In a letter sent to members in September, PCI-SIG said it was "aware that some implementations of the 12VHPWR connectors and assemblies have demonstrated thermal variance, which could result in safety issues under certain conditions." 

Custom cable maker Cablemod goes into more detail about the cause of the problems, namely that any bending of the wires within 35mm of the connector "may lead to an uneven load across the other wires, increasing the risk of overheating damage." It's even worse if the cable is bent vertically, we're told.

Whether these users had bent their cables in such a fashion is unknown, as is Nvidia's response to the problem. In the original Reddit post, a moderator noted that Nvidia was in direct contact with the original poster, but the content of their discussion and Nvidia's possible responses, are unknown.

Nvidia's 40-series graphics cards were only revealed by the company in September, but check the date on that linked story: It's from the 20th, whereas news of PCI-SIG's letter came out on the 10th of the month. Nvidia is a member of PCI-SIG, and so should have known there were issues in the cables being used to power its newest flagship cards.

Right around the time the RTX 4090 went on sale, Nvidia pulled the release of the lower-end version of its other new card, the RTX 4080, because of concerns over confusion stemming from two cards with the same designation. Melting cables, on the other hand, appear to be less of a concern - at least not one great enough to stop the card from going on sale. 

"We are investigating the reports. We are in contact with the first owner and will be reaching out to the other for additional information," Nvidia told The Register. We will update if we get further word. ®

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