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Nvidia faces lawsuit for melting RTX 4090 cables as AMD has a laugh

Law firm wants class-action status, says issue poses 'serious electrical and fire hazard'

A lawsuit seeking class-action status has accused Nvidia of misleading consumers over the safety of the company's GeForce RTX 4090 graphics cards due to growing reports of melting cables.

The lawsuit, filed on November 11 by Lucas Genova in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, looks to charge Nvidia with unjustly enriching itself, committing fraud, breaching the implied warranty, and violating two New York statutes in the sale of the faulty RTX 4090 cards.

Nvidia must respond to Genova's claims by December, according to a summons issued Wednesday. In a Friday update, the company says its investigation has led it to believe the RTX 4090 power cable is melting because users are not fully plugging it in. Nvidia suggests users plug the connector into the graphics card before slotting it into the motherboard and provided an image of what a properly seated connector should look like.

However, Nvidia did not rule out other issues. "We are investigating additional ways to ensure that the connector is secure before powering on the graphics card," the company says. Nvidia added that the company and its board partners will expedite authorized returns, regardless of the cable or card used.

The lawsuit cites several reports pointing to the RTX 4090's 12-volt high-power (12VHPWR) power connector or the card's power socket melting after use. An ongoing Reddit post has identified 26 confirmed reports of RTX 4090 cards with melting cables, and they have occurred in Nvidia's Founders Edition board as well as cards made by third parties like Asus, Gigabyte, and MSI.

Nvidia launched the RTX 4090 in October with a $1,499 suggested retail price. Due to the 450 watts required for regular power consumption and 600 watts for overclocking, the GPU behemoth introduced the 12VHPWR power connector to maintain adequate energy levels. Twelve of the cable's pins supply power to the card while four other "sensing" pins monitor the card's wattage.

The lawsuit states that Genova noticed that the 12VHPWR power connector had melted at the point where it plugs into the RTX 4090 shortly after it was installed. The user wasn't aware of defects before this happened, and he wouldn't have purchased the card – or he would have paid much less for the card – had he known this was an issue, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit calls this meltdown a "serious electrical and fire hazard." It argues that "As such, the cards are unsafe for anyone to use in their present configuration."

The lawsuit claims users who reported the melting cable issue properly installed the RTX 4090, and that the problem stems from a design flaw connected to how the wattage flows through the 12VHPWR's 16 pins.

"If there is even a temporary break in the electrical connection for any of the pins, too high a current will flow through the remaining pins, causing a meltdown."

Among the charges made, Nvidia "unjustly enriched" itself by taking money from consumers for graphics cards without disclosing they had defective power cables, the lawsuit alleges. This also breached the warranty implied in the sale of RTX 4090 cards and constitutes fraud, the lawsuit further claims.

Lawyers representing Genova are seeking to gain class-action status for the lawsuit, which would allow anyone who purchased an RTX 4090 card to seek damages. This excludes those who bought an RTX 4090 for reselling purposes.

The lawsuit is also looking to form a sub-class of New York residents who purchased the card because it alleges violations of two state statutes related to deceptive business practices.

If class-action status is granted, the number of class members would be in the thousands, according to lawsuit, though the precise number is currently unknown.

The law firm representing the plaintiff, New York-based Bursor and Fisher, wants a trial by jury and is seeking compensatory, statutory, and punitive damages, plus pre-judgement interest on all awards as well as restitution.

Nvidia's main GPU rival, AMD, apparently couldn't help itself and roasted the GeForce designer over the melting cable issue. On Thursday, Sasa Marinkovic, senior director of gaming marketing at AMD, tweeted: "Stay safe this holiday season," and attached an image of the dual 8-pin connector design of AMD's new Radeon RX 7900 products that have been standard in high-end cards.

AMD best be careful tossing stones in silicon houses, considering that electric vehicle maker Tesla had to recall nearly 130,000 of its cars earlier this year due to overheating Ryzen processors used in the infotainment system. ®

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