GeForce RTX 4090 Claims Its First Cable Connector Casualty, Check Out The Aftermath

hero burned 12vhpwr connector
Back when we were hearing rumors about the GeForce RTX 4090's monstrous power draw, there were fears that the humongous current demands of the massive graphics processor could trip breakers or even start fires. These fears were amplified when Zotac warned of the concerning fragility of the 12VHPWR connector. Now, we've got the first report from a regular user that his GeForce RTX 4090's 12VHPWR adapter has combusted.

burned rtx4090 12vhpwr
This image, below image, and top image credit to /u/reggie_gakil on Reddit.

Posting on the NVIDIA subreddit, /u/reggie_gakil simply says his "RTX 4090 Adapter burned." He shared a picture of the card and of the adapter, both of which are reproduced here. In the thread, he comments that he was playing Red Dead Redemption 2 when it happened, and remarkably, the card itself is still functional, although he intends to RMA it regardless.

Both NVIDIA as well as CableMod reached out to the user in the thread. NVIDIA spoke to him in DM, so we have no idea what they were discussing, but CableMod offered to replace the user's adapter for him.

reggie gakil burned 4090 adapter
A photo of his system before the ignition. Note the slight bend in the GPU power cable.

Also in the thread, /u/reggie_gakil shared an image of his system after it was built. At a glance, there's nothing concerning here. However, you will notice that the 12VHPWR cables are bent slightly to the right. They look fairly lax and don't seem to be pulled taut, but nevertheless, that degree of horizontal bend seems to be sufficient to cause the failure of the connector.

That's supported by the guide from CableMod, who says to give at least 3.5cm of clearance before bending the 12VHPWR cables vertically, and to never bend them horizontally at all. That makes cable routing a little difficult in most cases, where the GPU's power connector and the pass-through for the cable routing plates aren't likely to match up exactly on either axis.

cablemod 12vhpwr recommendation
Cablemod's guide recommends to avoid bending the wires horizontally at all.

The 12VHPWR connector has six pins to supply power at 12 volts. At a total load of 600 watts, that means each pin is carrying slightly less than 8.4A. That's just barely under the 9A safe current limit for AWG 18 wires, and doesn't have a ton of clearance for the 15A limit on solid-core AWG 16 copper wires, because if it happens that one or more of the pins fails to make a good contact, that current will be distributed across the rest of the wires.

According to Buildzoid, the fellow who runs the YouTube channel Actually Hardcore Overclocking, the fault isn't in the wires themselves, but actually in the connectors. Like with most internal PC connectors, including all power connectors, the actual electrical leads aren't attached to the plastic connector housing in any way; they're just kind of enclosed by it. He proposes that bonding the electric leads to the connector housing could help mitigate this issue.
cablemod 90 degree 12vhpwr adapter

Alternatively, longer cable housings that prevent the cables from bending could help. CableMod already plans to sell a 90° adapter that might prevent this problem and make cable routing much easier in the majority of cases. Whatever the end result, we hope we don't hear about a bunch more of these kinds of failures.