Not long after the launch of the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 reports of melting connectors began surfacing which prompted investigations from the manufacturer, its partners, and multiple hardware reviewers. NVIDIA and its AIB partners had begun transitioning to a 16-pin 12VHPWR connector, that is cable of delivering up to 600 Watts, with its GeForce RTX 30-series cards and fully committed to it with the launch of the GeForce RTX 40 series. Eventually, after extensive testing, it was discovered that the culprit for the melting connector phenomenon was improperly seated cable plugs. This could be caused by the user not fully inserting the cable plug into the card, or not giving the connector enough clearance from the graphics card thereby causing a strain on it from excessive bending of the cable. In turn, an improperly inserted cable plug could have decreased the connector contact area causing the contacts to overheat and melt the surrounding plastic. It is because of this that Intel recommends using a specific type of male connector for the cables to help ensure a greater contact area to reduce the temperature rise of each contact.
“Crimp Contacts inside of the cable plug are recommended to use the 4 Spring design instead of 3 dimple design (as shown in below figure) which will increase the contact area for electrical current flow inside the 12VHWPR connector and reduce the temperature rise of each contact. Below figure image courtesy of Wieson* Technologies Co., Ltd.”
Igor’s Lab Spotted a 4 Spring Design Early On
As discovered by Igor Wallossek (Igor’s Lab), at least one manufacturer (NTK) had already been using the 4 spring design and it had already been suspected that the 3 dimple version was less than optimal but at the time data was still being gathered regarding for what had begun to be jokingly called “adapter gate”. Eventually, news about melting cable connectors decreased and additional instructional images were released to aid users in understanding the proper way to insert the cable plugs into cards. PCI-SIG even went so far as to issue a warning to its members that manufacturers using the 16-pin 12VHPWR connector need “to take all appropriate and prudent measures to ensure end user safety, including testing for the reported problem cases involving consumers […].”
As Intel recommends using the 4 spring design it has also been reported that PCI-SIG may be working on a revision to the 12VHPWR connector but that revision is not intended to address the former melting issues and only improve the connection for the 4 extra sense pins. These sense pins are said to aid the PSU in communicating with the graphics card in regulating its power needs.