Image of the RTX 4090 propped up on its packaging, with a pair of Twitter 'fire' emojis on either side of it.

The RTX 4090, blissfully untouched by melted cables. (Image credit: Future, Twitter)

Remember the RTX 4090 cable-melting fiasco? Way back in November 2022, following the launch of Nvidia’s mighty new flagship RTX 4090 graphics card, there were scattered reports of the GPU’s power connector overheating and melting, effectively rendering the $1,599 (£1,519/AU$2,959) component unusable. Now, almost a year and a half later, it looks like the problem is still causing headaches for PC gamers.

California-based tech repair shop Northridge Fix reported on its YouTube channel that the cable crisis is far from over, with the repair team still receiving as many as 200 damaged RTX 4090 cards every month. Online outrage about the problem appears to have died down significantly, with no apparent headway made by the small assortment of lawsuits brought against Nvidia in the aftermath of the launch.

Nvidia RTX 4090 melted adapter cable

Sights like this melted power connector were all too common in the wake of the RTX 4090 launch (Image credit: Party_Quail_1048 (Reddit) / Nvidia)

For the uninitiated, the whole issue stems from a specific 16-pin power connector standard named 12VHPWR, which was introduced with the RTX 4090 and required a bundled adapter for older ATX power supplies. A small design flaw caused some connectors to overheat when the connector was improperly inserted, resulting in the plastic housing melting. Although Nvidia released a statement addressing the crisis, it essentially just agreed to honor any warranties.

We reported in October 2023 that RTX 4090 units were still failing, despite various attempts from third parties to resolve the issue. Some enterprising hardware heads suggested power-limiting your GPU, while cable manufacturer CableMod briefly offered a right-angled adapter designed to reduce strain on the 16-pin connector, only for this clever fix to be rapidly recalled due to a risk of (you guessed it) overheating and melting issues damaging even more GPUs.

Is there an end in sight?

It’s undeniably a bad look for Nvidia, though we still don’t have any concrete statistics on how many RTX 4090s ended up on the repair bench (or in landfill). There were reports that the GPU sold 160,000 units in its first week, and some analysis from our colleagues over at Tom’s Hardware earlier this year suggests anywhere between one and three million total units shifted – in other words, the failure rate does seem low.

But for one hardware shop to be receiving 200 busted cards a month is still a not-insignificant amount, and it occurs to me that Nvidia is extremely lucky that no one’s house has burned down as a result of an overheating 4090.

CableMod adapter connected to RTX 4090

CableMod was forced to recall its own 12VHPWR adapter after it was also found to be at risk of overheating (Image credit: CableMod)

However, we might now be at the tail end of this whole mess. Late last year, YouTube channel Hardware Busters got a behind-the-scenes look at a new 12V-2×6 power connector, which is designed to replace the 12VHPWR connector with superior power delivery and without a risk of catastrophic failure. Asus also revealed a new connector called GC-HPWR, which has already been implemented on some Asus GPUs.

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Still, it’s a frustrating end to a tale as old as time: company makes a mistake, consumers suffer, and there are little to no consequences. It’s little wonder that Nvidia might be getting out of the consumer GPU market.

We have reached out to Nvidia for comment, and we’ll update this article should any new official statement be released.

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Christian is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing Editor. He came to us from Maximum PC magazine, where he fell in love with computer hardware and building PCs. He was a regular fixture amongst our freelance review team before making the jump to TechRadar, and can usually be found drooling over the latest high-end graphics card or gaming laptop before looking at his bank account balance and crying.

Christian is a keen campaigner for LGBTQ+ rights and the owner of a charming rescue dog named Lucy, having adopted her after he beat cancer in 2021. She keeps him fit and healthy through a combination of face-licking and long walks, and only occasionally barks at him to demand treats when he’s trying to work from home.

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