Nvidia RTX 4090 cable controversy rolls on as PSU maker looks to help owners

An Nvidia RTX 4090 showing power connector
(Image credit: Future)

Nvidia’s RTX 4090 graphics card looks to be getting a third-party adapter which is built with a right-angled design – we’ll explain more in a moment – from a major power supply manufacturer, as the card suffers further reports of melting cables.

Yes, unfortunately there have been another two reported cases of melted adapter cables with Nvidia’s official solution that hooks up the RTX 4090 to an ATX 2.0 power supply, as Tom’s Hardware reports. Which brings the total up to four incidents, with Nvidia already having said it’s investigating the first report which reached the company’s ears.

The purported problem is with the 16-pin connector that needs an adapter (4 x 8-pin to 16-pin) to hook up the RTX 4090 to an ATX 2.0 PSU (as opposed to an ATX 3.0 product, models fresh on the scene which can directly use the 16-pin connector).

The problem is that it’s difficult to fit that adapter in many PC cases, with it having to be bent round at a sharp angle – and the pins not being seated properly as a result has been seen as the most likely culprit for these alarming instances of cables melting.

The theory is that having a right-angled power connector – one that can more easily fit in the PC case without having to be jammed up against the side panel (or close to it) – will mean less strain on the connector, and less likelihood of it not being fitted properly to the 4090 graphics card.

This solution is what Seasonic is apparently ushering in, as seen on Chinese forum Bilibili, a post which HXL flagged up on Twitter (again via Tom’s Hardware). Add your own seasoning as ever with sources like this.

Analysis: A necessary visit to caveat corner

Seasonic isn’t the first company to have had this particular brainwave, as you may be aware. Cablemod has already aired its 90-degree angled adapter solution, one that’s supposed to be available for pre-order come the end of October.

We don’t yet know when Seasonic’s take on the right-angled adapter for the RTX 4090 will arrive, or indeed if it will – remember, this is info pulled from Bilibili, so we should regard it with a great deal of caution. And the Bilibili poster further notes that it’s just a sample product (in the comments), so we don’t have any confirmation it will be realized.

There are other caveats here, too, with these kinds of third-party adapters. Remember that Nvidia does not allow for the use of anything but the official adapter with the RTX 4090 – and turning to an alternative will void your warranty. That’s a serious issue right there, of course.

Some folks are also arguing that it’s not the cable angle, as much as the fundamental design of the connector itself which is the real problem in dealing with the wattage which can be gulped down by the RTX 4090. (Considerably more than 450W with spikes in power usage, particularly if you’re looking at overclocked custom models of the 4090, naturally). But if that connector isn’t up to the job, surely that would be something Nvidia’s testing would’ve uncovered – or we’d hope so, anyway.

And if the problem is one of seating the connector, the most prominent theory, surely a right-angled adapter would at least help somewhat in terms of mitigating any tension caused by having to bend a stiff cable around?

All of this is speculation at the moment, though, and we need Nvidia’s official word on what’s going on with these worrying cases of cable melt, naturally. Hopefully that’ll be forthcoming soon enough, and equally we can hope that we won’t get more reports of this problem coming in from other RTX 4090 buyers – as if that reality comes to fruition, well, obviously that’d be very disappointing.

Meanwhile, AMD has been quick to confirm that its next-gen RDNA 3 flagship, which is on the verge of being revealed, will not use the same style of power adapter as the RTX 4090.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).