Why it matters: The 16-pin 12VHPWR power cables for Nvidia’s recent graphics cards have been controversial since users began reporting melting adapter plugs late last year. The company quietly upgraded to a new specification this summer, and recent tests suggest the latest standard is significantly safer.
HardwareBusters and power cable manufacturer Linwell recently posted positive safety test results for the new 12V-2×6 headers that are now standard in Nvidia RTX 4000 graphics cards. Users worried about burning or melting cables should be particularly pleased to learn that the updated connectors are safe even when improperly attached.
The Peripheral Component Interconnect Special Interest Group (PCI-SIG) released the new specification in July after dozens of RTX 4090 owners complained that the GPU’s 16-pin 12VHPWR power connectors melted or burned after a few months. Nvidia’s investigation blamed the problem on users who didn’t securely connect their cables, but others suspected poorly manufactured adapters. In any case, the graphics card company switched to the 12V-2×6 revision soon after its introduction.
HardwareBusters showed Linwell – which supplies power cables for Asus hardware – testing the new standard under 55 Amps for around 15 minutes. Thermal scanners consistently measured the connector’s temperatures below 46 degrees Celsius throughout the trial.
Linwell then ran a second test after deliberately bending the cables and improperly connecting them to replicate the conditions Nvidia suspects damaged many RTX 4090s. Still, the temperature remained below 41 degrees, nowhere near hot enough to burn or melt. HardwareBusters credits the new, more conductive pins with minimizing resistance, even under high power loads.
So far, users haven’t reported damaged 12V-2×6 plugs, so they appear safer than the original RTX 4000 series connectors. Customers shopping for Ada Lovelace GPUs should confirm that they have the H++ marker on the top of the power connector rather than the old H+ identifier.
Users with legacy models who can’t afford to exchange their cards should switch to ATX 3.0 power supplies instead of using adapters to connect 16-pin 12VHPWR plugs into ATX 2.0 PSUs. The newer PSUs may be costlier, but they’re less expensive than potentially replacing a damaged GPU.
Meanwhile, AMD’s latest RDNA 3 graphics cards don’t use 12VHPWR – a difference the company has used to poke fun at Team Green. However, Asus might get the last laugh as it considers abandoning graphics card power cables altogether after demonstrating a GPU design featuring a PCIe power connector that can deliver at least 600W. Cableless RTX 4070 revisions, which require new motherboards, should begin shipping either late this year or in early 2024.