Is a 16-Pin GPU Power Connector Safe to Use in 2024?

In Short
  • Some RTX 40 Super GPUs released by AIB partners are not using 12V-2X6. Instead, the older 12VHPWR is being used.
  • Nvidia RTX 40 Super Founders Edition is found to be using 12V-2X6, which is reportedly safe to use and won't melt even when not plugged in all the way.
  • 12VHPWR can be safe to use, but only when implemented correctly.

Nvidia introduced the 16-pin GPU power connector back when the company launched the RTX 30 Series GPUs. However, it was found soon after that 12VHPWR had issues. Some people found their RTX 4090 GPU power cables in a molten state! This saga has been going on for a long time. At present, the PCI-SIG consortium (which develops new PCI standards, including connector designs) released the updated 12V-2X6 standard in mid-2023.

It looks like Nvidia’s new Founders Edition RTX 40 Super is using a new 12V-2X6 standard, which is safer & more reliable. So yes, the new Founders edition won’t melt. As IgorsLab reported, Nvidia had already started using the new 12V-2X6 connector on its GPUs. So, as an extension, the new RTX 40 Super series Founders Edition variant GPUs should also feature 12V-2X6. already. But guess what?

Some RTX 40 Super GPUs Are Still Using 12VHPWR

As it turns out, teardowns have revealed that some new GPUs released by brands (such as MSI) under the brand new RTX 40 Super lineup: RTX 4070 Super, RTX 4080 Super, and RTX 4070 Ti Super are still using the older 12VHPWR standard for the 16-pin GPU power connector implementation!

The X (formerly Twitter) user @wxnod, who has shared reliable information related to PC hardware in the past, has highlighted this. His latest post shows that some specific (not mentioned which brands) newly released RTX 40 Super AIB cards are sadly not using the new 12V-2X6 standard!

Moreover, the IgorsLab report, which is linked above, also states that their teardown of an AIB card of Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 (notably the MSI’s Gaming X Trio edition) shows that the older 12VHPWR-style connector is being used!

Image Courtesy: Igorslab.de

16-Pin GPU Power Connector: 12VHPWR vs 12V-2X6 Safety

In late 2023, it was generally believed that the concerns over the 12VHPWR-based 16-pin GPU power connector were mitigated. Still, one Reddit user Byogore, reported that his $1599 RTX 4090 from ASUS just experienced the horrifying 12VHPWR issue where the connector cable melted. This happened exactly after one year, and reportedly, the user had zero issues with the graphics card beforehand.

Moreover, the PC hardware repair company NorthRidgeFix has also reported on many RTX 4090s being received by them experiencing the same problem. A highly popular stance is that when the 16-pin GPU power connector cable is not fully inserted, it becomes unsafe to use.

Despite this, many people who swear their cable was fully inserted had issues, too. Some even said it was hard to tell whether or not it was fully inserted.

The new 12V-2X6 power connector standard is simply safer and offers more reliability. It has been tested by HardwareBusters, whose findings reveal that the new standard survives 640W of power at acceptable temperatures.

It looks like the 16-pin GPU power connector standard doesn’t burn even when the connector is not fully inserted. Full details of the 12V-2X6 standard can be found here. As someone who builds PCs, I’m personally NOT going to opt for ANY graphics card or power supply that doesn’t operate on the 12V-2X6 standard.

How to Ensure Safety When Using 16-Pin GPU Power Connector

This begs an important question. How do PC builders like you and me know which kind of setup to use? What cables are safe? How do you confirm that a GPU that you’ll end up buying is as distanced as possible from issues like this?

I recently wanted to buy a PSU with a 16-pin power connector. In my research, I found out that if you are thinking of buying a graphics card or power supply that specifically utilizes the 16-pin GPU Power Connector for power, there is a “safer” way of implementing the new standard into your PC build while ensuring at least some reliability and safety.

12VHPWR is actually safe, when used in the correct implementation

Igorslab reports that their testing of a proper 12VHPWR implementation has temperatures in the 60 to 70 degrees C range. This was tested with 540W of power being sent through the setup. So, is it a really big deal to get a power supply or GPU that utilizes the older standard? Follow these pointers below to ensure as much safety & reliability of your PC build as possible:

  • Ensure the power supply has the correct implementation of 12VHPWR.
  • If you can’t get 12V-2X6, repeatedly check to ensure that your cables are plugged in all the way.
  • Request the brand’s GPU & Power Supply support team for information regarding which 16-pin power connector standard is being used on a product you’re interested in buying.
  • Try to get PC components based on the newer standard. If you simply cannot, then deeply research to ensure that the power supply has the correct implementation.
    • For example, the BeQuiet Dark Power Pro mentioned by Igorslab employs the use of thick 16AWG wires for every single pin of the GPU power connector.
    • Igorslab has documented the correct way to implement 12VHPWR here.

What To Do If Your 16-Pin GPU Power Cable Melts

Even then, if you have any issues or syndromes of the 16-Pin GPU power connector issue, contact your GPU manufacturer promptly to report the issue. Graphics cards come with a long warranty of 3 to 5 years.

You should be able to use the warranty to initiate an RMA when needed to obtain a GPU replacement. As I said, I will still heavily avoid anything in my PC builds that utilize the 12VHPWR standard. Only the components that use the newer, safer, and more reliable 12V-2X6 implementation would receive my consideration.

RTX 40 Super Still Using 12VHPWR, Is It Fixed Now?

Nvidia reportedly held a meeting last year with its board partners to address the issue. GPUs were reportedly sent to them to investigate the issue. There is a clear indication that Nvidia and its board partners have had official discussions.

With that, I want to believe that new RTX 40 Super GPUs (even the ones that are using 12VHPWR instead of 12V-2X6) are probably safe to use. They could have some form of mitigation over the previous implementations.

The RTX 40 Super Founders Edition GPUs seem to use the safer 12V-2X6, but some AIB cards reportedly use older 12VHPWR standard | Image Courtesy: Nvidia

Still, I find it somewhat baffling why the 12V-2X6 standard isn’t being implemented across the board. Why doesn’t every single graphics card of the new RTX 40 Super graphics card lineup use it?

Notably, the chipmaker AMD has not used a 16-pin power connector in any of their new GPUs. I suppose they dodged a major bullet with that decision. AMD GPU owners don’t have to worry at all about these issues. Even high TDP cards like the RX 7900 XTX are using the older 8-pin, which doesn’t seem to have issues.

I hope to see 12VHPWR completely phased out by the time the RTX 50 series comes out. By then, I believe even AMD can finally consider adopting the new standard. I highly hope their implementation across every graphics card is based on 12V-2X6.

What are your thoughts on the 16-pin GPU power connector? Will you be considering a new graphics card for your PC build that uses this design? Let us know in the comments below.

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