The saga of the 12VHPWR connector, an updated 12+4 power rail for PCIe 5.0 graphics card designs, rolls on. As you may recall, the PCI-SIG has been working on a tweaked version of the connection called 12V-6×6 (just rolls off the tongue, don’t it?) that addresses some of the apparent issues with incomplete and potentially unsafe connections. Though the spec is a long, long away from being finalized, some users think they’ve spotted the updated connectors on Nvidia RTX 4070 cards in the wild, and now you can add the RTX 4090 to the list.
A Reddit user going by “prackprackprack” closely inspecting their new RTX 4090 Founder’s Edition (the first-party version of the GPU made and sold directly from Nvidia) thinks they’re seeing the shortened connector pins first revealed by Igor’s Lab. The post (spotted by Tom’s Hardware) isn’t exactly scientific, but upon casual examination, it sure does look like the pins are shorter than the ones on the standard 12VHPWR connections we’ve seen over the last year. That small tweak in physical design means the connection must be more fully and securely inserted to assure a safe connection, and the card will (presumably) fail to power up if it’s only partially inserted. The connection has the same 600-watt maximum as the older design.
Actual cases of GPU or power supply damage from overheating or melting 12VHPWR have been relatively few, but they’re frequent and consistent enough to be concerning, especially when owners are spending $1,000 or more on the latest and greatest graphics card. So far Nvidia hasn’t said anything about trying out the updated 12V-6×6 design or implementing the software changes that go along with the tweaked hardware. No third-party cards from manufacturers like Gigabyte or MSI have been spotted with the adjusted connection.
As a member of the PCI-SIG, it’s not surprising that Nvidia would work on the 12V-6×6 connector long before it’s finalized. But the company must be very confident in its efficacy — or extremely concerned about the issues with the 12VHPWR — if it’s already installing them in cards sold to retail customers.