A hot potato: It's hard to believe that Nvidia's RTX 4090 turned one year old today. Maybe that's because every few months, Meltgate rears its ugly head. Yes. Another user has reported that his 4090 committed suicide after working just fine for a year.
Just when you thought it was safe to use your 12VHPWR cable with your RTX 4090 again, another incident of GPU meltdown pops up in the forums. Redditor Byogore reports that he bought an Asus 4090 in Germany a year ago because of US supply issues. The card worked totally fine until it self-immolated two days ago. This incident is unusual because typically failures have happened much sooner.
Other Redditors quickly questioned whether Byogore had the connectors seated securely since "user error" was one of Nvidia's excuses when the issue arose shortly after the RTX4090 launch. Byogore defended his ability to properly attach a computer component.
"Clearly, I did..." he pointed out. "If this was a seating issue, it would've died ages ago. I've used it a lot."
He also pointed to a video from a California repair shop, NorthridgeFix, that said it has seen many 4090s spontaneously combusting (below). Based on internal tests, NorthridgeFix is adamant that the problem is not the cables, connectors, bending, PSUs, or user error.
"The fact that the 90-degree cable mod adapter [to prevent bending] was plugged in fully to the connector and the connector still melted, then we know that we have a problem with the card. We have a problem with the card. We do not have a problem with the cable. It's not user error, it's not a cable not plugged in properly problem, it's not a cable mod problem, but it's a problem with the design and the engineering of the card."
NorthridgeFix also points out that even if the problem was caused by user error, it's still Nvidia's fault. For instance, if a user is plugging in a cable as they do with any other, past or present, and it leaves a 1mm gap that causes failure, that is not the user's fault. When there is a tolerance issue like that, it is the manufacturer's responsibility to fix it or design a mechanism to prevent it, not blame the user for not plugging it in correctly and doing nothing more about it.
Byogore says that the meltdown happened while he was playing Battlefield 2042. The screen turned black, but the audio continued. Then, the computer rebooted itself. As it started up, he could smell burnt plastic. The card still worked, but only briefly before crashing and burning again. Byogore mentioned that he has a 1,000W Corsair PSU and that the 4090 was undervolted at the time of the catastrophic failure. However, he didn't note whether his PSU was ATX 3.0. The problem only seems to occur on older ATX 2.0 power supplies.
Fortunately, Asus has been very empathetic and generous to Byogore's plight. When he contacted customer service, they offered to upgrade him with a new Strix card (from a TUF model) or give him a full refund. Presumably, the card was still under warranty since it was two days shy of its first anniversary.
Nvidia has been reluctant to accept any blame for the 4090's hot-button woes. It initially blamed users for not securing the cable tightly to the socket. Later, it said that "poorly designed" 12VHPWR adapters were to blame. The last time the issue popped up enough to make news was last May. The ongoing problem has even sucked Nvidia into a class-action lawsuit.