We’ve been closely following the ‘cablegate’ controversy surrounding the new Nvidia RTX 4090 graphics card, and in a new development in this ongoing saga, a consumer has filed a class action lawsuit against the GPU manufacturer.
Lucas Genova, the plaintiff, originally filed the lawsuit in a California court on November 11. Tom’s hardware (opens in new tab) located the filing in the litigation records aggregator justice (opens in new tab)and we can see from the updates that an official summons was issued to Nvidia on November 15th.
If you haven’t been following this controversy, we’ve posted a detailed explainer, but we’ll summarize here for the sake of brevity. In short, the 16-pin ’12VHPWR’ power adapter used to connect the RTX 4090 to an ATX 2.0 power supply contains an unknown fault that could cause the adapter to reach high temperatures, posing a direct safety risk – specifically, fire. – as well as the risk of damage to the high-end GPU.
ONE Reddit megathread (opens in new tab) has been keeping up with reported instances of cable melting, with the first Founders Edition RTX 4090 falling victim to the fatal glitch just this week. At the time of this writing, the number of confirmed cases stands at 26 (with a further six unconfirmed cases). The megathread is expected to be presented as evidence in the upcoming lawsuit.
Analysis: Nvidia is really in trouble right now
Genova’s class-action lawsuit states that Nvidia sold GPUs that had “defective and dangerous plugs and sockets, which rendered consumers’ cards inoperable and posed a serious electrical and fire hazard to any and all purchasers.”
It’s a bold statement, and we don’t necessarily disagree with it, but it’s fair to say that the ‘each and every one’ part is a bit of a stretch. in a recent Video Gamers Nexus on YouTube, it was claimed that an Nvidia partner put the 12VHPWR adapter’s failure rate at 0.05-0.1% – in other words, one out of every 1,500 RTX 4090 cards on average.
So if you’ve been lucky enough to get your hands on the world’s most powerful GPU, don’t panic right away: while the exact cause of the failure has yet to be determined, it appears that correctly inserting the adapter and using a small amount of dielectric grease must prevent the card from catching fire. PSU expert JonnyGuru explained this in his recent blog post (opens in new tab) about the issue.
Despite this, it seems that Lucas Genova is not convinced. He claims he has “experience installing computer components such as graphics cards”, presumably in an attempt to avoid an immediate ‘user error’ response from Nvidia. His lawsuit accuses Team Green of a range of crimes, including unjust enrichment, breach of warranty and even fraud.
As this is a class-action lawsuit, there is potential for other affected parties to join the original plaintiff, meaning this case could quickly blow up in Nvidia’s face. We’ll be watching this situation closely, and hopefully Nvidia will too, but so far the GPU giant’s official line remains that “we continue to investigate reports”, with no further updates.