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 suit in a California court on November 11. Our good friends at Tom's Hardware (opens in a new tab) spotted the filing on litigation case aggregator Justia (opens in a new tab), and we can see from the updates that an official subpoena was sent to Nvidia on the 15th of November.
If you haven't been following this controversy, we've posted a detailed explanation, but we'll summarize it here for the sake of brevity. In short, the '16VHPWR' 12-pin power adapter used to connect the RTX 4090 to an ATX 2.0 power supply contains an unknown defect that can cause the adapter to reach high temperatures, posing a direct safety risk, particularly a fire. as well as the risk of damaging the high-end GPU.
A Reddit mega thread (opens in a new tab) has been aware of the reported cases of cable meltdown, and the first Founders Edition RTX 4090 fell victim to the fatal flaw this week. At the time of writing this report, the number of confirmed cases is 26 (with another six unconfirmed). The megawire is expected to be entered into evidence at the upcoming trial.
Analysis: Nvidia is really in trouble now
The Genoa class action lawsuit claims that Nvidia sold GPUs that had "defective and unsafe power cord plugs and receptacles, rendering consumer boards unusable and posing a serious electrical and fire hazard to all purchasers."
That's a bold statement, and one that we don't necessarily disagree with, but it's fair to say that the "everyone and everybody" part is a bit hyperbolic. In a recent Gamers Nexus YouTube video, it was alleged that an Nvidia partner estimated the failure rate of the 12VHPWR adapter at 0.05-0.1%; in other words, an RTX 4090 card out of 1500 on average.
So if you were 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 by inserting the adapter correctly and using a small amount of dielectric grease should prevent the board from catching fire. Power supply expert JonnyGuru explained this in his recent blog post (opens in a new tab) regarding the issue.
Despite this, it seems that Lucas Genova is not convinced. He claims that he has "experience installing computer components like graphics cards," presumably in an effort to avoid an immediate "user error" response from Nvidia. His lawsuit accuses Team Green of a litany of crimes, including unjust enrichment, breach of warranty and even fraud.
Since this is a class action lawsuit, it is possible that other affected parties could join the original plaintiff, meaning this case could quickly blow up in Nvidia's face. We'll be monitoring this situation closely, and hopefully Nvidia will too, but so far the official line from the GPU giant remains that we're "continuing to investigate the reports," with no further updates.