New rumors are doing the rounds that suggest the Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti, and other upcoming Ampere graphics cards, could require a new 12-pin PCIe connector to provide the requisite power – and if true this could prove very frustrating for potential upgraders.
While current Nvidia graphics cards usually use eight-pin connectors from the PSU (power supply unit) to run, but a new technical illustration suggests that Nvidia is looking at using a new 12-pin PCIe power connector, measuring around 19 x 14 x 8.35mm.
The idea is that this new connector would be able to provide up to 648W via a single connector – which would be more than enough for even the most power-hungry of graphics cards. Which is just as well, as rumors suggest Ampere cards could require a whopping 350W to run.
To achieve this using standard eight-pin PCIe power connectors, you’d need to attach two (or more) six-pin or eight-pin connectors. Moving to a single 12-pin PCIe connector would make cable management in PC builds much easier – as you wouldn’t have loads of wires sticking out of a single GPU.
However, if Nvidia’s new GPUs do require a new connector, there could be frustrating consequences for upgraders.
Ripping everything out
According to the illustrations, the 12-pin PCIe power connector won’t just be a combination of two six-pin PCIe power connectors – they’ll also have a different pin layout.
That could mean that if you’re upgrading to the new GPUs, you can’t just simply slot the new card into your motherboard’s PCIe – you’ll also need to get a new PSU with cables for the new connector.
This could prove to be very inconvenient. Not only would you need to buy a new PSU – adding extra expense on top of an already costly upgrade – but you’ll need to remove your current PSU. Because the power supply unit is so integral to the PC – providing power to your motherboard and every other part of your computer – removing it and replacing it with a new one can be an extremely fiddly and annoying process.
Before you start planning on untangling your current PSU, remember that these are just rumors for the moment – though Tom’s Hardware has confirmed with its insider that the connector is indeed real, and has been submitted to the PCI-SIG standards body.
If the connector passes, we don’t know which GPUs would require it (third party GPUs from the likes of MSI and Asus may not need them, for example), or if you could get away with using an adaptor.
However, if you do need to replace your entire PSU, that could be a big consideration for people looking to upgrade.
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Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.