Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080

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Nvidia’s much-rumored upcoming GeForce RTX 3080 and its fellow Ampere consumer GPUs are set to be very powerful graphics cards — to the point where they might need a new power connector. 

Our sibling site Tom’s Hardware was tipped off that the next-generation Nvidia graphics cards will require a new 12-pin PCIe connector that’s capable of delivering up to 600W of power. And the rumors point towards Ampere-based GeForce cards requiring 400W to power them. 

Effectively this means that people keen to upgrade their gaming PCs to the new high-end GeForce cards could need a new power supply unit (PSU) with a new PCIe connector. Currently, the GeForce RTX 20-series graphics cards use eight-pin connectors to deliver power from the PSU to the cards. 

You can create a 12-pin connection by combining two six-pin connectors. But that would involve using more cables from the PSU, which could make cable management a nightmare. And more cables in a case means more potential restrictions to airflow, which can result in PCs getting too hot and throttling their performance. 

But Tom’s Hardware’s source said that Nvidia will require brand new 12-pin connectors all together. That will very likely mean PC gamers might need to get a new PSU, which would effectively mean that they have to take their PC apart.

Nvidia 12-pin connctor illustration

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

The technical illustrations for the connection shows that it measures 19 x 14 x 8.35mm, which translates roughly to two 6-pin connectors together. But the pins in the illustrated connector have a new layout, so combining two 6-pin existing connectors doesn’t look to be a solution to this problem. 

Even if this wasn’t the case, the potential 400W power draw of the next-generation GeForce graphics cards means a powerful PSU will be needed. And that could again force people looking to upgrade their gaming PCs to get a new PSU. 

Tom’s Hardware speculated that a single 12-pin cable could just be for the Founders Edition GeForce cards and high-end third-party graphics cards, which aim to keep cabling as minimal and as efficient as possible. Other versions of the Ampere-based GeForce cards could make do with two 6-pin connections, providing that they will bring enough power to the GPUs. 

With nothing official from Nvidia around its next-generation GeForce GPUs, we’ll have to wait and see if they will require a major PC retrofit or will simply be able to replace existing GeForce RTX graphics cards. Ampere-based GeForce graphics cards may be revealed sometime around September, when we hope to find out how much graphical firepower Nvidia can bring to the graphics world ahead of the PS5 and Xbox Series X launch.  

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