12-pin power connector cable for NVIDIA’s next high-end GPU

With NVIDIA expected to announce its next-gen GeForce series of graphics cards earlier this month, naturally we’re hearing one rumor after another about what it might bring. To NVIDIA’s credit, the company does pretty well overall at keeping most things under wraps, although there are some details that slip through and we’re sure the company could do without going public in advance.

Over the weekend, it was revealed that at least the high-end next-gen GeForce cards will use a single Twelve– pin power connection, instead of double 8 pin. At the surface level, this move seems a bit pointless, given that no current power supply has such a connector natively. Well, now that we’ve seen a glimpse of this cute new 12-pin connector, we’re wondering what the future holds:

As you can see this new 12 pin connector is smaller (overall) than a single 8 pin connector, but that would be the only one that you plug in. In time, a PSU might offer this plug-and-play connector, but for now everyone will have to take advantage of a cable that will turn a power supply’s dual 8-pin connectors into a single 12. pins used to plug into this board.

At first we thought switching to another cable was potentially redundant, but now that we realize the end result is actually smaller than our typical connectors, it suddenly got intriguing. A single cable means even easier installation, not to mention a cleaner end result. Of course, all of this assumes that there are no hidden caveats that we overlook.

Just looking at the connector, the pins are roughly the same size as existing PCIe power connectors, which means the current-carrying capabilities should remain unchanged (or improved), but the insulating shroud around each pin is much smaller, reducing the footprint. What is worth mentioning is the difference between the 6-pin and 8-pin PCIe power connectors. The 8-pin has two extra ground pins and was introduced to ensure that power supplies could provide the 150 watts needed, rather than the usual 75 watts of a 6-pin. The extra pins are not strictly necessary and are more of a safety feature than anything else.

With this new 12 pin connector it is physically similar to two pairs of 6 pins with the extra ground pins removed, meaning a 300 watt connector; however, this new connector is reported to be capable of much more (450-600 watts), as it is part of the Molex Micro-Fit line. The pins are slightly larger which would handle higher current, but the wire gauge used by most PSUs would still limit the maximum current below this spec. Either way, we’ll see the exact spec closer to the release date.

Ultimately, it looks like this cable change could ultimately be made to increase the overall power output of the card. Today’s GPUs might perform well with current power options, but future cards will clearly become a bit more power-hungry, requiring more headroom.

If nothing else, this move intrigued us the most simply due to the fact that we hardly ever see different power connectors on our graphics cards. As far back as many of us can remember, we’ve always plugged in a 6 or 8 pin cable. The smaller size of the new connector is also a major advantage. Now, it looks like some of our test PCs could use a power boost.

What do you think of this new connector?

Alan A. Seibert