Intel has released the final ATX 3.0 power supply specification, and it’s the biggest PSU specification change in nearly 20 years. Computer hardware has changed a lot since then, especially GPU power requirements. ATX 3.0 power supplies will hit the market throughout 2022.
The new standard officially introduces support for PCIe 5.0 graphics cards with a new 12-pin 12VHPWR connector that can deliver up to 600W. We’ve seen Nvidia release Founders Edition cards with 12-pin connectors, but they don’t are not identical to an official PCIe 5.0 slot which includes four additional sideband signals. The new connector is expected to debut with Nvidia RTX-40 and AMD RDNA 3 cards.
The fact that the cards can receive up to 600W from a single connector does not bode well for future GPU power requirements. This adds weight to some rather silly power consumption rumors floating around the internet. Some cards may require two connectors!
If nothing else, it will appeal to fans of clean builds. Getting rid of multiple 8-pin power connectors in favor of a single 12-pin connector will certainly make your cable management easier.
These extra signal pins mean it’s unclear if next-gen GPUs can accommodate the full 600W of current power supplies through 8-pin to 12-pin adapters. Three 8-pin connectors will supply 450W plus an additional 75W from the slot for a total of 525W. With that in mind, it’s advisable not to buy a high-end power supply at this time. What is the alternative? A 4 8 pin to 12 pin adapter? It’s a bit exaggerated.
We have already written about the UD1000GM power supply from Gigabyte. It includes a 12-pin connector with the four additional signaling pins, but we note that it only supports ATX 2.31. We can expect clarification on 8-pin to 12-pin support as we get closer to the launch of PCIe 5.0 cards.
In addition to PCIe 5.0 support, there is the new ATX12VO 2.0 specification which introduces other features aimed at providing better reliability. It makes some welcome changes to low-load efficiency, which is a weakness of even today’s most efficient power supplies. The low-load efficiency improvements are designed to help the PC industry meet increasingly stringent government energy regulations. Efficiency greater than 60% is required for 10W or 2% of maximum capacity, while efficiency greater than 70% is recommended.
ATX 3.0 PSUs will introduce a second certification standard by Cybernetics alongside the existing 80 Plus ratings. Cyber certifications aren’t just about efficiency. There is also a noise level certification and related chassis soundproofing certification that will definitely help users who want a quiet build.
MSI has already launched its Creator P100A and MPG Trident AS ATX12VO systems. Both come with an ATX12VO 2.0 compatible power supply.
Given these new changes, buying a high-end power supply doesn’t make sense right now unless you don’t plan on upgrading for a while. If you want to upgrade to a Zen 4 or 13th Gen system with an RTX-40 or RDNA 3 GPU, waiting for now would be a good decision.