New PCIe 5.0 GPU power connector could deliver an absurd 600W from a single cable

Details of a new power connector have surfaced online and are apparently related to the rumored RTX 3090 Ti. It’s a rumored GPU that will take on the role of the fastest 30-series GPU when it surfaces in January 2022. We’re also expecting a full super refresh of Nvidia’s entire lineup around this time, from the unless the rumors are to be believed.

An interesting result of these rumors is that they seem to have unearthed a new type of graphics card power connector (via Igor’s Lab). The PCIe 5.0 power connector is designed to solve one of the biggest and most complicated problems in today’s graphics card power supply: providing enough power for high-end cards. Existing 8-pin connectors can supply up to 150W each, which is why the most power-hungry offerings take two or even three connectors.

(Image credit: Minitek)

The new connector (picture above is from Minitek’s website) might not look too different from what we’ve seen before until you spot the four smaller pin connectors on the row of the low. This row, along with the 12 main connectors, means that in total you have 16 pins. However, only the main block is for power, with these smaller pins apparently being signal pathways, although their actual purpose is unclear at this point.

PCI-SIG states that each pin on the main block can support up to 9.2 A, which adds up to 55.2 A for the entire connector, with maximum supported power load of 662.4 W. With the tolerances, we end up with the 600W. It’s a lot.

For reference, Nvidia’s current lineup tops out at 350W for the RTX 3090 and RTX 3080 Ti, with the RTX 3080 having a TDP of 320W. The rumored RTX 3090 Ti, which apparently won’t use the Super suffix, has a TDP of 450W.

(Image credit: future)

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Nvidia introduced a new single 12-pin connector with its Founder Edition 30 series cards last year. Nvidia’s reasoning at the time was that it wanted a smaller connector on the card itself. This required the use of a 2x 8 pin to 12 pin adapter, as no power supply actually has such connectors as standard.

This adapter was designed for some messy builds, so it wasn’t ideal. Expansion board partners haven’t jumped on board this new design either, with most sticking to twin 8-pin connectors instead. So only those who managed to grab the Founder’s Editions got to see Nvidia’s twist on the connector.

This supposed power connector is part of the PCIe standard, which should hopefully mean that it has direct support from PSU manufacturers – no need for long-term adapters. In fact, saying goodbye to the dual, or even triple, 8-pin PCIe power connectors that high-end cards require today in favor of a single cable is reason enough to get excited about this new connector.

Obviously in the short term we will have to use adapters, but any change to a connector standard is going to be plagued by this problem. Still, a bit of short-term pain might be worth it if we end up with a cable that covers all of your graphics card’s power needs.

Alan A. Seibert