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Powering Up Your Rig - GeForce RTX 30 Series

9 Sep 2020

With the launch event for the new RTX 30 Series Ampere graphics cards, NVIDIA showed off a fancy new 12-pin power connector, designed to deliver more power in a smaller footprint compared to the traditional 8-pin and 6-pin power connectors commonly found on current generation graphics cards and power supplies. With the announcement of this new connector also came a heap of confusion. Does this mean that I need a brand-new power supply to go with my new graphics card? Will my current power supply work at all with an RTX 30 series card?

The 12-pin Power Connector

The Founders Edition RTX 30 series cards that NVIDIA showcased during the launch event are essentially NVIDIA’s in-house custom designs for the RTX 3090, 3080 and 3070. A video from the NVIDIA GeForce channel ‘The Remarkable Art & Science of Modern Graphics Card Design’, explores the new power connector and what its purpose is on these next gen cards. With the massive gains in performance that Ampere architecture cards bring to the table came an increase in power draw. In order to keep the Founders Edition cards as compact as possible while also increasing the power delivery design, the smaller 12-pin vertical connector was created. In the same video a graphic is shown of the connector which states that the 12-pin is compatible with PCIe 8-pin cables using an included adapter.

From what we have seen from NVIDIA and their board partners, the only cards that use the 12-pin connector are the Founders Edition Cards from NVIDIA themselves, and these cards will include an adapter so that existing power supplies can be used to power the new Founders Edition cards. So far we haven’t seen any indication that board partners such as ASUS, Gigabyte or MSI will use this new connector, which means that they will probably be sticking to the industry standard 8-pin or 6-pin cables.

How Much Power Do I Need?

There’s no denying that the RTX 30 series cards are more power hungry than the current 20 series cards. Here’s what NVIDIA recommends in your system to juice up your shiny new Ampere graphics card:

SPECSRTX 3090 Founders EditionRTX 3080 Founders EditionRTX 3070 Founders Edition
Graphics Card Power(W)350320220
Recommended PSU(W)750750650

Compared to the RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition, the RTX 3090 Founders Edition has about a 35% higher power draw at 350W compared to 260W. What does all this mean? In short:

  • If you have a quality 750W power supply in your current system or better, then you should be set for a drop-in graphics card replacement without changing your power supply.
  • If you have a quality 650-700W power supply in your current system or better, then you should be able to upgrade to a RTX 3070 FE card, but you may want to consider upgrading your power supply as well if you are looking to upgrade to the 3080 or 3090.
  • If you are running a power supply with wattage rated below 650W, a power supply upgrade alongside your graphics card upgrade is recommended.


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