How Next-Gen GPUs Could Pull More Than 600W Directly From The Motherboard
Building PCs is pretty easy, but it's not without its challenges. Many enthusiasts will tell you that the most tedious part of putting a PC together is one of the last: hooking up the power supply cables. By necessity, power connectors are kind of large and unwieldy, and they can not only be a pain to route, but also occasionally difficult to actually get fully-seated. That's important, lest you end up with a smoking cable.
We've seen attempts to rectify these issues in the past, usually by moving the connectors around to an easier-to-access location. What if you just removed the connectors entirely, though? That's what ASUS has been working on with its "GC-HPWR" connector, which we first saw back in May.
The idea is that, instead of plugging a bunch of bulky wire bundles into your graphics card, totally trashing the aesthetics of your build, you instead slot a second connector on the card into a small slot toward the front of the board that then supplies the power. This connector concept is called "GC-HPWR", and ASUS already has working prototype graphics cards and motherboards using it.
Well, we know a little more about the proposal now thanks to sometimes-leaker 188号, better known as @momomo_us on Xwitter. They shared a number of pages from what appear to be a specification document for the GC-HPWR connector. In essence, there are two parts to the connector: one that serves primarily for the graphics card to communicate to the motherboard its status and how much power it needs, and then another part that actually supplies the power.
That might sound familiar if you're acquainted with the 12VHPWR GPU connector typically used on NVIDIA's high-end graphics cards. That connector has twelve pins for power, and a separate four pins for communicating with the power supply. Indeed, the GC-HPWR connector is basically just the 12VHPWR plug adapted into a standard HPCE form factor.
HPCE stands for "High Power Card Edge", and it's a design that has seen long use in servers and supercomputers for delivering lots of power through, you guessed it, a card edge connector. Some sites have reported this term as the name of the connector, but that's incorrect; that's just the type of the connector.
Note that you still have to connect a 12VHPWR connector to the motherboard. Indeed, while this connector removes the need for running bulky wire bundles to the outside edge of your graphics card, it doesn't completely remove the need for such cables. After all, the GPU has to get its power from somewhere. On the original concept that the company showed back in May, that motherboard had all of the extra power connectors on the back of the board—convenient, for making a clean build, but certainly not great for your average computer case.
ASUS will apparently be selling a small supply of graphics cards and motherboards sporting this configuration, likely as a pair, but we haven't seen any mention of pricing or release dates for those. Likewise, we also haven't seen any other vendors talking about similar configurations. What do you think of the GC-HPWR connector? Is it something you'd use, or would you rather stick with ol' reliable 8-pin power connectors? Let us know in the comments.