Nvidia to mandate 16-pin PCIe 6.0 power with RTX 50 series “Blackwell” GPUs

The Truth Behind PCIe 6.0 power, and why Nvidia may mandate it on next-gen GPUs

We have seen a lot of scaremongering today regarding Nvidia’s RTX 50 series. Some have reported that Nvidia will be changing a new power connector, leading to a wave of complaints online. Will Nvidia users need to buy a new power supply to support this new PCIe 6.0 power connector? The simple answer is no, here’s why.

This week’s scaremongering reports on Nvidia’s RTX 50 series originate from a video on the topic from Moore’s Law is Dead. Some reporters have misunderstood this video. This has lead them to allege that Nvidia will be adopting a “new 16-pin connector” for their RTX 50 series. This is incorrect. The PCIe 6.0 power connector mentioned in this video is the 12V2x6 power connector, not something entirely new.

The PCIe 6.0 12V-2×6 power connector isn’t new, not really

For the uninitiated, the 12V2x6 connector is an updated version of the 12VHPWR connector that can be seen on most modern power supplies. 12V2x6 is backwards compatible with 12VHPWR. Both can deliver up to 600 watts of power, and both use the same 16-pin connector design, albeit with small changes.

12VHPWR is commonly known as the PCIe 5.0 power connector. With 12V2x6 featuring an updated design, it makes sense that is fits inside the newer PCIe 6.0 PSU specification. While it can be claimed that 12V2x6 is a “new” power connector, it is more accurate to say that it is an updated connector. In fact, most newly manufactured 12VHPWR GPU already use updated 12V2x6 terminals.

12V2x6 uses shorter sensing pins and longer conductor terminals than 12VHPWR. These changes ensure that users need to fully insert their power connectors before power can be delivered to GPUs. This makes 12V2x6 a more reliable power connector for users. Both standards use the same power cables, with 12V2x6 only changing the standard’s female connector. As such, 12VHPWR and 12V2x6 are inter-compatible.

Corsair on 12V-2×6

Corsair has released a blogpost detailing the difference between 12VHPWR and 12V-2×6. In short, 12V2x6 is more reliable, and it is compatible with existing 12VHPWR cables and power supplies. If Nvidia mandate the use of 12V2x6 on their next-gen GPUs, you won’t need to upgrade your PSU.

As with any new standard, things are likely to evolve quickly and we’re now seeing the introduction of a new connector, 12V-2×6. So what’s new with the 12V-2×6 connector? To put it simply: more reliability.

Compared to the original 12VHPWR connector, the new 12V-2×6 connector has slightly (0.1mm) shorter sensing pins while the conductor terminals are 0.15mm longer. This might not sounds like a huge difference, but it matters in ensuring that the power cable has been properly connected to whatever device is going to be pulling power from your system’s power supply.

So what does this mean if you’ve already got hardware for 12VHPWR? Fortunately, existing 12VHPWR cables and adapters will work with the new 12V-2×6 connector as the specification is backwards-compatible. You’ll begin seeing new hardware, such as graphics cards, come out with the 12V-2×6 connector onboard and your current cables will work assuming you’ve installed everything correctly.

Why would Nvidia mandate PCIe 6.0/12V-2×6 for all RTX 50 series GPUs?

Following the release of their RTX 40 series, and the widespread adoption of 12VHPWR by the PSU industry, Nvidia can now call 16-pin (12VHPWR/12V2x6) power delivery an “industry standard”. For Nvidia, a single 600W 16-pin power connector can replace four 150W PCIE 8-pin connectors. This can greatly simplify their GPU designs and lower their material costs. There’s a reason why  you won’t see older 8-pin PCIe power connectors on anything about an RTX 4070 on Nvidia’s RTX 40 series.

With their RTX 50 series, Nvidia are reportedly planning to push their 16-pin power standard across their entire RTX 50 series lineup. This means that even GPUs like the RTX 5060 could utilise a 16-pin power connector, ending Nvidia’s use of 8-pin power cables. This means that users of older power supplies may need to use adapters to power their RTX 50 series GPUs, or upgrade to a newer unit.

We expect 12V2x6 power supplies to become more readily available throughout 2024. Even so, 12VHPWR PSUs will be compatible with Nvidia’s RTX 50 series. After all, 12VHPWR and 12V2x6 are mostly identical.

You can join the discussion on Nvidia potentially mandating PCIe 6.0/12V-2×6 on their RTX 50 series on the OC3D Forums.

Mark Campbell

Mark Campbell

A Northern Irish father, husband, and techie that works to turn tea and coffee into articles when he isn’t painting his extensive minis collection or using things to make other things.

Follow Mark Campbell on Twitter
View more about me and my articles.