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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 might make you upgrade your PC — here's why

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080, along with its next-generation Ampere-based GeForce stablemates, could be a very power-hungry graphics card. 

That’s because rumors that the new GeForce GPUs will need a 12-pin power connector, and thus a powerful power supply unit (PSU), have pretty much been confirmed by PSU manufacturer Seasonic.

Andreas Schilling from HardwareLuxx tweeted an image of a Seasonic-made connector that shows the presence of a new 12-pin configuration, which will apparently be called the "Nvidia 12-pin PCIe Molex Micro-Fit 3.0 Connector.” Given current-generation GeForce graphics cards use a different form of connection, it’s widely believed that this connector will be for the upcoming new GeForce GPUs expected to be revealed on September 1.  

In Schilling’s article on the new 12-pin connection, he highlighted how the box for the Seasonic connector recommends its use with a PSU rated for 850W or more. Our sister site PC Gamer has a more detailed breakdown of why how all this could shake-up hardware in current gaming PCs. 

To keep things simple, it would appear that if you plan on getting an Ampere-based GeForce card, you might need a new PSU for your PC. 

That being said, the 12-pin connection might only apply to the Founders Edition version of Nvidia’s next-generation graphics cards. Those made by other manufacturers on behalf of Nvidia could find ways to rework the cabling, perhaps by combining existing connection found on current PSUs. But that might not matter if the power needed for a GeForce RTX 3080 exceeds the output of a PSU in gaming machine someone’s looking to upgrade. 

We’re not expecting the GeForce RTX 3080 and GeForce RTX 3090 orRTX 3080 Ti to be cheap graphics cards. And if they require PC gamers to also upgrade their PSU, the initial cost to get a next-generation GeForce GPU could be pretty high.

That could work in favor of AMD Big Navi, a supposed “Nvidia-killer” graphics card AMD is expected to release in the fall. If Big Navi can deliver powerful performance at a cheaper price and not require a new PSU, then it could be a serious rival to Nvidia’s next wave of GeForce graphics cards.