What is ATX 3.0?
PCs are getting more powerful every year, and more capable of providing lighting fast speed and performance for even the most intensive tasks, such as 4k 60fps gaming and ray tracing technologies. With these technological advances, however, PCs are also becoming more power hungry.
In accordance with the power demands of the latest GPUs, Intel announced the ATX 3.0 PSU specifications in 2022. These new specifications were designed to ensure that even the most powerful GPUs will safely and efficiently receive all the power they need. So, what exactly is ATX 3.0? How do you know if you need an ATX 3.0-compatible PSU?
Before we get into the details of the latest specifications, it is helpful to briefly touch on the previous specifications. ATX 2.0 was introduced about twenty years ago and has received several updates since, with the most recent being ATX 2.53 in May 2020. Prior to ATX 3.0, all PSUs relied on 6- or 8-pin connectors that were rated for 75W and 150W, respectively. For many years this was enough power but recent advances in GPU technology have necessitated changes.
What did ATX 3.0 change?
By far the biggest and most important change was the 12VHPWR connector that features 12 pins instead of 6 or 8 pins as mentioned above. The PCIe 5.0 connector allows for PSUs to now supply, depending on the model, up to 600W while maintaining superb efficiency and reliability. The 12VHPWR connector can also provide lower wattages of 450W and 300W and was designed specifically to work optimally with Nvidia’s 40 series GPUs. Cooler Master’s own 12VHPWR cable options come in two variants with unique improvements. There is the original 12VHPWR connector which features a novel 90-degree angle for enhanced cable management. Then there is the 12VHPWR Adapter Cable, featuring three 8-pin connectors which each support 200W, a safety improvement over the standard two 8-pin connectors usually included with such an adapter.
The ATX 3.0 specifications also ensured protection against power excursions. If, for example, your build has a newer Nvidia RTX GPU, it may experience power spikes of up to 1800W. GPUs can briefly draw up to three times their rated power, sometimes totaling up to 1800W.
An ATX 3.0 PSU was built to safely withstand such spikes to ensure long-term system stability by allowing regulated, short spikes that exceed peak power by up to 200%. In other words, an ATX 3.0 PSU can briefly output twice its usual power.
How to know if you need an ATX 3.0 PSU
In general, an ATX 3.0 PSU is better for anyone who regularly uses their PC for high-power tasks such as streaming, gaming, creative work such as video editing or rendering, and software development. More specifically, an ATX 3.0 is a necessity if you plan on using an Nvidia 40 series GPU. Not all PSUs currently on the market are ATX 3.0 compatible, as the specification is not necessary for more casual builds, so you will need to ensure that the PSU you are considering is in fact compatible with the latest specifications. If you are looking for an ATX 3.0-compatible PSU, check out Cooler Master’s own selection here. Additionally, if you would like to figure out exactly how much wattage you will need for your GPU and overall build, try out our PSU calculator. Below, we have included a list of recommended PSUs that fit various builds and needs:
Mid-High Tier ATX
To sum up, the ATX 3.0 PSU specification is designed to account for the higher power requirements of the newest GPUs, such as the Nvidia 40 series. With the new PCIe 5.0 12VHPWR connector and power excursion protection, an ATX 3.0 PSU is built to efficiently support the strongest GPUs performing even the most intensive tasks.