Nvidia clarified the situation surrounding its RTX 4000 graphics cards and its demands on the power supply front, following what Team Green described as an “increase in questions” regarding compatibility with next-gen GPUs.
And the short answer for those worried about needing to buy a new power supply for direct compatibility is that they don’t have to – no need to have a new ATX 3.0 model with PCIe 5.0 power connectors (known as 12VHPWR). .
Current ATX 2.0 PSUs (no pun intended) will still work fine with any Nvidia RTX 4000 model, although that being said, the power supply obviously needs to be powerful enough to handle the GPU, just like any graphics card.
All this information is delivered in the form of a new Common questions (opens in new tab)As Tom’s Hardware (opens in new tab) spotted, where Nvidia reminds us that a power adapter ships with high-end Lovelace GPUs to allow ATX 2.0 power supplies to be plugged in.
So, regarding the mentioned wattage recommendations for PSUs – ATX 2.0 and 3.0 – what exactly are they? Well, Nvidia has stipulated that RTX 4090 owners must have a power supply of at least 850W. For the 16GB RTX 4080, the requirement is 750W and is slightly lower for the 700W 12GB RTX 4080 variant.
As Nvidia points out, these high-end GPU power demands aren’t too different from the requests made by current-gen RTX 3000 models, i.e. 750W for the RTX 3090 and 3080 – although obviously the flagship RTX 4090 needs a little more juice. However, it does deliver what promises to be a huge leap in performance in terms of extra power consumption.
As you can see, these PSU requirements aren’t as simple as they seem. Where it gets tricky is that you might need more power depending on the rest of your PC components, and especially the CPU if you have a really beefy processor that has big power requirements of its own. (Intel’s fastest Alder Lake chip, the 12900KS, can pull about 240W max, for example, which might not be there with a high-end Nvidia GPU, but it’s still a lot.)
Overall, this is definitely an area where you want to err on the side of caution, and by the way, it’s worth noting that even PSUs that carry the same power rating can be of different quality. And it goes without saying that you don’t want to use a cheap, unbranded PSU with a high-end Nvidia card, not that any PC enthusiast would dream of doing so. But it’s worth pointing out that you should always stick with trusted brands of PSUs that will deliver the most on the reliability and stability fronts (like the models recommended in our best PSU roundup). Even if you’re paying a little extra, we’ve long argued that the power supply is an often overlooked component that plays a key role in PC operation.
Also, we advise going a little above the recommended power level anyway if possible – it seems sensible to have a little extra headroom, especially when it comes to heavy GPUs. Our general rule of thumb is to put an extra 100W on top of what you think you’ll need, better safe than sorry.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that Nvidia offers further clarification on the issue of a recently leaked email from PCI-SIG (the organization that oversees PCI Express specifications and more) that has people worried that there is a potential risk with ATX 2.0 PSUs using 12VHPWR connectors.
This stemmed from concerns voiced by PCI-SIG in the past at the prototyping stage, but the issue has now been resolved. The Green team noted, “Nvidia confirmed that it was an isolated issue with a prototype connector from a specific vendor, and the vendor has since resolved the issue.”