Power supplies aren’t the most flashy computer component, but they’ve been quietly getting better over the years without users needing to pay much attention. When you next buy a new motherboard, you may have to upgrade your old PSU, so here’s everything you need to know.
What Is ATX 3.0?
ATX 3.0 is a specification for computer power supply units (PSUs) introduced as an updated version of the original ATX specification. It provides guidelines for the design and functionality of PSUs, including their size, shape, and power connectors they use.
ATX 3.0 PSUs are designed to be more efficient and provide more stable power to computer components than older ATX specifications. Some key features of ATX 3.0 PSUs include using a 24-pin main power connector, a new 16-pin 12VHPWR power connector, and improved energy efficiency ratings.
What Is ATX12VO?
ATX12VO (ATX 12V Only) is a variation of the ATX 3.0 specification. Unlike traditional ATX 3.0 PSUs with a 24-pin main power connector, ATX12VO PSUs have a 10-pin main power connector and are incompatible with older ATX motherboards.
ATX12VO PSUs only provide 12V power, so any components that need voltages, such as 3.3V or 5V can’t run directly from the PSU. Instead, the motherboard has the hardware to step down the voltage for components such as RAM, SSDs, or USB devices that need lower voltages. This allows the ATX12VO PSU to be much simpler in design. Which hopefully translates into better efficiency, lower costs, and more durability.
Key Features and Benefits of ATX 3.0 & ATX12VO PSUs
Both ATX 3.0 and ATX12VO PSUs have improved efficiency ratings compared to older ATX specifications. This means that they can convert more of the incoming AC power into DC power, which can be used by the system, and produce less heat as a result.
ATX 3.0 and ATX12VO PSUs are designed to provide stable and reliable power to the system. ATX12VO PSUs, in particular, have a single +12V rail which can improve overall power delivery to the system.
ATX 3.0 PSUs are designed to support high-power components, such as multi-GPU setups, and have multiple +12V rails to distribute power to the system. They can also handle large GPU power spikes, an area of concern in recent GPUs.
ATX 3.0 and ATX12VO PSUs are designed to be smaller and lighter than older ATX specifications, making them easier to install and more suitable for small form-factor systems.
Compatibility Considerations for ATX 3.0 & ATX12VO PSUs
ATX 3.0 PSUs are compatible with any motherboard that supports the ATX specification, including older ATX motherboards. ATX12VO PSUs, on the other hand, are not compatible with older ATX motherboards due to their use of a 10-pin main power connector. ATX12VO PSUs are only compatible with motherboards that specifically support the ATX12VO specification.
ATX 3.0 and ATX12VO PSUs are compatible with components supporting the ATX specification, such as graphics cards and storage drives. However, ATX12VO PSUs may not be suitable for systems with high-power components, such as multi-GPU setups, due to their use of a single +12V rail.
ATX 3.0 and ATX12VO PSUs use standard power connectors commonly found on ATX motherboards and other components. That is apart from the more compact 10-pin motherboard power connector.
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ATX 3.0 also introduces the 16-pin PCIe 5.0 12VHPWR connector, capable of delivering 600W of power to next-generation GPUs. This is the same connector in the news for melting on 40-series NVIDIA cards, but this has been with converter cables rather than native ATX 3.0 PSU cables. We expect that quality ATX 3.0 PSUs will have connectors with commensurate quality and safety.
Should You Upgrade Your PSU?
There’s no overriding pressure to run out and get one of these new PSUs immediately. However, if you have the opportunity to get an ATX 3.0 power supply as part of a new PC build and it’s within your budget, it’s a good way to ensure that future components that are more power-hungry will work. There are also numerous improvements in ATX 3.0 across the board that should make everything power-related in your PC more stable, and you’ll get a slightly lower power bill compared to older ATX standards.
With ATX12VO, it’s really a case of what sort of system you want to build. These power supplies are compact since they rely on DC-to-DC converters on the motherboard to provide other voltages. This is going to make them a great choice for Small Form-Factor (SFF) computers, but you’ll have to specifically buy an ATX12VO motherboard.
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