What is ATX 3.0? The new standard explained

PSUs don't take the sporlight but this is an important change

ATX 3.0 - hero

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With ever-upgrading graphics cards and processors, computers, as we know them nowadays, will need more technical improvements. One of the parts that seems somewhat forgotten about is the PSU (power supply unit) – and ATX 3.0

ATX 3.0 is the new specification standard for PSUs. Intel has released this new ATX 3.0 design guide as a way to help drive smarter power performance. Or, in the words of manufacturer MSI on its own blog, to “provide more reliability, and better power efficiency and provide graphics cards up to 600 watts of power.”

Intel’s move

According to Intel’s research, the new era of graphics cards will require more power from the PSU. And although new technology like AMD’s RDNA 3 is being created with energy efficiency in mind, the current PSU system won’t cope with the high power excursions – as they call the energy spikes of the new graphic cards technology.

Put it this way, if you’re looking to buy a new RTX 4000 series or similar graphics card, you should seriously consider whether you need to upgrade your PSU. Particularly for the RTX 4090.

Are all PSUs ATX?

Not every PSU is built following the ATX design guide. However, the big majority of motherboards follow the ATX standard of configuration.

The PSU is a part of the computer that hasn’t been touched, in terms of ATX standards, since 2003.

And that’s important to note. until now, upgrades in graphics cards and chip processors haven’t required major power increases from the power supply unit, so no one really thought about it until Intel put its finger on it.

What will change with ATX 3.0?

Current PSUs have a 6 or 8-pin connection. The new ATX 3.0 adds a PCIe 5.0 12VHPWR connector featuring 12 + 4 pins to supply up to 600W.

This is an incredible change. According to PCI-SIG the RTX 3090 has shown a power spike of 533W, while the always-hungry RTX 3090 Ti has shown power excursion above 650W, we may expect the new RTX 40 series to go above and even beyond those numbers if the benchmarks of its performance are to be believed. 

PC Guide Expert View

Overall, if you’re looking to upgrade your PC with the newest components and specifically graphics cards, you will need a hefty ATX power supply unit if you want to keep your thousands-of-dollars investment safe and cool.

Nvidia recommends a minimum of 850W for any PSU if you’re going for an RTX 4000 card. But it may be best to verge on the side of caution and go 1000W or more – particularly considering additional power-hungry components.