PCIe 5.0 GPUs can have 'power excursions', use up to 1800W of power

ATX 3.0 PSUs mixed with next-gen NVIDIA Ada Lovelace and AMD RDNA 3 GPUs can spike to insane 1800W on a 'power excursions'.

@anthony256
Published Fri, Apr 22 2022 5:37 PM CDT

You might want to hold off on any power supply upgrades to your PC for a while, as you'll want to get a new ATX 3.0-capable PSU with the new PCIe Gen 5 12VHPWR connectors that we'll see on NVIDIA and AMD's next-gen GPUs.

PCIe 5.0 GPUs can have 'power excursions', use up to 1800W of power 01 | TweakTown.com
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PCIe 5.0-powered GPUs and new ATX 3.0 PSUs are going to be coughing out some major numbers, with "Power Excursions" of up to 1800W spikes of power. For example, NVIDIA's new flagship GeForce RTX 3090 Ti has a TGP rating of 450W, and could have power spikes of up to 1350W while the next-gen GeForce RTX 4090 is rumored to chew 600W, so a power spike of an insane 1800W is there.

The news is coming directly from Intel's Platform Power Specialist, Stephen Eastman, where during an interview with PCWorld, said: "With the new PCIe 5.0 connector and ATX 3.0, Intel and the PCI SIG address what both euphemistically call "power excursions." You might recognize it by the less sugar coated term "power spike." The PCI SIG has basically outlined the capability of a GPU to exceed the maximum sustained power of the card by 3x. That means a 600 watt card on a PCIe 5.0 12VHPWR connector is allowed to spike to 1,800 watts for 100 micro-seconds".

"To help smooth out those extremely short power excursions, a power supply has to be designed with enough extra capacitors to prevent the system from sagging power and possibly crashing the PC. By Intel's estimates, a 300 watt GPU on a properly designed ATX 3.0 could be supported with a 750 watt power supply with 300 watts for the CPU and another 150 watts for the rest of the hardware in the box".

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"If you were to try to adapt an existing ATX 2.X power supply to run that same 300-watt GPU, you could potentially need a power supply at 1,100 watts to support the GPU, CPU and account for the power excursions, Intel believes. This will likely depend on that older PSU design as well as how often that GPU will make those high power excursions"

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"Many will balk at retiring their power supply and wonder why excursions matter so much. Aren't "power excursions" just GPU makers breaking the rules and exceeding power consumption, after all? We'd agree with that outlook, but to limit those extremely short excursions would mean also limiting GPU performance. It's also clear we've been right at the very limit of power supply capabilities for some time".

"Anecdotal reports of the GeForce RTX 3080 and 3080 Ti crashing systems due to transient voltage spikes have been popping up for some time. While the vast majority of gamers were fine, it would appear certain power supplies or system configurations just couldn't handle the same power excursions. Even worse, add-in board makers would know they were exceeding power for microscopic amounts of time but they really had no idea what the varying designs of power supplies could handle".

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Anthony joined the TweakTown team in 2010 and has since reviewed 100s of graphics cards. Anthony is a long time PC enthusiast with a passion of hate for games built around consoles. FPS gaming since the pre-Quake days, where you were insulted if you used a mouse to aim, he has been addicted to gaming and hardware ever since. Working in IT retail for 10 years gave him great experience with custom-built PCs. His addiction to GPU tech is unwavering.

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