What is ATX12VO? Next-gen power supplies explained
Our computers have changed tremendously over the past 30 years. One thing that hasn’t changed much, however, are the power supplies. Sure, they’re beefier, more powerful and, above all, more power efficient, but they use the same connectors and general form factor as the early ATX power supplies that graced the market when Intel introduced the standard in 1995. However , the times are changing. , and we need something new. This is where the new ATX12VO standard comes in.
What are ATX12VO power supplies and how will they change PC construction once they hit the market?
What is an ATX12VO power supply?
The way ATX power supplies currently work is actually a little more difficult than you might think.
For starters, a power supply takes the AC electricity that comes out of your wall and converts it into nice, familiar DC electricity that your computer can use. All power supplies, regardless of the equipment we are talking about, follow this basic principle. But in the case of ATX power supplies, the electricity actually has to spin a lot.
Different components of an ATX motherboard need to be powered by different voltages. Your CPU and GPU need 12 volt power, mechanical hard drives and USB ports need 5 volt power, and smaller components, like RAM or m.2 SSDs, have need a 3.3 volt power supply. You cannot supply 12 volts to components that need 5 volts or vice versa. An ATX power supply will draw AC power from the wall, but it will have three separate rails for the 12V, 5V, and 3.3V DC power it needs to properly power all of your PC’s components.
It worked for decades, but this complicated conversion process results in a lot of wasted energy. To combat this, power supply manufacturers are focusing on energy efficiency when manufacturing higher quality power supplies, with the 80 Plus certification program serving as a customer indicator of a power supply’s efficiency. .
The natural next step, however, is ATX12VO.
Intel released the ATX12VO standard in 2019, but we’ve yet to see it land on store shelves. The bottom line, however, is that it does not produce any 5V or 3.3V power supply. It is fundamentally different from ATX in that the power supply only outputs 12V. If your PC contains components that need 5V or 3.3V power supply, this conversion will need to be done by the motherboard rather than the power supply.
Since converting to a single DC power output is simple, ATX12VO has noticeable advantages in idle power efficiency, which is becoming increasingly important with the ongoing climate crisis and rising bills energy in many countries.
How is an ATX12VO power supply different?
It turns out YouTube channel Linus Tech Tips put a prototype ATX12VO power supply and compatible motherboard into practice in 2020. And it looks a lot different than what you’re used to seeing in an ATX PC build standard, but also very similar in many ways.
For starters, the large 24-pin motherboard connection is gone. In its place are two different connectors, one 10-pin and the other 6-pin. Things like the normal CPU slot or PCIe slots remain. If you need to plug in a hard drive or something that doesn’t take 12V power, as we mentioned before, the conversion circuitry will be included in the motherboard. As such, you’ll need to run an auxiliary power cable from the motherboard to the device you’re plugging in.
Other than the different cabling, however, it’s pretty similar to what you’re used to seeing on a standard PC. It’s still the same size, fits in the same ATX cases, has the same wall connector, and even the motherboard is the same shape as current boards and looks pretty much like an ATX board aside from the conversion circuitry.
The ATX12VO standard doesn’t try to change what isn’t broken. It’s just a way to make PCs more efficient, and if the standard ever takes over, we’re not in for a total overhaul of how PCs are built. PC builders will only have to get used to a few changes when hooking up your power supply.
When can I get an ATX12VO power supply?
In short, don’t expect it anytime soon, at least for commercial components. ATX12VO is, at least in its first run, intended for pre-built systems. OEM systems from companies like Dell have been using proprietary power supplies for a long time already, and ATX12VO mainly aims to standardize them in the same way as ATX.
That doesn’t mean, however, that a market for ATX12VO power supplies and motherboards won’t arrive in the near or distant future. While the 80 Plus brand does a great job of educating consumers about energy efficiency, and using higher quality components can indeed bring big improvements in energy efficiency, ATX12VO can make this process much more simple and, more importantly, not too expensive. for consumers. After all, an 80+ Titanium power supply (the highest energy efficiency rating) can cost you over $200, with some higher wattage power supplies breaking the $500 barrier. Not ideal.
Nor is it a migration that will happen overnight. After all, current motherboards aren’t compatible with ATX12VO power supplies, and likewise, a motherboard designed to work with one won’t work with your power supply either. Whenever they hit the market, they will need to be introduced slowly so as not to confuse buyers.
ATX12VO PSU transition is coming
The ATX12VO standard was first introduced in 2020, and some media got to play with it during its launch period. Other than that, however, we have nothing in terms of ATX12VO news. In fact, Intel even recently revamped the ATX standard in 2022 with ATX 3.0.
While Intel’s ATX12VO dream isn’t dead, there’s no huge rush to make it a DIY thing, at least for now. PC building is already a learning curve, and adding an entirely different power supply could add an extra degree of unnecessary difficulty.