NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 40 series graphics cards will be making use of a brand new PCIe Gen 5 power adapter to supplement their high power needs. While only modern PSUs that are compliant with the new ATX 3.0 standard can offer a direct single-pin routing, users that own an older PSU will need to use an adapter featuring as many as four 8-pin connectors leading into a single Gen 5 cable.
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 40 Graphics Cards Will Need A New PCIe Gen 5 Cable After 30 Connect & Disconnect Cycles
Update: We have confirmed with NVIDIA that the 30-cycle spec for the 16-pin connector is the same as it has been for the past 20+ years. The same 30-cycle spec exists for the standard PCIe/ATX 8-pin connector (aka mini-fit Molex). The same connector is used by AMD and all other GPU vendors too so all of those cards also share a 30-cycle life. So in short, nothing has changed for the RTX 40 GPU series.
The new information comes from ZOTAC who has listed over their site the service life of a single PCIe Gen 5 adapter cable. According to the manufacturer, the company has suggested that the PCIe gen 5 adapter that comprises 4x 8-Pin to 1x 16-Pin connector be replaced after 30 connects and disconnects. This means that the user can, at maximum, connect and disconnect the cable for just 30 times before its "Limited" service life would end.
The next-gen NVIDIA GeForce RTX 40 series graphics cards including the RTX 4090 and TX 4080 will be bundled with such cables however, each package will include just one cable so enthusiasts who like to unplug their hardware a lot and try new stuff will have to be careful because you will need new cables every time you run out of the 30 life cycles period.
The PCIe Gen 5 cable can provide up to 600W of power however as NVIDIA has stated, the fourth 8-pin is entirely optional and can be used to provide more overclocking headroom. The GPUs can be set to 3 GHz+ clock speeds with overclocking as the company has officially confirmed.
"Each GeForce RTX 40 Series Founders Edition graphics card reduces cable clutter by leveraging the new standard GPU power input of next-gen ATX 3.0 power supplies, the PCIe Gen-5 16-pin Connector. This enables you to power GeForce RTX 40 Series graphics cards with just a single cable, improving the aesthetics of your build. If you are using a previous-gen power supply, an adapter cable is included in the box, allowing you to plug in three 8-pin power connectors, with an optional fourth connector for more overclocking headroom. ATX 3.0 power supplies will be available in October from ASUS, Cooler Master, FSP, Gigabyte, iBuyPower, MSI, Silverstone, and ThermalTake, with more models to come."
The issue regarding the lower life cycles stems from the fact that the PCIe Gen 5 (12VHPWR) cable is extremely fragile to bends and with thermal variances being somewhat of a concern as hinted by PCI-SIG, prolonged use beyond the advertised life cycles may damage the cables permanently.
PCI-SIG Internal Investigation of The Issue (Image Credits: GamersNexus):
This needs to be verified once the launch of card but for new owners or those who plug their GPU inside the PC once and never take it back out again, this shouldn't be a huge concern. Certain PSU companies are also making their cables with higher quality components but there's no way to tell just how good or bad a 12VHPWR cable is without removing the sleeves.