PSU Connector Rant

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Jun 19, 2005
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main24index.jpg


These connectors have got to go. It's 2019. There has to be a better way.

I spent the last few days troubleshooting some PSU issues which involved swapping different PSUs back and forth between systems. Which meant a lot of plugging and unplugging of the above types of cables.

My fingers were absolutely demolished at the end of it all. We're talking blisters, redness, pain, the works.

The amount of force necessary to plug and unplug some of these cables (especially the 24 pin) is unreal. Especially when you are working in a cramped system and can't get any leverage. But what's worse is the fact that these things have no comfortable areas to grip. Everything is a sharp right angle which digs right into your fingers. And having to push on that stupid tab to remove it makes it so much harder. Why do these things even need tabs considering how tightly they fit?

These connectors and the wiring mess that comes along with them are the worst thing about building a PC.

/endrant
 

Rifter0876

Weaksauce
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I think they should do a few things.

1. Combine the grounds to a larger diameter wire, half that is grounds, could all be replaced by a single 10-14ga ground saving tons of space, turns the 24 pin into like a 15 pin.
2. Separate the ground, from the signal, from the power, and turn that huge 24 pin connector into 3.
 

tedych

Limp Gawd
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I absolutely second this rant! Some plugs and motherboards combine for easy plugging and unplugging but most are so stiff that I do much more than a simple rant when I'm alone with those plugs at home!
I think they just need some sort of ZIF socket or mechanism. I understand how important are the connections in this connection but there can be a way. I'm ready to pay $2-3 more for a motherboard with such socket.
 

ZeqOBpf6

Gawd
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827
Agree, f these things. I hate that I have to use as much force to yank on one of these as I do to get the lugnuts off my car after the idiot mechanic used an airgun to torque them to infinite NM
 

Master_shake_

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Dell-8Pin-Adapter.jpg


dell really had a great idea shrinking that thing down.

do we even need 3.3 volts on motherboards anymore?

pci is dead.
 

extide

2[H]4U
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Yeah honestly, all you need is a few wires for +12v, a few for ground and the ATX trigger wire, it could be simplified a lot. Any other rails (5v,3.3, etc) can be locally generated on the mobo. The whole spec should move to 12v only from the PSU.
 

tedych

Limp Gawd
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I guess motherboards would have to be abe to support up to 75W for every PCI-e slot? If we have 6 slots plus whatever needs power on the mobo, plus USB ports etc...., it could explain why we might still need 4-5 12V wires (and corresponding grounds) and powering some hungry 5V USBs etc could have been hard to yet implement on the mobo.. Just thinking.
Hell, they made 1300-2000 pins drawing up to 200-250 watts on the CPU side..., they could have made it to the power connector - one lever and that's it, they can use 100 wires if they want :p .
 

extide

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Yeah of course you would want several wires for the +12v and GND rails, but we should get rid of all the other rails entirely, and the spots on the connector for them. You could do like 5 wires each, plus the ATX trigger line and have a spare port with a 12pin 2x6 connector. Much smaller than the 20/24 pin beast we have now. I'd also vote to move away from having anything but 12v on the peripheral connectors too, simplify the entire PSU design so all it needs to make is 12v, no 3.3v, no 5v at all. Of course that will probably never happen because of legacy devices, but it is realistic to change the ATX connector at some point.
 

tedych

Limp Gawd
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Yeah, now I checked, there are only two 12V wires but four 3.3V and five 5V pins, one -12V and 8 grounds. The 5V wires are so many because of the higher currents when using lower voltages. One PWR_OK, one PS_ON.
If they are to use only 12V from the PSU I guess five 12V (plus five grounds and the two other signals) would suffice to form 12 pins total. But still I think it would be much cheaper to use a ZIF socket of some sort than to invest in redoing the whole mobo layout and put new elements to "build" all the necessary voltages in-place rather than in the PSU.
Looking this from another angle, every VRM and vlotage reduction module generates heat and loses energy. Maybe it's still better to do this centrally in the PSU where you already have the necessary airflow rather than form more voltages on the mobo and generate more heat you need to take care of.
But I guess at least the -12 and 3.3V could be get away with.
 

extide

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I wonder how much stuff on a mobo actually uses 5v or 3.3v directly these days anyways. My guess would be very little, because any reasonably modern digital stuff is going to be running at way below 3.3v, probably 2.5v max and most in the 1.Xv range, so they would already be using local voltage regulators anyways. I guess some flash on M.2 runs at 3.3v .. Hrmm. Not sure of typical current requirements though, definitely not a ton. I wonder if anyone in the industry is even considering doing something like this.
 

cyclone3d

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I wonder how much stuff on a mobo actually uses 5v or 3.3v directly these days anyways. My guess would be very little, because any reasonably modern digital stuff is going to be running at way below 3.3v, probably 2.5v max and most in the 1.Xv range, so they would already be using local voltage regulators anyways. I guess some flash on M.2 runs at 3.3v .. Hrmm. Not sure of typical current requirements though, definitely not a ton. I wonder if anyone in the industry is even considering doing something like this.

As seen above, Dell has already done away with the regular ATX power connector on most if not all of their newer systems.

the only really bad thing about it is, is that you can no longer use a good video card. The motherboard simply cannot supply enough juice. I have personally seen that with a few different models, including a Precision Workstation with a Seasonic 680W 80+ Gold power supply.
 

Master_shake_

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the real issue is having that transition period where psu's and motherboards all have different connectors unless PSU makers are willing to have 2 modular motherboard connectors.

As seen above, Dell has already done away with the regular ATX power connector on most if not all of their newer systems.

the only really bad thing about it is, is that you can no longer use a good video card. The motherboard simply cannot supply enough juice. I have personally seen that with a few different models, including a Precision Workstation with a Seasonic 680W 80+ Gold power supply.

the motherboard is still getting it's 2 12 volt lines from the PSU though.
 

bigdogchris

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I would agree that motherboard connectors like the front panel header and power connectors are well overdue for an update.
 

GotNoRice

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My fingers were absolutely demolished at the end of it all. We're talking blisters, redness, pain, the works.

Why not use something like needle-nose pliers?

Personally I really like the ATX power connector. Not due to it's ease of use (or lack thereof) but due to it's compatibility over the years, which in the computer world is probably second only to the USB Type-A connector. I like being able to take a 10-15+ year old PSU and if it still works fine, still being able to use it with no modifications because it's still compatible. I don't really like having a new connector every few years on things that are otherwise completely compatible just because someone thinks it's "better", that's apple's job.
 

MMitch

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Let's use wireless charging method...

Back to topic, ATX cables have been great AND backward compatible (I mean I can still use a good 7 years PSU into a new PC without worrying about compatibility, now reliability is another thing).
I guess they could make a quick connect adapter you could put between the PSU and the mobo to ease some people issues.
 

tedych

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Over the years reliability of new hardware with old PSUs was a problem, most notably it's the cheaper models with older topologies that imply a given pattern of power draw between the different power lines. I wouldn't expect (nor do I have a problem with that) a 10 or 15y/old PSU to be compatible with 0.5 y/old hardware. PSUs are easily replaceable component (with no need to reinstall or reconfigure anything) and more or less their lifespan is way less than 10 years in most cases today.
EVEN if a new standard emerges in the ATX connector area, it would be very very easily worked around with just an (cheap) adapter. So there are no excuses. Advancements and changes in most other areas in computing are constant and we are all (relatively) Ok with that :) . I wouldn't, for example, rant if I can't directly connect today my SATA device to a 12 years old Fortron, because back then there weren't SATA power connectors. Or my old IDE DVD drive to my new mobo.
It's just new technology and these things don't change all that often. One change in the ATX connector once in 20-30 years... we'll survive that :) .
 

M76

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First world problem of the month. Oh sorry, last month.

If it ain't broke don't fix it. I'd hate to have to buy adapters for the next 5 years. Either because I'm using a new psu with an older MB, or an older MB with a new PSU.
 

Ocellaris

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First world problem of the month. Oh sorry, last month.

If it ain't broke don't fix it. I'd hate to have to buy adapters for the next 5 years. Either because I'm using a new psu with an older MB, or an older MB with a new PSU.

Simple solution would be motherboards using the new connector just include an ATX -> New adapter in the box for a few years.

Then if you use an old power supply you already have the adapter, and if you use a new power supply you just don’t need the adapter.

If you use a new power supply with an old system, well that sucks.
 

MMitch

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Simple solution would be motherboards using the new connector just include an ATX -> New adapter in the box for a few years.

Then if you use an old power supply you already have the adapter, and if you use a new power supply you just don’t need the adapter.

If you use a new power supply with an old system, well that sucks.

You know how that works, they design a new standard which includes weird voltages like +18V just in case... As mentioned above, don't fix it if it ain't broken.
Additional adapters means it may add resistances, it will add cost and means extra point of failure.

I would stand behind swap able cables (modular) that supports each standards.
 

tedych

Limp Gawd
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Swapable cables are yet another point of potential failure ;) . I don't like modular PUSs and wouldn't buy one for as long as I can. I almost always use most of PSUs cables and at most one or two could be left hanging around which I easily fit somewhere tight not blocking any airflow (for example top side above any ODD where there is no airflow). But I would prefer a new ATX connector myself and would live with an adapter.
On the other hand, most of you who stand behind not changing anything (err, ATX connector), are surely gonna swap their PSUs as soon as they buy their next $400 mobo :) .
Also, depending on how they would solve todays problems with the connector, they might end up with some sort of backward-compatible one and even an adapter wouldn't be necessary... who knows. One is for sure - the 24-pin ATX connector is a real PITA to work with in 90% of the cases.

And yes, it might not be the world's most engaging problem, but what's wrong to talk about... small problems are also problems, and we may talk as long as we want (and do it) about global warming... but the connector deserves a small topic on its own :) .
 

M76

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Simple solution would be motherboards using the new connector just include an ATX -> New adapter in the box for a few years.

Then if you use an old power supply you already have the adapter, and if you use a new power supply you just don’t need the adapter.

If you use a new power supply with an old system, well that sucks.
Like they supplied 20-24 pin connectors back in the day? Oh wait, none of them did that.
 

tedych

Limp Gawd
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Like they supplied 20-24 pin connectors back in the day? Oh wait, none of them did that.
Noone really complained about that, moreover most mobos work fine with only 20 pins connected. It's basic PC-building knowledge to combine parts so that the machine works fine. When you combine such parts (actually only 3-4 years worth period until almost everything migrate to the new standard) you will find one or two necessary adapters which you will use for 2-3-4 years. Not a big deal. It's the same with molex-sata adapters, they work fine in 99.99% of the cases unless you happen to buy some utter crap or you connect NNN devices to it pushing it beyond its limits.
For the sake of safe and easy (un)installation of PSUs for the next 30 years, I'd rather take that "discomfort" of having to eventually use and adapter for a year or two. Moreover it's time to think about angle 90 degree power connector!
 

AtomClock

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Tung in Cheek.. They should just make the motherboard and CPU run on 120 Volt AC. Then we only need a 2 wire connector.
 

tedych

Limp Gawd
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Tung in Cheek.. They should just make the motherboard and CPU run on 120 Volt AC. Then we only need a 2 wire connector.
Most of the world uses ~230V :) . We still need a 'transformer'. What we need for 2 wires is back to old AT standard with no "soft" power-on/off and just one 12V thick line. But the mobo layouts maybe couldn't change so much and we still need the CPU EPS connector probably. Which I think they can work around too - use the main plug and run a thick wire (maybe externally along the mobo surface somehow) to the VRMs.
 

cyclone3d

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A quick word of advice for any peripheral manufacturer :

Stop

Using

MOLEX.

What uses molex anymore? Only recent thing I have seen are specific specialty slot adapters from China.. and molex is really the only way to go for those unless you want to use one of your PCIe power cables... and those cards are available with those as well so I am not sure what the big deal is.
 

KazeoHin

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What uses molex anymore? Only recent thing I have seen are specific specialty slot adapters from China.. and molex is really the only way to go for those unless you want to use one of your PCIe power cables... and those cards are available with those as well so I am not sure what the big deal is.

Cases still use Molex to power peripheral features like lights, fan hubs, etc. It's really annoying.
 

cyclone3d

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Cases still use Molex to power peripheral features like lights, fan hubs, etc. It's really annoying.

Meh... guess I haven't used a newer case like that. molex to SATA power adapters work well if you don't want to use molex cables... but for higher power stuff you still want molex as the SATA power connector can't handle as much power.
 
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