Skip to main content

Cable-free GPUs are real, and they’re the future of ultra-clean PCs

An Asus GeForce RTX 4070 Megalodon graphics card seen from the rear on a table.

Asus gave us a glimpse into the future at Computex 2023 with its concept graphics card that is essentially cable-free. Instead of having any traditional 8-pin or 16-pin power connectors, the company showcased an RTX 4070 with a proprietary interface that draws power directly from the motherboard.

Reports now suggest that the company is pretty serious about the concept and is set to introduce products with the new interface later this year. According to WCCFTech, Asus has confirmed that it is working on mass-producing the “cable-free” GPU at Bilibili World 2023 exhibition in Shanghai. 

Basically, the additional PCIe-like interface slots right into a compatible motherboard and has the power connectors at the rear. So while there are power cables involved, they do not feed directly into the GPU. What this means is that you still have to deal with the cable mess (since it is now at the back), but at least you don’t have to fret about melting 12VHPWR connectors

Get your weekly teardown of the tech behind PC gaming
Check your inbox!

One of the biggest things to consider here is that the cable-free GPU also needs a motherboard that supports this method of power delivery. Asus had also demoed a compatible Z790 TUF Gaming motherboard featuring all power connectors at the back. Notably, the proprietary connector on the motherboard for the GPU power delivery was labeled as “GC_HPWR”. While that name is temporary, it is crucial that Asus brings at least a handful of such motherboards if it is hoping to gain any success. It is also expected that these new GPUs and motherboards will be priced slightly higher compared to the existing ones. 

An Asus TUF Gaming Z790 BTF motherboard with hidden connectors, shown from the rear.

Having power connectors at the rear of the motherboard is not a new concept. If you remember, Gigabyte announced a refresh of Project Stealth in January that’s aimed at streamlining the process of cable management and improving airflow inside a PC case. The kit included a Z690 motherboard with connectors on the back, as well as an Nvidia RTX 3070 graphics card and a cabinet with the front panel featuring a mesh design. It is an ingenious way to keep (most) cables hidden away from sight, thus creating a system that is much cleaner and way more optimized for efficient airflow. 

All of this sounds pretty interesting, and while I am all-in for clutter-free cable management, I already have certain scenarios in my head that can be potential issues. When it comes to Asus’ concept, not only are the power connectors for the GPU being moved to the back, but they are also supplying up to 600 watts of power through the motherboard via the new interface. That doesn’t sound very pleasant, at least to me. One could easily fry their entire motherboard due to a loose connection or a faulty PSU.  

This takes me to the next problem at hand. Not all PC cases have the provision to accommodate motherboards with power connectors at the back, and I am not even talking about the m-ATX and mini-ITX categories. Even if your existing case does somehow offer the space, one has to be extra careful as you could bend or break these connectors with all the extra cabling that is usually stuffed at the back. 

It is too early to say whether these concepts will be foolproof or not, but they are definitely intriguing and could be the next step of evolution in PC building. 

Editors' Recommendations

Kunal Khullar
Kunal is a Computing writer contributing content around PC hardware, laptops, monitors, and more for Digital Trends. Having…
The Vision Pro 2 may already be dead
Apple Vision Pro

According to reports from The Information, Apple is working on a cheaper non-Pro version of the Vision Pro headset -- and hitting pause on the development of the next high-end model. These rumors come from people involved with the supply chain and manufacturing of the Vision Pro, who claim that Apple has told at least one supplier that it's stopping work on the next Vision Pro.

Just like any other Apple product with "Pro" in its name, the Vision Pro was always meant to be part of a lineup of multiple models, so it's not too much of a surprise that a cheaper model is in the works. What is surprising, however, is that there may not be a second generation of the Vision Pro released alongside it -- at least not anytime soon.

Read more
Whatever you do, don’t click this error if you see it pop up
A hacker typing on an Apple MacBook laptop, which shows code on its screen.

Hackers have devised a new, deceptive method to trick users into installing a malware named ClickFix, according to cybersecurity firm Proofpoint. The scheme involves enticing users with fake solutions to common errors in popular services such as Chrome, OneDrive, and Microsoft. Once users download and execute these "fixes" by clicking the Copy fix button, they unwittingly run a PowerShell or a Windows Run dialogue command that compromises their systems.

This dialogue installs a "root certificate" to flush the DNS cache, remove the clipboard content, show a fake message, and install an additional remote PowerShell script that does an anti-VM check before the info-stealer is installed. Various hacker groups, including those responsible for ClearFake, allegedly use this method. Proofpoint details how hackers exploit jeopardized sites by incorporating a malicious script handed over by Binance's Smart Chain contract on the blockchain to spread malware and infect susceptible Windows computers.

Read more
Samsung claims the next era of DRAM will be a ‘breakthrough’
A Samsung HBM3 memory chip.

Samsung is readying up some pretty groundbreaking tech: stacking memory on a CPU or a GPU to potentially drastically improve performance. Switching to this technique may affect performance, power efficiency, and capacity. Unfortunately, many of us will never directly experience the benefits of this, as Samsung is going to use its high-bandwidth memory (HBM), meaning we won't find it even in the best graphics cards available.

The tech in question involves a new 3D packaging method that belongs to Samsung's Advanced Interconnect Technology (SAINT) platform, with this latest iteration being dubbed SAINT-D. Each variant involves a different 3D stacking technology, with SAINT-S stacking the SRAM die on top of the logic die; SAINT-L stacking logic; and finally, SAINT-D stacking HBM memory on top of logic chips, meaning either CPUs or GPUs.

Read more