This is all prototype hardware for now, but Asus has shown off an Nvidia RTX 4070 graphics card running without the need for any power cables. Instead, the card uses a custom slot on the motherboard to gain access to up to 600W of power.
Of course, that means you'll not only need custom graphics card supporting the new power delivery interface, but also a special motherboard. It's unclear whether Asus intends this to be a new industry-wide standard or remain something proprietary to its own products.
If this new tech is Asus-only, that obviously limits its appeal. After all, you'd be locked into Asus motherboards and graphics cards. But Asus says that motherboards supporting the new power delivery solution remain compatible with conventional graphics cards, which helps.
More to the point, getting rid of cable clutter might still be enough of a draw to make it worthwhile for some PC builders, especially those aiming for the last word in clean minimalism. And a slot-based power solution should also be more reliable than clunky cables, which have recently become weak points leading to hardware failures including melting power connectors.
Asus's hardware solution involves a secondary slot on the motherboard that looks similar in size and shape to a 1x PCIe connection. The graphics card part of the solution sticks out separate from and aft of the the main 16x PCIe connector on the PCB. It's currently known as "GC-HPWR" but Asus says it will come up with something pithier when the products hit the market.
Our understanding of the tech is that the new connector actually acts as a passthrough for a 16-pin connection. That means you'll still have those cables running from you PSU, it's just they'll hook up to connectors on the rear of the motherboard, which then pass power through to the GPU.
If correct, that may seem like the new connector is just shunting the cable problem to a different spot rather than removing it. But there are still clear advantages.
First, you won't have cables sticking out of the GPU. Second, the cables will be "fit and forget". Seat them properly once and you can then swap out GPUs without having to touch the cables.
Of course, you'll still have to seat the graphics card correctly. But plugging power cables into graphics cards has always seemed like a kludge and a slot-based solution for GPU power definitely seems like an improvement.
Asus says that motherboards and graphics card with the new power delivery solution will attract a slight price premium, but hasn't said exactly when they'll go on sale. Anyway, it looks pretty appealing to us, so here's hoping it catches on.