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Intel Alder Lake could usher in more power efficient PC power supplies

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Intel's shaking things up with Alder Lake (opens in new tab), its new CPUs reportedly on track to launch later this year. Not only is the architecture set to mix high and low-power cores with the latest memory standards, but it will also reportedly see an influx of Intel ATX12VO power supplies.

According to a document sent to Videocardz (opens in new tab), and claimed to be from Intel, Intel hopes to sway manufacturers over to its new, more efficient PSU standard by the time Alder Lake CPUs launch. In order to do so, it would need to give manufacturers roughly four to five months lead time, and so it's pushing OEMs to begin work by the end of this month.

That would suggest a September–October launch for Alder Lake. November also remains a possibility.

Last year Intel released the ATX12VO desktop power supply design guide (opens in new tab), a list of specifications, rules, guidelines, and more for its new PSU standard. It effectively set out to introduce a new, more efficient power supply at low load, which is where today's PSUs, while mighty efficient at mid to high load, don't quite perform as well when power demand drops below 10%. That makes these PSUs more hungry than they should be when your PC is idle.

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The new PSUs would deliver just a single rail of 12V juice for greater efficiency, leaving the remaining power rails (for storage and some peripherals) to the motherboard. That requires a rethink and redesign for not only PSU manufacturers, but motherboard makers too.

For that reason, ATX12VO PSUs are not expected to immediately replace the multi-rail PSUs of today's PCs. At least not in the short term. If anything, the ATX12VO standard will show up in pre-built, power-savvy machines first. If you are building a new gaming PC, you'll want one of the best PSUs for PC gaming (opens in new tab), and you're in luck because we just gave that guide a fresh 2021 overhaul. 

But that's not to say they couldn't be turned on our gaming PCs one day. Anything to make these machines less power-hungry sounds good to me.

Jacob Ridley
Jacob Ridley

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog from his hometown in Wales in 2017. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things as hardware writer at PCGamesN, where he would later win command of the kit cupboard as hardware editor. Nowadays, as senior hardware editor at PC Gamer, he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industry. When he's not writing about GPUs and CPUs, however, you'll find him trying to get as far away from the modern world as possible by wild camping.