How Many PCI-E Express Cables Do I Need?

Mehak Sohail | Last Updated On November 22nd, 2021

Fundamentally, the requirement of PCIe cables solely depends on the graphics card you have. Depending on the Graphics card, you may require a 6-pin cable all the way to 3 x 8 pin cables on some typically powerful cards like the NVIDIA RTX 3090.

All the PCIe components need a certain amount of power supply like any other components installed on your motherboard. Usually, the smaller and minor elements on the motherboard get their power from the PCIe slots (compare PCIe 2.0 and 3.0 here). Yet, running a powerful add-in like your Graphics card needs a severe amount of power compared to your average ships like the expansion chip, sound cardsvideo cards, etc.

So, if you are planning to get your components to build a PC, you should calculate the required number of PCIe cables and also check if the CPU you are buying is compatible with your motherboard. These cables do not come with add-ins like graphics cards, but they come packed with your power supplying units. If you want to know what are PCI-E X1 slots used for, we have this article for you.

What are PCIe cables?

The PCIe expansion cards are the cables designed to feed power to the installed graphics card and other large and hungry expansion cards. These cables are designed to connect the graphics card and expansion cards directly with the Power Supply Unit.

However, some graphics cards do not even require these cables, they just need to be placed on the lanes, and it is done.

Types of PCIe Connectors

There are three variants of PCIe connectors, and each of them differs in terms of power supply.

  • 6 pin connector
  • 8 pin connector
  • 12 pin connector

6 pin Connectors

The 6 pin connector is one of the most common power cables that you can find in PCs. These 6 pinned connectors can supply a minimum power of 75 watts and a maximum of 150 watts.

These are primarily used for low to mid-range cards, so if your graphics card has a power requirement anywhere between 75w to 150w, chances are you will likely need one 6 pin cable.

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8 pin Connectors

The 8 pin connector cables are pretty upgraded to the 6 pin cables. These connectors are used for cards that have higher requirements of power.

The 8 pin connector cables can supply a power of 150 watts from the 12V rail on the Power Supply Unit to the Graphics Processing Unit. As the connector has 8 pins, you can efficiently run some intensive cards that draw a lot of power.

Also, these 8 connectors come in two different modes.

  • One variant comes as a single piece 8 pin connector
  • The other comes to a single 6 pin connector module, along with an extra 2 pin connector as an attachment

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12 pin Connectors

These are the connectors that are used by the newer cards. You can see 12 pin connectors by some high-power cards such as NVIDIA’s RTX 3000 series.

However, if you need cables with 12 pin connectors, you will also need an adapter. This is because many Power Supply Units have an output for 12 pin connectors.

These cables are very powerful and can supply power from 500 watts to 600 watts.

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How many PCIe Cables Does Your GPU need?

Just like we have said, the PCIe cables’ requirement depends on the graphics card that you plan to install or you have installed.

Now, you will be shocked to know that some graphics cards do not require a PCIe power supply cable. Yes, graphics cards such as the NVIDIA GT 710 do not need a PCIe cable. Compared to the modern-day graphics processing units, this is a basic-level graphics card that is pretty weak in terms of performance.

But, if we focus on the new arrivals of the graphic cards, some use 3 x 8 pin cables. At the same time, some graphic cards need a single 6 pin PCIe cable.

Now, if you wish to install the NVIDIA RTX 3090 or the AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT, you will need 6 x 8 pin cables.

To determine how many PCIe cables you need is very easy. There are two basic ways that you can use:

  • Look at Power Input Connector physically,
  • Get the information following a specification sheet

Maximum Consumption of the Graphics Processing Unit AND PCIe Cables

The table presented down below shows the variant of cables in correspondence to maximum power consumption.

Most of the standard Graphics Cards use 6 pins or 8 (6 +2) PCIe connectors. To know the requirement, you will have to look around your graphics card. Some cards have their slots mounted at the sides or mainly at the back.

If you find your card graphics card having a requirement of 2 x 6 pins, you can use a 6 pin connector or an 8 pin (6 +2).

A 6 +2 is a single 6 pin connector with an attachment of an extra 2 pin connector.

Now that you have the essentials right, all you have to do is connect the cables with the slots. After connecting the cables, place the graphics card into its lane, and you are ready to have some good graphics.

What Are Pigtail Cable Connectors?

The pigtail PCIe cable is a split cable that connects the power supply with one end and then separates into two equal connectors on the other end.

A pigtail connector looks like this:

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As you can see, the picture above shows an 8 pin pigtail cable. This cable connects its one end to an output connector mounted on the power supply, and then it separates into 2 x 8 pins on the other end.

If you have this cable, or you can use this cable to connect a graphics card with a 2 x 8 pin connector or two graphics cards that have a single 8 pin connector.

However, there are many heated debates regarding the pigtail PCIe connector cables. Many PC enthusiasts and gamers believe that pigtail cables should be used for powering the graphics cards.

And there are many who have proven that using separate PCIe cables is the way that people should follow when it comes to powering the Graphics Processing Units. In the end, the call is yours to make.

Conclusion

So, now that you have read our article on PCIe cables, what do you think? How many PCIe cables do you need?

Like we have said, the PCIe cable requirement entirely depends on your graphics card. Now, if you have a modern-day GPU with a power requirement of 75 watts to 150 watts, you would need 2 x 6 pins, or if you have basic graphics cards, chances are you do not need cables at all. And you have to know your cards and supply units.

We have also shared a table that will show you the maximum power consumption of the graphics card. Also, we have stated two essential points to find out how many PCIe cables and what type of cables you would need to connect your GPU.

Now that you are done with PCIe cables, how bout SATA cables and ports? We have here an article on how many SATA cables you need and how you can add more SATA ports to your motherboard.

I hope this article was resourceful to you. Good luck!

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