The priority of the power supply unit (PSI) is to provide the motherboard with power. This work is usually completed with pin connectors. Older Motherboards contain one or two 4-pin connectors, but this is not the case with modern motherboards.
Without the required number of connector pins, the power supply can become erratic on motherboards, and that could cause several problems. It is essential to understand your PC’s power requirement in case you want to upgrade it. Fortunately, brands offer the correct connector pins for your PC’s motherboard; hence you may not need to change it.
So How Many Pins are in Power Supply Connector?
The power supply connector in a motherboard comes with a 6+2 pin. The most sophisticated motherboard now comes with 20-pin or 24-pin connectors.
What You Should Know About Different Power Supply Cables And Connectors
There are several types of power supply connectors, and you should not go wrong when connecting them with the way they are designed. A wrong cable wouldn’t fit inside a connector slot when you put it in the header.
The following are the different connector types alongside their applications;
1. PC Main and ATX Connector (P1)
This is the main power supply connector that links to the motherboard to supply power. Since the primary job of the power supply is to provide power to the computer’s motherboard. The PC main connector connects to the motherboard via the 20-pin and 24-pin connectors.
The 24-pin connector is backward compatible with the 20-pin connector. It is possible to split this cable into 20-pin and 4-pin options depending on your motherboard power needs.
2. The P4 EPS Connector
There was a time when motherboard pins were inefficient in supplying the CPU with power. With an overclocked CPU drawing as much as 200W, there is a need to provide power directly to the CPU. Today, you can find the P4, also known as EPS connector, which can directly supply power to the CPU. Though the inclusion of the P4 was more expensive than ATX connectors, they are more reliable in the long run.
While the cheap motherboards were fortified with 4-pin connectors, the more expensive, overclocked ones were equipped with 8-pin connectors. With the addition of the extra four pins, more power was supplied to the CPU when overclocking. The 8-pin connectors were only valuable for overclocking, but the 4-pin connectors are enough for regular power use.
Most PSUs do come with two cables, one for the 4-pins and the other for the 8-pins. It is possible to split the 8-pins into two different units because you will need one of the cables at a time. The 8-pin cable also provides backward compatibility with the older and cheaper motherboard.
3. The PCI-E Connector
The motherboard provides power through its PCI-E slot interface. This is also referred to as the 6-pin and the 6+2 pin connector. This type of motherboard can support a power supply rating of up to 75W.
The faster-dedicated graphics card will require more power; hence modern computers will still need more powerful connectors. This is the reason why PCI-E connectors were developed. With the PCI-E connector with the six pins, an additional 75W of power can be supplied. This means that your 6-pin PCI-E connector can draw a whopping 150W.
A graphics card that comes with a 6+2 pin can draw up to 225W, that is 75W from the motherboard and 150W from the cable.
4. The 4-pin Peripheral Connector (Molex)
The Molex connectors have been around for a while, and they are capable of delivering 5V or 12V power to provide power to hardware peripherals. In the past, Molex was used in the connection of hard drives and CD-ROM. Molex was also found as the main power supply for some graphics cards.
Nowadays, Molex connectors are not standard because their capacity to draw power is minimal. Molex has been replaced by PCI-E alongside SATA power cables in many motherboards today. It is almost impossible to go wrong when connecting Molex connectors because of the angular side design.
One of the issues with Molex, aside from limited power draw, is that they can be difficult to detach. If your computer uses Molex connectors for power, you may need to upgrade it to PCI-E.
Other Power Supply Cables And Connectors
In addition to the popular connectors highlighted above, the following are some other standard connectors worth looking at;
1. SATA Connector
SATA connector came after the Molex and rendered it useless. The SATA connector powers most hard disk drives, modem DVD players, and SSDs. Several things make SATA connector unique. SATA power connector comes with an L-shape design that ensures that you can’t disconnect it.
2. The Floppy Connector or Mini Molex
The floppy connector or mini-Molex has become obsolete, but you will still find it in some PSUs today. The floppy connector was commonly used to power floppy drives. The floppy connector was characterized by a square magnetic disk design that can hold up to 1.4MB of data. The USB stick has since replaced the floppy connector.
3. The Adapter: Connecting Molex with SATA
If your computer is dealing with a Molex power supply unit that lacks the required SATA connectors, you should consider using an adapter. This adapter can convert your Molex to SATA power connection and power motherboard or hard disk drive.
4. Molex to PCI-E 6-pin Adapter
This is one adapter you should look out for if you want to upgrade the power supply to your motherboard. It is referred to as the 2x Molex to 1x PCI-E 6-pin adapter. You will have to connect both Molex to different cable strains to reduce the risk of power overloading on your motherboard and other components.
If you don’t use this adapter and different cables for the Molex connectors, your motherboard may only receive 75W power.
5. The ATX Adapter
The introduction of the version 2.0 ATX 12 adapter makes it possible to use a 24-pin connector with the motherboard. With a 24-pin connector, delivering power to the motherboard has never been so easy. The older ATX 12v uses the 20-pin connector. Today, there are 12 versions of the ATX standard, but they all look similar; hence there is no need to bother about compatibility.
For backward compatibility to be made possible, the most modern power supply will allow you to disconnect the last four pins of the main power connector. The use of this adapter will also make it possible to create forward compatibility.
Upgrading Motherboard For Improved Power Supply
In addition to choosing the correct adapter or cable, there are several other ways of upgrading your motherboard.
1. Choose the Right Motherboard
The computer’s manufacturer should have a list of upgrades for your system’s current motherboard. You must check the motherboard’s compatibility with existing components. For instance, you should check for its compatibility with the existing CPU, Intel or AMD.
Make sure you choose the proper power supply compatibility, this could be 20-pin or 24-pin. If you are using an older power supply, perhaps you should upgrade this before changing the motherboard. Check the optical and hard drive compatibility. Your optical and hard drive can be connected either to the IDE or SATA, which are the newer connectors.
Next you should check the computer case compatibility. Most PCs are created for the ATX form factor motherboards.
2. Remove the Older Components from the Motherboard
You may keep the existing operating system, and wipe the boot drive. Open the case and take pictures of the connections, then remove components like RAM, GPU and CPU. Remove screws connecting the motherboard to the case, hard drives, and fans. Remove other necessary things before removing your motherboard.
3. Attach the Upgrade Motherboard
Attach the new motherboard and reattach all previously removed components. Re-attach the rear panel cables before turning on the computer. The computer should boot if you attach all components properly. You may sue the picture taken earlier to re-attach all components.
You should see the new motherboard flash screen, simply enter the BIOS and check the drive and RAM configurations to ensure they have been recognized. You must set the boot device priority and then enable your PCI-E support if the motherboard requires it. The power supply and management to your motherboard should be much better after this upgrade.
Upgrading your motherboard’s power supply is not a procedure you can do at a sitting. Perhaps you should confirm if you really need an upgrade or fix other issues affecting the power supply to the motherboard. Sometimes, erratic power supply to your area may be the issue and not the motherboard. You will need a thorough check from an electrician to handle this situation and tell you the status of your computer. Upgrading your motherboard without doing a thorough check can create new problems entirely.