A tweet from @fpsojisan_yt reveals that Palit is allegedly cutting the physical size of its PCIe connector in half for its RTX 4060 graphics cards. This change makes some sense as the RTX 4060 is only wired to use eight lanes of PCIe connectivity. At the same time, while the RTX 4060 ranks among the best graphics cards, it’s mostly by virtue of being the least expensive Ada Lovelace architecture GPU from Nvidia.
All the RTX 4060 cards we’re aware of have so far come with an x16 physical PCIe connector, even though the AD107 GPU (and AD106 on the RTX 4060 Ti) only uses eight lanes of connectivity. The remaining eight lanes are not electrically connected and are there more for stability. These cards from Palit are the first time we’ve seen an RTX 4060 with a cut down PCIe connector, and in fact it’s a rare bird of a graphics card that has anything other than an x16 physical connector — even the RX 6500 XT and RX 6400, which only use four electrical lanes, usually have x16 connectors.
The neutered PCIe x8 interface is generally used to reduce manufacturing costs and reduce the physical size of the actual chip. External interfaces generally don’t scale at all with newer process nodes, so dropping from 16 to eight or even four lanes can save on die size. This can be useful on lower-end GPUs like the 4060, since most graphics cards don’t really take full advantage of an x16 interface, especially at Gen 4 speeds.
物理的に×8なってるやん pic.twitter.com/FAIedoLyLxJuly 13, 2023
The thing is, while changing the physical connector to an x8 connector might make the cards more flexible in that they can now fit in x8 motherboard slots, in practice there are almost no consumer motherboards that provide x8 slots. Even when a slot only has four or eight lanes of connectivity, nearly all motherboards still opt to provide a physical x16 slot. There are more workstation and server boards with x8 slots, but those likely wouldn’t be using RTX 4060 cards in the first place.
In (very) rare cases, the x8 connector of these cards could be beneficial for users installing the RTX 4060 as a secondary graphics card inside their machine. There may also be some older PCs that only had an x8 physical slot… maybe. But even Micro-ATX and often mini-ITX motherboards still provide at least one physical x16 slot.
For consumer use, the shorter x8 connector could compromise stability as well. Not that the RTX 4060 needs the massive coolers that we’ve seen on GPUs like the RTX 4090 and 4080, but the cards are still long enough that providing an x16 connection would provide more support near the end of the card. So, over time, these Palit cards might be slightly more prone to sag.
The benefits of an x8 connector are very niche for most consumers and gamers. Nearly all modern desktop motherboards feature full-sized x16 slots, with the primary slot linked directly to the CPU to improve latency and speed. Putting an RTX 4060 into any slot not connected directly to the CPU could reduce performance, and PCIe 3.0 or even 2.0 slots on older PCs would likewise impact performance. But if you happen to have a system that only has a PCIe x8 slot (let us know in the comments what board you’re using!), Palit’s RTX 4060 cards might be useful.
Even though most users will never benefit from a physical 8-lane connector, Palit’s unique design will give niche users a rare opportunity to install the RTX 4060 in an x8 slot should they need it.