The ATX standard defines the types of connectors required on a power supply. The 8-pin connector installed on some ATX power supplies is not actually an ATX standard, but it is commonly used on some higher-end ATX computers.
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The 8-pin power connector is technically defined under the EPS standard, which is a specification for higher-end computers and entry-level servers. EPS, being a derivative of ATX, is compatible with ATX but is sometimes hard to physically connect to older motherboards. The 8-pin connector is white and has its pins arranged in two rows, four pins per row.
The 8-pin connector is primarily intended to provide additional power for multi-core processors. Many power supply manufacturers build the 8-pin connector so it can be separated into two 4-pin halves, which allows it to be connected to older motherboards that only support the standard 4-pin ATX connector.
The 8-pin connector runs 12 volts and looks very similar to the PCI-E 8-pin connector. The PCI-E connector is defined separately and is not compatible with ATX and EPS connectors. Although it is designed not to fit into an incompatible slot, a user may force the connectors, causing severe damage to the computer's internal hardware.
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