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The big picture: Asus is pushing its Back-to-the-Future (BTF) concept at CES with the introduction of new graphics cards that do away with auxiliary power connectors. Asus' BTF initiative is designed specifically for DIY enthusiasts seeking the cleanest possible PC build. Components in the line including motherboards, graphics cards, and cases are all designed to hide unsightly connectors and cables.
For example, on BTF motherboards, all of the connectors are mounted on the back of the board – out of sight, out of mind. A case designed specifically for this type of build is best so you don't have to cut out the motherboard tray and worry about cable clearance, and now Asus has a couple of new GPU options to top it off.
The ROG Strix GeForce RTx 4090 BTF Edition and the TUF Gaming GeForce RTX 4070 Ti Super BTF White Edition forego the 16-pin external power connector for a new high-power connector that plugs directly into compatible motherboards.
Proprietary connectors are far from ideal, but I like Asus' thinking here. I don't think anyone would be too torn up about removing 12VHPWR from the equation at this point considering all the headaches it has introduced as of late, and having fewer cables to contend with will no doubt improve airflow and lead to a cleaner looking install. It sort of makes you wonder why this hasn't been done sooner – why not just feed the GPU everything it needs from the motherboard directly? It's a more physically secure connection, it could help reduce card sag, and looks cleaner overall.
Of course, none of this will matter all that much if aesthetics aren't important to you or Asus' proprietary system never gets off the ground. The only way this is going to have a meaningful impact on the community is if multiple manufacturers can agree on a universal standard that everyone can adopt. Everyone doing their own system isn't going to work, either. Everyone needs to be on the same page.