Computer enthusiasts and high-end component designers have long been faced with a difficult problem: As much fun as some people have turning both the exterior and interior of their PCs into well-designed works of art, computer components are not generally designed or laid out for visual impact. GPUs face downwards, with their face and shrouds mostly hidden. Thermaltake wants to change that by giving you more room to showcase components — and it’s built a PCI Express cable extender to do it.
The new cable will be available in three lengths — 300mm, 600mm, and 1000mm (that’s 11.8, 23.6, and a whopping 39 inches). As the image shows, the kit doesn’t come with any kind of additional mounting hardware — wherever and however you want to hook up the card and stabilize it in your build, that’s going to be up to you.
The riser uses individually sheathed ribbons to ensure clean signaling. The company has also published a series of tests it claims shows how its product compares to other risers under similar test conditions. Obviously this should be taken with a grain of salt since the results have not been verified, but there’s no intrinsic reason that a well-crafted cable can’t propagate a signal that far. The upcoming PCI Express 4.0 standard is a different story. PCI-Expres 4.0 has been delayed partly because boosting performance to the required level and distance of 20 inches requires signal repeaters on the motherboard already.
Thermaltake has some other performance data showing no significant difference between using a standard PCI-Express slot or their own solution. To use a cable like this in the first place, you’ll need a case that’s designed to allow you to mount your GPU in a nonstandard configuration, or you’ll need to find a way to anchor it to the case itself. Shoving your GTX 1080 or upcoming AMD Vega into a random drive bay is both a bad idea and exceptionally hard on the card itself.
Price, meanwhile, will likely be another concern. The 300mm cable is $ 69.99, and that doesn’t include the motherboard tray or other components you’ll need to make use of it. 600mm cables cost $ 84.99, while the 1000mm cable is $ 109.99. That’s $ 5.82, $ 3.60, and $ 2.70 per inch respectively, which makes the 1,000mm cable the most cost-effective purchase (for a certain value of “cost-effective,” at any rate). It’s a niche product, but then again, so is PC modding. We’d wager somebody out there will find this kind of capability useful.