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How to Choose A Power Supply: 5 Things to Know Before Buying A PSU

How to Choose A Power Supply: 5 Things to Know Before Buying A PSU

The power supply is one of the most difficult components for first-time builders to choose. Power supplies won’t increase your framerate and aren’t a large element of the aesthetics of your system. Your power source, on the other hand, is the most important component for the long-term health of your system.

Your build will either not run or will suffer over time if you use a low-quality power supply. On the other hand, if you don’t know how much power you’ll need to power your system efficiently, you can end up assigning more of your budget to your power supply than is necessary, sacrificing actual system performance.

In this essay, we’ll go over five major aspects to think about when purchasing a power supply. These five considerations will aid you in selecting the best power supply for your budget and requirements.

Figuring Out the Correct Wattage for Your System

You must first determine how much electricity you will require from your power source in order to run your computer before selecting a power supply.

This can be accomplished in a number of ways:

Find power draw benchmarks for the components in your system (namely your GPU and CPU) on sites like Tom’s Hardware and combine them together to get a minimum wattage rating.

OuterVision’s power supply calculator, in my opinion, is the far easier and faster way to figure out how much power your system will actually use.

outervision

Simply enter your components into the calculator using the drop-down menus given, then hit the calculate button to discover what the recommended PSU wattage for your system is. You can even account for overclocking on both your CPU and graphics card using the ‘Expert’ menu.

OuterVision’s calculator is perhaps the most accurate on the market. Other calculators I’ve used end up recommending wattage ratings that are far higher than you require. However, it’s a good idea to add some headroom to the figure OuterVision gives you as a rule of thumb. So, if it says you require a 450W power supply, a 500-550W power supply isn’t a bad choice.

A High Wattage Rating Doesn’t Equal A Quality Unit

Just because a power supply is labelled as a 600W unit doesn’t guarantee it can offer that much power for an extended period of time.

Many no-name PSU manufacturers list wattage figures for their power supplies that are significantly higher than what they can realistically supply over a given period of time. Some inexperienced PC builders make the mistake of assuming that just because a power supply has a high wattage rating, it is adequate for their needs.

Related: PSU Hierarchy 2021 – Power Supply Unit Tier List

And, because many of these low-quality power supplies are sold at incredibly low costs, some people mistakenly believe they are getting a good deal on a good power supply. However, the reality is that consumers are buying a subpar product with a false wattage rating.

As a result, it’s critical to stay away from unknown power supply suppliers and instead rely on well-known brands. Here’s a quick rundown of companies known for producing high-quality power supplies:

  • Silverstone
  • Thermaltake
  • be Quiet!
  • Bitfenix
  • EVGA
  • Corsair
  • Seasonic
  • Antec
  • Cooler Master

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list, and it’s crucial to remember that not every power supply from the companies listed above is of high quality. So, once you have a wattage rating, it’s critical that you do your homework and find out what quality units are available in your pricing range.

The easiest way to do so is to read expert evaluations or consult our PSU Buyer’s Guide, which includes a selected list of high-quality power supplies.

The Importance of Expert Reviews on Power Supplies

When compared to testing/benchmarking other components, testing a power supply is a bit more involved. Take a peek at JonnyGuru’s and Tom’s Hardware’s testing techniques.

As you can see, they use a lot of additional equipment in their power supply tests. And some of the equipment is quite costly.

Additionally, because evaluating power supplies is more complicated than testing other components, there aren’t as many power supply reviews as there are for other components.

Explaining The 80 Plus Rating System

When choosing a power supply, you’ll also want to think about the various 80 Plus efficiency ratings.

To fully comprehend the 80 Plus rating system, you must first comprehend the operation of a computer power supply.

DC (direct current) power is used to power the components of your computer. The electricity coming from the outlet where your computer is plugged in, on the other hand, is AC (alternating current).

Your power supply is in charge of converting AC electricity from the wall into the DC power required by your components.

There is some power loss to heat during this conversion. As a result, the AC power obtained from the wall is not converted to DC power in its entirety. A good power supply converts at least 80% of the AC power it receives from the wall into DC power.

A decent power source will convert at least 90% of the energy.

The 80 Plus rating method essentially determines how efficient a power supply is in converting AC to DC power. The 80 Plus rating system, on the other hand, assesses a power supply’s efficiency when it is subjected to particular loads.

A power supply must maintain a particular degree of efficiency when it is under 20%, 50%, and 100% load in order to obtain one of the 80 Plus badges.

(The new Titanium 80 Plus rating analyses a power supply’s efficiency when it is less than 10% loaded.)

Here’s a table that breaks down each of the 80 Plus ratings and the efficiency level that must be met to qualify for that particular rating:

It’s crucial to remember that the 80 Plus rating system isn’t ideal, and it doesn’t always mean a power supply is of good quality. As a result, it shouldn’t be regarded as the sole criterion for judging the quality of a power supply.

It is true, however, that power supplies with an 80 Plus rating (Gold, Platinum, or Titanium) are generally well-built and high-quality equipment. However, if you’re looking for a power supply, it’s a good idea to look at the unit’s 80 Plus rating system alongside in-depth reviews.

A Quick Note on Power Supply Aesthetics

Aesthetics are crucial in the component selection process for a big part of people who construct their own computers. Power supplies, on the other hand, are one component where aesthetics normally don’t play a big impact.

Yes, RGB power supplies are available. There are other power supply that appear to be superior to others.

However, in terms of aesthetics, the main thing I look for in a power supply is its cabling/sleeving.

You can spend a lot of time making sure that your other components are color-coordinated, that your cable management is impeccable, and that everything is shown inside a case with a gorgeous full-glass side panel.

multi-colored-cabling

The multi-colored cable will detract from the aesthetics of your build, and your system will not appear as well as it would if your power supply came with all black cabling.

black-cabling

You don’t have to bother about the colour of a unit’s cabling if you don’t care about aesthetics. Also, if you buy a modular device, you can always replace the cabling with custom sleeving.

If you’re on a budget but still want a nice-looking build, know that some of the more basic power supply include all-black wiring that won’t detract from your build.

While aesthetics aren’t a key consideration when purchasing a power supply—especially at the higher end of the market—I believe that cabling is an important factor to consider if you want to design a neat-looking system.

Choosing the Right Power Supply

Power supplies are one of the most crucial components in system builds, even if they aren’t the most glamorous. We’ve covered five factors to think about when selecting a power supply for your construction in this article.

You’ll have a much easier time choosing the correct PSU for your needs if you examine these five variables.


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Edward Connelly
By Edward Connelly

I’m Edward, and I am a passionate tech writer who loves to try new gadgets. I work as the blog editor at TechHamster where I write about everything from how to use technology in your business, to what apps you should download for your next vacation. I also test out all of the latest and gadgets that come along!

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Tech Hamster – Technology News, Reviews, and Buying Guides is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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