Selecting the right power supply (PSU) can be a difficult decision when building a gaming PC. It may be tempting to opt for the most power-rich model, but it’s important to consider the other factors such as connectors, noise levels, brand reputation and efficiency. In this article we’ll explore each factor to help you make an informed choice.
The most common connector types are SATA, Molex and PCIe. SATA connectors are used to supply power to drives while PCIe connectors supply power to the graphics card. Molex connectors are often used to supply power to other parts of a gaming PC such as fans, LEDs and other devices. It is important to check your components have the correct connector type.
When selecting a PSU, it is also important to note the number of connectors of each type. The power demands of a gaming PC can easily exceed what a single connector can supply, so having additional connectors can help ensure you have enough power.
Power is also not the only consideration. The length of the cables should also be taken into account. Longer cables can be useful for routing through a PC case and into hard to reach spaces. This can help improve the overall look of a gaming PC.
Noise can be a major distraction while gaming. Fortunately, most modern power supplies have mechanisms that reduce the noise level. Some power supplies are even specially designed with noise reduction technology. It is important to check the noise rating before purchasing a power supply.
It is also worth noting that some power supplies are equipped with fan control capabilities, allowing users to adjust the speed of the fan, thus tinkering with the overall noise levels. This can be useful for overclockers, as more aggressive fans may be less audible but generate significantly more heat.
Brand Reputation and Quality
The reputation and quality of a brand are key considerations when buying a power supply. Power supplies can be manufactured by companies such as Corsair, EVGA, Cooler Master, and Seasonic. These brands have built up years of trust by making quality products.
Furthermore, these companies all provide warranties with their products, allowing customers to have peace of mind knowing that if there are any issues with the power supply, they can take action. Therefore, it is important to learn about the company and customer reviews about the power supply.
Efficiency and Power Rating
Finally, it’s important to consider the power rating and efficiency when picking a PSU. The power rating denotes the maximum amount of power the PSU can supply to the components. Efficiency relates to how much of the power from the mains is actually converted into usable power for your components.
Power supplies with higher efficiency ratings use less energy and generally produce less heat. This can help limit the internal temperature of the PC, allowing it to run components at maximum performance for longer. Therefore, selecting a PSU with the highest efficiency rating where possible can be beneficial.
Power Supply Calculator
To work out exactly how much power your components will require, it’s best to use a power supply calculator. These calculators take into account the power demands of all your components, then add up each demand to calculate the total power requirement.
This can be used to inform you of the ideal power rating for your needs. It is important to ensure you have enough power but also don’t buy an overkill since larger power supplies come with their own disadvantages such as higher noise levels and heat output.
Compatibility with Cases
Before selecting a PSU, check the size and shape of the unit as it needs to fit within the PC’s case. ATX power supplies are the most common, but there are other form factors that may fit better in certain cases such as SFX PSU’s or TFX PSU’s.
It is also important to check the compatibility of the power supply with the motherboard. Some motherboard models require specific power connectors, so it’s important to make sure the PSU has the right connector to fit the motherboard. Moreover, it’s also worth noting that there are some power supplies with modular cables that allow users to customize the cable length and type.
Power Cords and Surge Protection
It is important to check the capabilities of the power cord attached to the PSU. It should be suitable for the region in which it will be used. 118V power cords are mainly used in North America, while 230V cords are used in most other parts of the world.
It is also recommended to consider surge protection as it can protect the components from voltage spikes that can occur when plugged into the mains. This can help reduce the cost of repairs in the long run.
When selecting components for a gaming PC, it can be tempting to pick the most expensive components available. However, there is often a diminishing returns effect above a certain price point. This is particularly true when it comes to selecting a PSU, as more expensive models can often provide only marginal benefits over less expensive models.
For example, higher-end power supplies may provide convenience features such as digital displays and remote control. But these additional features may not be necessary for most gamers, so it’s important to consider whether these features are necessary for you.
Air Flow and Heat Dissipation
It is also important to consider the air flow in the PC case. Good air flow ensures components stay cool and it also helps reduce noise. Ideally, the PSU should be positioned at the top or back of the case to allow air to circulate more freely.
It is also important to consider the overall cooling solution of the PC. Many power supplies come with their own cooling fans but if your PC is using an external water cooling system, it may be worth investing in a fanless power supply.
Finally, it’s important to consider how your choice of PSU will impact the environment. The power draw of a power supply has a direct effect on how much energy is consumed and wasted. Thankfully, most power supplies have an efficiency rating, allowing consumers to compare their energy efficiency.
It is also worth considering the impact of disposal. Some power supplies contain hazardous materials, such as lead, and may require special disposal procedures. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s website for disposal instructions before selecting a PSU.