Building your own gaming pc can be immensely rewarding, but to get the most out of your build you’ll need to select the right power supply unit (PSU). Choosing a PSU is important as it determines voltage, wattage, and amperage that can be delivered from the wall socket to the PC components. In short, the PSU supplies power to the PC and the wrong PSU for your setup can cause inefficient performance and potentially damage your components.
When choosing a PSU, you have to consider the wattage for peak and average power consumption, efficient designs that help reduce heat production and adequate cooling solutions. A common rule of thumb for selecting the best power supply is to allocate at least 50-60% of your total budget on the PSU. For a gaming PC build, you will need to account for power consumption of the CPU, GPU, Motherboard, RAM, cooling solutions, and any other components you may have added to your build.
When it comes to wattage, you should purchase a PSU with more wattage than what you need right now. A unit with more power will more easily handle your setup as you expand or upgrade components in the future. It’s recommended to purchase a PSU with 80 Plus certification as they are rated to an efficiency of 80% or higher at various load levels. This helps save overall energy costs, and reduces heat production which improves the life of your components.
For a typical gaming PC, you need a PSU with a minimum wattage of 500 and it is preferable to choose one rated for continuous wattage rather than peak wattage. Components like the motherboard, RAM, CPU, and cooling solution should add up to no more than 300-400 watts. Add-on components such as additional fans, drives, and lights bring this up to 250-400 watts. A dedicated gaming GPU will add an additional 225-300 watts for a grand total of 600-800 watts for a high-end gaming PC build.
Before you order a PSU, be sure to read reviews and do research on the specific make and model. Quality is important and there are a few companies that specialize in producing reliable, power efficient and quiet gaming PSUs. Read up on whether a unit is compatible with your motherboard and other components to avoid any compatibility issues. When in doubt, reach out to forum members or contact the manufacturer regarding compatibility issues.
When it comes to placement, it’s important to keep your PSU and other components cool and away from direct heat. Make sure to refer to your build’s manual in order to determine how to fit and secure the PSU. Before turning on your system, double check all of your connections to ensure your build is powered safely.
When selecting a PSU form factor, you will see three common form factors: ATX, SFX, and TFX. The most popular form factor for mainstream gaming PCs is the ATX. The ATX form factor or advanced technology extended is the industry standard for PC cases and motherboards. The SFX or small form factor is slightly smaller than an ATX, but with the same depth. It is suitable for smaller cases and works well for low power, low profile systems.
The TFX or thin form factor is a variant of the SFX and is typically only found in low power systems such as Slimline systems, HTPCs and Media PCs. This form factor is shorter, making it ideal for space-saving scenarios. It’s important to double check the form factor of your PSU if your build includes an additional graphics card that needs extra power.
Depending on your specific gaming PC setup, you need to make sure that your PSU has all the necessary connectors. All PSU’s come with a 20+4 pin port for the motherboard connector. If your motherboard operates with an 8-pin CPU power connector, your PSU should have one as well. Other connectors may include the 6+2 pins for GPU, 4-pin molex for storage devices, 4-pin molex for cooling solutions, SATA for SATA storage devices, PCIe for discrete graphics cards and possibly an FDD port for floppy disk drives.
It’s important to make sure your power supply has enough connectors for all the components in your PC. Most gaming PC will require at least one 6-pin and one 8-pin connector, so make sure the PSU you pick has plenty of those. You may also need an additional 4-pin connector if you are using an overclocking-ready motherboard.
Additionally, make sure to check if your PSU is capable of delivering enough wattage and amperage for your entire system. Newly released components generally require more power than usual, so look out for those as well. Some PSUs come with a power calculator that helps recommend the ideal PSU for your setup.
The length of the power supply cables affects the airflow within the PC case and is especially important if your build includes multiple expansion cards. Most PSUs come with Heavy Duty Cables (HDCs) as standard, but be sure to double check whenever you’re making a purchase. HDCs tend to be more rigid, but offer better air flow and are convenient for cable management.
Modular designs add an extra layer of convenience as they allow you to install only the cables you need instead of having to attach numerous cables. It helps reduce clutter and improves the styling of the system. The cables are also labeled to make it easier to determine which cable supplies power to which components.
Cooling plays an important role in determining the reliability of a PSU so look for units with a high quality fan as well as a reliable heatsink design. Additionally, some PSUs have implemented technologies such as Zero RPM fan mode which operate at zero RPM when the system draws low to medium power. This helps reduce fan noise, making your PC more silent and prevents the degradation of components due to overheating.
Conversely, some high-powered PSUs include fanless designs, which are more efficient and reduce overall energy costs. However, some components may require sufficient airflow to stay cool, so double check if fanless designs can handle the heat produced by your system.
When picking a PSU, it’s important to first define your needs and budget in order to make the best decision. Establishing the total wattage draw of your build will help pick the right PSU for the job and you should factor in if you need additional cooling solutions or more cables. After selecting the right PSU for your gaming PC, carefully refer to the manual for installation instructions.
It’s also a good idea to select a PSU with a long warranty as this guarantees that the builder is provided with adequate assistance and protection in the event of a manufacturing defect. Carefully read up on the quality of build and reliability of the PSU and always check the reviews of the product before making a purchase.
Powerful gaming PCs require a lot of wattage and to make the best of this, choose a PSU with an efficient design and adequate cooling solutions. Make sure the PSU you choose is compatible with your motherboard and is capable of delivering enough wattage and amperage for the components. With the right power supply, you can be sure that your gaming PC runs efficiently and reliably.