Let’s be honest – there’s nothing fancy about power supplies.
Perhaps that’s one concrete reason why the majority of PC builders, particularly newbies and novice builders who are still getting the hang of PC DIYs, tend to take this component for granted and instead settle for cheaper knock-offs and sub-standard alternatives without assessing its downsides.
In defense of the power supply, this integral part of the computer carries the most important role: powering up your entire rig… literally! That’s why it’s important to consider prioritizing this component alongside GPUs, motherboards, hard drives, and cooling systems.
Here’s a rundown on what to take into account when buying your PSU for your future build.
Be Brand-Conscious when it comes to your power supply unit
Sure, unbranded PSUs come at a ridiculously low price compared to branded ones. The trade-off for this is the risk of potentially blowing up your rig without the security of warranty and after-sales service – which in turn will cost you more on replacements and repair.
Reputable brands, on the other hand, can be a tad more expensive. But you’ll get the sense of assurance that your power supply will work within an extended period of time, alongside troubleshooting assistance. Here are a few well-known brands to look out for:
- Cooler Master
- TUF GAMING
- be quiet
Connectors and Pins
If wires are the literal veins of your computer, the connectors and pins are the nerves that link power to the system. Without these, your power supply, along with the entire rig, will be useless. When choosing the power supply, it’s essential to check the connectors that come with it to ensure compatibility with your other parts and components. These are the common ones:
- 24-pin for connecting motherboards, chipset, and PCIe
- 4-pin Molex for older HDDs, water cooling pumps, optical drives, and fans
- 4/8-pin for CPU
- 6/8-pin for GPU
- SATA connector for powering up SATA devices
Know the Wattage
Each innard of your computer runs on various wattage requisites, with each component add up to the total watts you actually need for your machine to run. To give you an accurate computation of your computer’s actual power requirements, you can utilize this online PSU calculator.
As a rule of thumb, it’s better to give ample headroom to make sure your power supply can accommodate your computer even at full capacity. On the contrary, it’s also not wise to over-compensate by getting a PSU with higher watts than what you actually need. For example, if your computer consumes about 450W at full capacity, a 600w PSU would be a good fit.
Understanding the 80 PLUS Power Efficiency Rating
Along with wattage requirements comes the so-called 80 PLUS Power Efficiency Rating. This gives you an idea of the overall performance of your power supply in terms of drawing AC power from your outlet and convert it into usable DC power under a certain load. Getting an 80 PLUS rating means your PSU can convert 100% of AC power from a source into a usable 80% DC power that your computer runs on, and the remaining 20% gets lost in the heat. The rating goes as follows:
|80 PLUS Power
Efficiency Rating Level
115V Internal Non-Redundant
230V Internal Non-Redundant
|80 PLUS BRONZE||82%||85%||82%||85%||88%||85%|
|80 PLUS SILVER||85%||88%||85%||87%||90%||87%|
|80 PLUS GOLD||87%||90%||97%||90%||92%||89%|
|80 PLUS PLATINUM||90%||92%||89%||92%||94%||90%|
|80 PLUS TITANIUM||90%||92%||94%||90%||90%||94%||96%||94%|
Power Surge + Over-Current Protection
Next thing to consider is to check if your PSU of choice has a reliable built-in preventive measure such as Over-Voltage Protection (OVP). This feature triggers an automatic shutdown whenever the PSU detects high voltage output. Some PSUs have an integrated surge protector and/or short circuit protection – both of which provide an extra shield to your components in case of a power surge or fluctuation occurrences.
Size and Dimension
PSUs nowadays come in an array of sizes. Many beginner PC builders tend to make this rookie mistake of buying a PSU without taking the chassis’ size and dimension into consideration – a minor lapse that often leads to an unexpected conundrum.
In addition, most PSUs of today correlate with the motherboard size. Among the standard and most common PSU terms that you may encounter are AT, ATX, mATX. For small form factor rigs, there’s the SFX and the TFX among others.
Hard-Wired vs. Modular Cabling
Most high-end PSUs now utilize the convenience of modular cabling. This allows builders to customize cable management within the system to allow more efficient airflow and neat aesthetics. On the other hand, hard-wired cables mean the PSU is already pre-soldered and pre-installed cables onto the unit. From this end, builders may have to manually re-route the cables around the chassis themselves.
With this guide, it goes to show that choosing the right power supply for your build is more something to ponder on. Make sure to weigh your options and cover all bases when picking up the right PSU fit for your next build!