Building a PC? The power supply is typically the easiest part of the build. You look at the wattage, add up the power for all your parts, and pick a power supply from a popular brand. Done!
The truth is: power supply shipping deserves a little more care than that. Not a lot – but a little. Today, we’re explaining 5 tips you need to know about shopping for power supplies.
5) What You Need to Know About Wattage
Wattage is the first and most important way by which you compare different power supplies. You choose a PSU with enough wattage to power every component in your system, and then a little bit extra for good measure.
If you choose a PSU with too little wattage, it’s going to shut off during moments of high resource usage. If you choose too much wattage, you’re just overspending.
Instead of breaking out your calculator and adding up your power requirements yourself, let someone else do the hard work for you.
I recommend using the Extreme OuterVision Power Supply Calculator, where you can choose your components and see the amount of wattage you need. You can even play with overclocking to see how much power you would require if you’re planning to tinker.
That calculator gives you three important ratings, including load wattage, recommended UPS rating, and recommended PSU wattage:
-Load Wattage: This is the amount of wattage your system needs under a heavy load. You should consider rounding up to the nearest 50W mark for safety (like if your load wattage is 320, round up to 350W).
-Recommended UPS Rating: This is the recommended uninterrupted power supply rating, which is the base amount of power your power supply is capable of delivering.
-Recommended PSU Wattage: The calculator will look at your load wattage and recommend the PSU wattage you should actually buy.
4) Take Energy Efficiency Into Consideration
Electronics obviously don’t operate at 100% efficiency. That’s why you should look for the 80 Plus logo on your power supplies.
These logos indicate that a power supply has been rated for a certain level of efficiency. In this case, at least 80% of the rated power is actually delivered to the system while the remaining 20% is lost to heat.
This is important because your power supply will draw, say, 500W from the wall, but only be able to output 400W of that. 400W is the maximum power delivered into the system, while 500W is the wattage you pay for in your power bills.
Anyways, the 80 Plus specification is a good idea if you care about energy efficiency and your power bills. The 80 Plus system requires a PSU to be at least 80% efficient at all loads 20% and above.
It’s not just about power bills, by the way: poor-quality power supplies will output more heat, which reduces the lifetime of your surrounding hardware and increases the heat of your computer.
There are different levels of the 80 Plus system, including all of the following:
-80 Plus (Least Efficient)
-80 Plus Bronze
-80 Plus Silver
-80 Plus Gold
-80 Plus Platinum
-80 Plus Titanium (Most Efficient)
The lower down the list you go, the more efficient your power supply will be. By the time you hit Titanium, your PSU is at least 90% efficient under all circumstances. You should aim for gold or higher – there aren’t a lot of Titanium-rated PSUs in the world today.
3) Think About Warranties
At this point, you should have a handful of power supplies that all meet the above specifications. So how do you further narrow them down?
To do that, look at warranties. When / if your power supply fails, you want the manufacturer’s warranty to cover the damage.
Most PSUs have 3 or 5 year warranties. However, as PSUs become more reliable, it’s not unreasonable to see 7 or 10 year warranties. In general, you should aim for a warranty of five years or higher.
Obviously, power supply manufacturers won’t give 5 year warranties on power supplies they believe will fail within 3 years: a longer warranty means the company is more confident in its product. It’s as simple as that.
2) Modular Versus Non-Modular
Modern PSUs give you the option of being modular, semi-modular, or traditional. Modular power supplies come with detachable cables, which means you can attach or detach cables as needed around your case.
Traditional power supplies, on the other hand, have fixed power cables going into the power supply. These power cables cannot be removed.
If you’re into cable management and want to make your case look pretty, then modular power supplies are pretty much a necessity. If everything is going to be locked behind a case anyway, then most people are okay with traditional power supplies.
1) Think About Size
Lastly but not leastly, you need to think about size when choosing a PSU. Namely, look at the size of your PC case and consider the type of power supply that can fit in there.
Your Mid-ATX tower, for example, is probably not going to fit a large PSU, nor is your mini-ITX case. Your case manual or product description will tell you which size of power supply you can fit. If you’re unsure, look at the dimensions of your power supply and measure how much room you have in your case. That will help you be doubly sure.
You’re Ready to Shop for PSUs!
Ultimately, power supplies are that part of PC building most people don’t think about. They’re not as fun to comparison shop as graphics cards, and nobody benchmarks their PSUs. Still, without a PSU, nothing else works.