How to Choose the Right Power Supply | Finding the Best Power Supply for Your PC’s Need
One of the most important aspects of building your own personal computer is choosing the PSU. There are lots of details to consider when looking for the best power supply, which can make the whole process overly complicated and annoying. This guide will teach you everything you need to know about buying the best power supply for your custom PC. To keep things nice and simple, this guide will have three sections: wattage, quality, and other specifications. With this guide, I hope to help you answer the question, “What power supply should I get?”
When it comes to wattage, choosing a power supply that matches your computer’s needs is crucial. In order to know what power supply is best for your computer, you should first find out how much power your build will consume in total. This is easily accomplished with a power supply calculator. Simply enter what parts you plan on using and the calculator will spit out the number of watts you will need to power those parts.
Many first time PC builders either skip this step or just ignore the calculator’s recommendation by purchasing a power supply with hundreds of extra watts. Not only is this completely overkill, but it will actually make your PC less efficient. Your computer runs most efficiently with about 15-25% more power than the total consumption of the parts. Remember, the more watts that your PSU consumes, the more power it pulls from your wall. This will have an impact on your electricity bill, especially if you leave your computer on for long periods of time.
Keep in mind that it’s okay to buy more watts than you need if you plan on upgrading a part that will require more power in the future. If you don’t plan on upgrading your PC, save your money and buy a more modest power supply. This will allow you to spend a little bit more on the other important parts of your PC.
A PSU’s quality is another important aspect of picking the best power supply for your PC. It is critical that you choose a solid power supply in order to avoid electrical failures. One of the easiest ways to tell if a power supply is of good quality is by checking it’s brand. Most of the top brands produce good quality power supplies that will last for years without any problems. There are many trusted PSU brands, like Corsair, Cooler Master, EVGA, SeaSonic, Antec, and Rosewill just to name a few. Check out the video below to see what can happen if you buy a poor quality power supply.
Brand isn’t the only thing to consider when looking for a good quality power supply. Even some trusted brands produce poor quality power supplies. The 80 Plus standard was created in order to save consumers from the electrical disasters that poor quality PSU’s create. Power supplies with this standard are certified to be at least 80% energy efficient at their max wattage. When buying your power supply, make sure that its advertised with one of these logos.
All 80 Plus PSU’s are easily better than non-certified ones, but higher levels of 80 Plus are more energy efficient. In fact, most levels of 80 Plus are actually more energy efficient than just 80%. You can see each level’s exact efficiency rating on Wikipedia. Higher rated power supplies will cost more, but will slightly reduce your electricity bill by using power more efficiently. When you buy your PSU, make sure that its 80 Plus rated and is produced by a trusted company.
The only specifications that really matter besides wattage and quality are the size and modularity of the PSU. Compared to the importance of the last two sections, you won’t really have to worry about this one. Choosing the size for your power is extremely simple; Get an ATX PSU, it’s that easy. This is by far the most popular size as almost all standard motherboards and cases support ATX power supplies. Although, if you’re building a really tiny PC, you might want to look into a mini-ITX power supply.
Modular power supplies are also something to consider if have the money to spend. These power supplies give you the option to connect only the cables you want to your PC. Non-modular power supplies offer no cable customization. With these PSUs, you’ll need to secure the cables that aren’t plugged in with zip ties. Semi-modular power supplies have some cables that must be plugged in (like the MOBO and CPU cables), but the rest are up to the user. Fully-modular power supplies allow you to pick and choose every cable that you want plug in. Here’s an example of what these PSUs can look like.
Modular power supplies are more expensive, but there are two main reasons why they are popular. First, computers tend to look more appealing without a bunch of unused cables bunched up together somewhere in the case. That of course only applies to PC builders who are going for an appealing look. Second, the fewer cables in the case, the better the air flow will be. Unused cables can also contribute to dust building up in your case, which you don’t want.