The computer power supply is one of the most critical components of a computer. Without it, nothing else works. If you’re purchasing a ready-made PC, you’re unlikely to need a new power supply. For those who are building a machine from scratch or want to upgrade, it’s important to understand all the PC power supply options so you can choose one that gives you the power you need to make full use of your computer.
The Right Wattage
Wattage, or the amount of power the PC power supply can deliver, is typically the most important consideration. The wattage you need depends on the components in your computer and how much power they require to run. Online wattage calculators are a good place to find that information. If your wattage is too low, your computer won’t run. Conversely, an overly high wattage could see you spend money on power you don’t need.
Most in the industry recommend that the components in your PC use 50 to 60 percent of the power supply’s capability. This allows headroom if you want to add additional components, such as a second graphics card, at a later stage.
Modular or Non-Modular
The next decision is how you want cables to be attached to the power supply. Non-modular power supplies have the cables wired in, while fully modular systems allow you to completely control the cables, only plugging in those you need. A semi-modular system has some cables wired in, usually for the CPU and motherboard, while the rest can be plugged in.
Each system has pros and cons. Modular power supplies allow for better cable management. You can have fewer cables in your computer, giving better airflow and lower temperatures, so your PC is less likely to overheat. Good cable management also looks better and allows for more efficient organization within the casing.
Non-modular computer power supplies are smaller, so you’re less likely to need a bigger casing to accommodate the size. They’re also the more affordable option. Semi-modular systems give you the best of both worlds. They’re generally small enough to fit in standard casings but still provide plenty of cable management.
Look for Efficiency in Your Computer Power Supply
Energy efficiency is an important factor in most electronics as it helps you to lower your carbon footprint while also saving money on electricity bills. Power supply units convert the AC of the electricity supply to the DC power computer components need to run. Some wattage is lost in the conversion. The less wattage lost, the more efficient the system is.
Efficiency in power supplies is rated using the 80 Plus system. Systems with an 80 Plus badge must maintain certain efficiency levels, based on the colour of badge they have. Although they may have a greater initial cost, systems with the 80 Plus logo can help you save money in the long run.
Other Features to Look For
Take the time to research quality systems that fit your budget. Brands names, including EVGA and Corsair, are known to produce good systems that give consistent power over a long period of time. Make sure the system has the right pin connector for the components you’re putting in your PC to ensure it connects to everything. It’s also important to consider the physical size of the computer power supply, especially if you’ve already bought the casing, so that you can fit in all the required components.