Which computer power supply to buy? Will the Model X fit? Such questions, unfortunately, most often appear only after choosing a processor, graphics card, housing or even media. The power supply is difficult to classify as an extremely attractive component, both in terms of its external appearance and pure functionality. For laymen, it may therefore seem like an addition to simply fulfill its task. However, this does not change the fact that it is an extremely important and often underestimated piece of the puzzle. Meanwhile, choosing a poor unit can be fraught with consequences, which can manifest itself in instability, limited overclocking options, and ending with burning components …
Author: Sebastian Oktaba
Let’s be completely honest – when assembling an average computer, you don’t have to spend exorbitant money on the absolute best power supply in its category. Paying extra for models with 80 Plus Platinum or Titanium certificates is not always economically justified. For most, a solid construction belonging to the middle segment is enough, although it would be good to estimate what you actually need first. If the configuration will draw a maximum of 200-300W, then a three times more powerful PSU can be honestly let go. Especially if you were to become the owner of suspicious 750W instead of decent 500W. However, you should absolutely avoid manufacturers and units that raise doubts, among which in one breath you can mention: Akyga, Codegen, Deer, Gembird, iBox, Logic, Qoltec, Rebeltec, Ultron. Of course, also reputable companies have bad series (e.g. some explosive ones Gigabyte), as well as real raisins (Krux) to smaller suppliers. That is why this guide was created to facilitate orientation in the maze of models available on store shelves. Let the force be with you 🙂
A computer power supply may not be the most sexy component, nor does it affect performance or appearance. Despite this, he is a kind of gray eminence on whom more depends than many might suspect.
Many buyers indicate the power expressed in Watts (W) as the most important criterion when choosing a power supply, which is important, but says relatively little about the actual capabilities of the unit. For modern computers, the performance of the 12 V line is crucial, responsible for feeding the basic components, while the other lines (3.3 V and 5 V) play a secondary role. For example – the Akyga 600 W power supply provides only 360 W here, while the theoretically weaker SilentiumPC Vero L3 500 W provides 492 W. Modern designs can distribute up to 100% of the rated power on the 12 V line, so if you see significant deviations from the above diagram, it should light up red lamp. Numbers generally do not tell everything, because in the case of a power supply, the final quality is ensured by, among others, converters, type of electronics used (capacitors), fan or certified efficiency.
- Power – the power supply should be selected with an appropriate reserve, ideally if the load in typical scenarios would be 50% of the rated power. Then we get the highest efficiency. It’s also worth knowing that most units above 70% load begin to be audible. The efficiency of the 12 V line is crucial, responsible for powering the processor, motherboard and graphics card, regardless of the number of rails (single / multi rails)
- Construction – now you can find power supplies with group, independent or DC-DC converter regulation. The last variant is the best, because it provides the smallest voltage fluctuations. Therefore, all power supplies in this list use DC-DC converters. It should be emphasized, however, that the use of such a topology is only a component and the manufacturer’s components or platform are also very important
- Efficiency – that is, energy efficiency, certified by a certificate specifying the percentage of energy taken from the socket and transferred to the computer. A higher value means greater efficiency, which translates into less energy loss, less heat generation and generally better working culture. There are six levels of 80 Plus certification measured at 20/50/100% load. You can check the exact criteria that power supplies must meet to receive a specific certificate HERE
- Wiring – power supplies can be found in hard-wired, semi- and fully modular versions. It is also worth paying attention to the quality of the wiring (braided, flat), wire cross-section (AWG) and, above all, the number of specific plugs. The availability of PCI-E and EPS, i.e. additional power supply to the motherboard, is very important
- Security – the power supply is a complex electrical device that converts alternating voltage to direct voltage. It is exposed to a number of dangers, so it should have a set of security measures. The most common are protection against short circuit (SCP), high output voltage (OVP), overload (OPP), low voltage on output lines (UVP) and high temperature (OTP)
- New standards – ATX 3.0 compliant power supplies with a 12VHPWR power connector, better known as PCIe 5.0 (12+4), are slowly appearing. The connector is designed to power NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3000/4000 graphics cards that have the appropriate inputs. Currently available on only a handful of high-end models, however, some manufacturers sell adapters that are compatible with older PSU models.
The short characteristics listed above do not exhaust the subject, but they should roughly outline what to expect from the power supply. Also remember that only a small percentage of manufacturers use their own platforms, while the rest buy ready-made projects and / or commission their own factories CWT, FSP, SeaSonic, Super Flower, Great Wall, SAMA. What’s more, even the biggest players leave some cheaper series to external manufacturers, for example: SeaSonic B12, contrary to appearances, does not produce SeaSonic, although the project comes from this manufacturer. That’s why companies like XPG, Krux, MSI, Phanteks or Bitfenix have conquered the market relatively easily and the constructions of fresh “manufacturers” can also be found in the guide. The last factor worth checking is the length of the warranty. The standard today is 36 months, although more expensive models offer 60/84/120/144 months. Most often, however, this requires registration of the purchase on the manufacturer’s website, and when the store warranty expires, you usually have to deliver the equipment to the service on your own. Some companies have a service in Poland (be quiet! SilentiumPC), which is a big plus, because shipping abroad is always a problem.
Two power supplies with the same power, but look at the efficiency of the 12 V line – the difference is colossal already at the level of the rating plate