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How Powerful of a Power Supply Do You Really Need?

Roman Luckett is a young author who loves writing and gaming, and most importantly, rabbits.

If you're building a computer, or upgrading the hardware inside it, you will most likely have to choose a power supply. A power supply is hardware that distributes power to the individual components of your PC as they are needed. You can think of it as a miniature electrical substation. It takes the raw electricity from the power cable and evenly distributes that power in your computer. It prevents components from getting too much power, or from not getting enough. The issue is, some power supplies might be a waste of money.

Every computer uses different amounts of power. Home and office computers generally use less than 200 watts of power, while a top of the line gaming PC might use well over 500 watts. Conveniently, power supply manufacturers offer different wattage power supplies. If you aren't planning on using your computer for anything strenuous like gaming, then you should be fine with a 250-300 watt power supply. If you are planning on doing power-intensive tasks like rendering videos and gaming, you might need something more heavy-duty.

The power supply is the box in the bottom left corner.

The power supply is the box in the bottom left corner.

Today, many people simply buy the most high-rated or most reviewed power supply. So much money is being wasted buying power supplies they will never need! It is better to be safe then sorry, but at the same time, spending over $150 dollars on a power supply is just wasteful. While it is impossible to have a 'too powerful' power supply, it is very common for people to buy 800-1000 watt power supplies when their PC really on needs 600. It's not completely useless, because if you plan on upgrading any hardware in the future you would already have a capable power supply, but the majority of people who buy these 'overpowered' supplies won't be upgrading the pc any time soon. And even when you do decide to upgrade, a sensible power supply should still be able to support whatever new hardware you installed.

So what's a reasonable price for a power supply?

The most expensive power supply I would recommend would be in the $90-$120 dollar range. In this price range, you should be able to get quality products, but no unnecessary gimmicks like RGB fans.

There are plenty of manufacturers of power supplies, but there are only a few you can trust. If you've never heard of a company before, it's probably not a great idea to buy their product (unless this is your first time buying a product of this type. In that case, read on because trusted companies will be listed). If you decide to go for a unknown company you run a high risk of getting a defective part or even a dangerous part. There are several instances of power supplies shorting out, dying, and even exploding. You don't want to cheap out on something as important as a power supply.

Sensible power supplies should cost around 100 dollars.

Sensible power supplies should cost around 100 dollars.

The most trusted power supply brands

The most trusted power supply brands are as follows:

  • Corsair
  • EVGA
  • SeaSonic
  • Cooler Master
  • Thermaltake
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Corsair is widely regarded as the most trusted brand of power supplies. They are reliable and efficient, and they are reasonably priced.

EVGA's power supplies are known for their great prices. Reliable and well made, and at very affordable prices. These power supplies are often older models, however.

There's not anything special about SeaSonic's power supplies. Moderately priced and efficient. SeaSonic is known for being reliable.

Cooler Master also produces quality power supplies, but there is also not much special about them. However, Cooler Master makes plenty of other parts, so you may be able to get a power supply for cheap in one of their bundles.

Thermaltake makes quality power supplies as well.

Cooler Master makes quality power supplies.

Cooler Master makes quality power supplies.

How do I know how much power I need?

The best ways to calculate how much power you need is through either Newegg or PC Part Picker. Both sites will give you an estimate on how much power your system will use. Simply pick the parts you are using/planning to use and the site will generate your estimated wattage. Newegg in particular gives a suggestion as to what wattage power supply you should purchase. It's also a good idea to keep in mind what you plan to do on a pc. If you will do nothing more than browse the internet or complete school assignments then you should be perfectly fine with the suggested wattage power supply. If you plan to game or even overclock your system, consider adding at least 50 extra watts onto your power supply expectations. You don't want to be in the middle of an intense game and have your power supply blow up!

Newegg's power supply wattage calculator.

Newegg's power supply wattage calculator.


This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2020 Roman Luckett

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