Your computer is a powerful thing; you can play games, surf the internet, and you can also work using a PC. One of the most important components of a personal computer is the power supply unit or popularly known as PSU. The PSU supplies the power necessary for your computer to run. Without it, your PC will be rendered inoperable.
In this article, I will talk about some of the best power supply units you can buy for your gaming PC. But before anything else, what do you need to look out for before purchasing one? There are some things that you need to be aware of first before buying and I am going to go over them in the next part of the article. You can also check out our updated guide on gaming monitors.
Things to Look for When Buying a Power Supply Unit
1. Wattage. One of the most important aspects of a power supply unit is how much maximum wattage can it supply? The numbers you see on the box of the PSU indicates its maximum wattage. Before buying a power supply, make sure to calculate first how much power your current PC draws. There are a lot of power supply calculators over the internet, so just use one that you like. After calculating the total wattage your system needs, you will get a better idea on what PSU you should get. Make sure to have at least 20% leeway when purchasing a power supply. So for example, your rig draws a total of 350 watts, buy at least a 400-watt power supply or even 450-watts. You do this because of future-proofing. What if one day, you want to overclock your graphics card or processor (which by the way, increases the components’ total power draw), at least you will have enough room for it.
Now, a common misconception is that what you see on the PSU’s box is what the power supply unit will take from your power outlet, but that is just not the case. What I mean by this is that a 1200-watt power supply won’t suck a constant 1200 watts of power from the source. It just means that it can supply a maximum of 1200 watts of power but not at all times (because no system constantly requires that much power for prolonged periods of time).
In connection with what I said above, there are two terms you need to be aware of when looking for a PSU: Continuous and Peak Wattage. You see, the number of watts you see on the box of the PSU is its rated Peak wattage, which means that it is the maximum wattage it can attain. Continuous wattage (usually not indicated on the box) is a term referring to the wattage the power supply unit is able to give at a consistent rate. Remember, the PSU doesn’t peak at all times; even if you’re playing demanding games or applications, it will only peak a couple of times at max. So, don’t get engrossed with the number you see on its packaging.
2. Rails. Many would-be rig builders often just look at the maximum wattage the power supply unit can output but they often overlook one important factor: the rails. Unbeknownst to many, the rails on the power supply is equally important to the maximum watts it is able to give. There are three major rails that you can find on the PSU: the 3.3v, 5v, and the 12v rail. One of particular importance is the 12v rail as this is the one that powers all of the major components in your gaming rig. If you look at the spec sheet, each individual rail has “amps or amperes” as its metric. There are also power supplies that have a single rail or multiple rails. In modern PSUs, you do not need to concern yourself too much about that. What is important is that the rails that the PSU has should give more than enough power to make your system run.
3. Efficiency. Another thing that you might notice when looking at the packaging of a PSU is the “80 Plus” certification. You might have seen PSUs that have 80 Plus Bronze, 80 Plus Platinum, and so on. What does this mean? Well, all those things mean how efficient the power supply can be.
To understand why this is, we must first understand how a power supply unit works. This component works by getting AC currents from the wall and then converting it to usable DC current for your PC to use. Power supply units before were not tested for their efficiency but a few companies have to test it to ensure that power supply units that get to to the market are safe to use for all types of PCs. Thus, the 80 Plus certification was born.
How do certain groups test the efficiency of a power supply and how do PSUs get the 80 Plus certification? Well, they test the PSUs based on their efficiency in different loads (20%, 50%, and 100%). In order for the power supply unit to get certified, the particular component must be at least 80% efficient in the 20%, 50%, and 100% of its maximum load. And, it gets better. If you see the 80 Plus certification followed by the name of a precious metal (such as 80 Plus Gold, for example), it is going to be much more efficient in the said loads. Specifically, the 80 Plus Gold power supply is 87% efficient at 20% load; 90% efficient at 50% load, and 87% efficient at maximum load.
What does this mean to the consumer? Well, if your power supply unit is efficient, it means that you can save on your electric bill for the entire year. Even though it is not that much but savings is savings. Also, an 80 Plus PSU will ensure that it will give the necessary power your computer needs in order to operate. If there is one component that you shouldn’t cheap out on, it is the PSU.
4. Modularity. You’ve probably heard of semi-modular and modular power supplies but what do they mean exactly? Well, there are actually three types of PSU modularity: non-modular, semi-modular, and fully modular. Non-Modular PSUs have all of its cables attached to the unit itself. Everything that you need is already built inside the PSU. The downside to this is that cable management can be a chore since you cannot remove the unused cables.
Semi-Modular power supplies have all the important cables attached to the unit but all of the other optional ones can be removed. The good thing about this design is that you are assured that the most integral connections are in the PSU ready for use. Also, all of the unwanted cables can be removed so that you will have a cleaner look.
Fully Modular power supplies are much more expensive than the aforementioned variants because literally every cable can be removed. This allows you to attach only the ones that you need. The biggest downside of a fully modular PSU is its price as this is the most expensive variant among others. Although it is the most expensive, the fully modular PSU will allow you to have the neatest cable management possible compared to the other PSU choices.
5. Warranties and Support. I cannot stress this enough: you need to buy a PSU from reputable brands ONLY. This ensures that you will get a solid product. Furthermore, buying a power supply unit from trusted manufacturers will net you great warranties as well as an exceptional service. Most power supplies have at least a 3- year warranty and some have more. Avoid generic power supply units at all costs! Although generic PSUs are inexpensive, they are very sketchy to use in a gaming PC and can cause serious damage to your rig’s components. Again, do not cheap out on the PSU as it powers everything inside your computer.
Note: Power supplies nowadays are very sturdy and can last a very long time. Back in the day, there were fears that PSUs can cause serious damage not only to your PC but also your home. That is not true now as all PSUs from reputable manufacturers have built-in protection mechanisms that make sure that they do not exceed their set operational parameters. Things like Overcurrent protection, Overload protection, Over temperature protection, etc. are put in place to ensure that your computer and your home will not burst into flames.
It is also worth mentioning that you do not need to buy an overkill PSU; just enough to power your entire rig. For setups with a single graphics card, some fans, and a few storage devices, a 550-600-watt power supply should be more than adequate. For multiple graphics cards, a maximum of 1000 watts should be adequate enough. For enthusiasts who always look for the most powerful but power-hungry components, a 1200-watt should suffice. Remember, more is not necessarily better in this case. So, just buy a PSU that supports your entire rig.
Now that you know the most essentials of the power supply unit, I am now going to recommend some of the most popular ones on the market.
Best PSUs for Gaming 2016
1. EVGA Bronze 500B
Are you building a gaming PC soon and you just don’t have enough money to buy expensive PSUs? Well, EVGA has got you covered with the EVGA 500B. The 500B is a 500-watt, 80 Plus Bronze certified power supply that is adequate for most gaming rigs.
The EVGA 500B is compact and it has all of the cables that you need because it is a non-modular power supply unit. Although cable management can be an issue here, the 500B has great dimensions so you can fit this one even in small cases. The cables are also sleeved which means that it is reinforced and quite sturdy as well. It is impressive that EVGA went for this design philosophy considering that this power supply costs below $40.
According to various tests, the 500B is able to output the necessary power needed in most budget gaming setups. You can also do some mild overclocking with this one though I do not recommend it with this power supply. I recommend this power supply to people who just want to power their gaming setups with a reliable power supply without breaking the bank.
It is important to note that this power supply is fit only for those people who are tight on the budget, which means that this power supply is intended for the mainstream crowd. If you are going for overclocking or enthusiast level tweaking, it is best that you get a better power supply.
If you’re on a tight budget and you want a power supply that can bring the power necessary for your rig to function, the EVGA Bronze 500B power supply is a very good choice. This PSU currently costs $36.47.
2. Corsair RM550x
Most people know that Corsair is one of the best brands that you can trust, especially when it comes to power supplies. And, for good reason; the company has been churning out the best power supply units ever sold on the market. The good thing is that the company is getting better and better in terms of producing quality components.
The Corsair RM550x is a Fully Modular power supply and it also has an 80 Plus Gold certification. We are looking at a highly efficient, low-noise power supply that delivers the goods. The power supply has a peak wattage of 550 watts and it can deliver that while only having a maximum of 50C in temperature. It might be on the high side for some people who are not into power supplies that much but it is at a pretty respectable value.
An interesting feature of the RM550x is that it has a “Zero RPM” mode. If you have a newer Nvidia graphics card made by third-party companies, this feature is akin to their 0dB fan mode operation where the fans don’t spin when it is only doing light to moderate loads. This is perfect for silent PC enthusiasts who want a power supply that can deliver a consistent and safe power to their rigs without sounding like a jet turbine.
Aside from the aforementioned feature, the Corsair Rm550x also has premium and sturdy components. Its fan uses a rifle bearing compared to the ball-bearing fans found in other power supplies. With regards to the design, the RM550x sports a predominantly black exterior with the Corsair logo and the RM550x branding on the left side. It is pretty compact and it can be put in small cases as well.
According to stress tests, the Corsair RM550x passes all of it with flying colors (although, there was a slight fluctuation on the 12v rail; all of the others are exceptionally good). Furthermore, the PSU’s fans do not spin until it is at 50% load which means that if your computer is idle, you will have a very silent power supply. In fact, it is one of the most quietest power supplies on the market today.
You can do overclocking with this power supply (both the CPU and the graphics card) and it will still perform really quiet (less than 30 dB). Also, the power supply has an excellent consistent wattage and ripple suppression and it also has protection mechanisms in place so that the power supply will not explode nor damage your PC’s components.
And lastly, the Corsair RM550X is a fully modular power supply so this is the one to get if you value cable management so much. With an impressive consistent wattage and ripple suppression, Zero RPM mode, Sturdy build, and a solid 7-year warranty, the Corsair RM550x is an excellent choice for gamers. The Corsair RM550x currently costs $89.90.
3. Seasonic Prime Titanium 650W
Seasonic is a household name when it comes to PSUs. In fact, even their older PSUs are still recommended to this day (like the Seasonic M12i 620W, for example). But, as with all other companies, Seasonic has to create a new lineup to suffice the increasing demand of consumers.
The 600-Watt power supply space is already considered “high-end” because not all of the gaming rigs require that much power. Heck, even a 500-watt PSU is more than enough for a single graphics card gaming system. Because the company is known for its high-quality power supplies, Seasonic has created a fresh new set of PSUs that will surely entice gamers and rig enthusiasts.
The Seasonic Prime Titanium is a 650-Watt power supply with a fully modular cable system and, as the name implies, has an 80 Plus Titanium certification for maximum efficiency and savings. This power supply is also quiet thanks to its “Semi-passive” mode. This mode turns on the fan only when it reaches a certain load threshold. This ensures quiet performance and is perfect for people who value a silent gaming system. If you are not fond of a power supply that has a zero fan mode, there is a button that you can push that turns this feature off, making the fans spin all the time.
What I really love about the Seasonic Prime is that it is one of the most efficient power supplies on the market. You get amazing protection mechanisms that ensure this product won’t burst into flames and you will get consistent performance across the board.
As previously mentioned, the Seasonic Prime should be adequate for most gaming setups. If you want to overclock an i7-6700K and one graphics card, you can pretty much do so and there will be plenty of room to spare.
The build quality of this power supply is awesome and I must say that the company really did a great job in creating this PSU. To further entice consumers and to also show the public that they are proud of this product, the Seasonic Prime also comes with a whopping 10-year warranty; the longest warranty ever given by Seasonic.
Seriously, if you’re looking for a 650-watt power supply, there should be no doubt that the Seasonic Prime Titanium 650W is a prime choice.
4. EVGA SuperNOVA 650 G2
Another product from EVGA has made it into the list because, well, the company offers a lot on the table. The EVGA SuperNOVA 650 G2 is another 650-watt power supply unit in the list and it has amazing features such as a semi-passive mode, 80 Plus Gold certification, and an efficient and powerful performance without being too noisy.
What you can find in most premium power supplies nowadays is they come with either a fan-less or semi-passive mode. What this feature does is that the fans of the PSU will not spin until it reaches a certain power load. In the case of the SuperNOVA 650 G2, the fans won’t spin until it reaches 40% load and when it goes back to <40% load, the fans will not spin again, giving you a dead silent PSU for most of its operation time. Now, there is an apparent concern for this, especially for people who are what I call as “tweakers” or people who want to overclock and tinker with their CPU’s settings. The good thing is that you can turn this semi-passive mode (also known as ECO mode on the 650 G2) if you want the fan to spin on a consistent basis.
Because 650 watts is more than enough power for most gaming setups, you can actually add two more graphics cards into the mix that have a maximum power draw of 200-watts. You can do an SLI configuration, especially if you’re using the newest Pascal cards that are more power efficient than the Maxwell graphics cards. You can do an AMD Crossfire configuration with this power supply, provided that you use the new Polaris GPU, which is one of the most power-efficient graphics cards in the AMD lineup.
Aside from the dual graphics card configurations, the SuperNOVA 650 also allows you to overclock your processor as well. Do note that you have to take into account the actual power draw of all of your PC’s components before attempting to overclock your CPU and GPU.
This power supply comes with excellent ripple suppression and it also has the Over-Voltage Protection, OLP, and it also comes with Japanese capacitors, which are touted to be the best ones in the market in terms of effectiveness and longevity. If there is one thing that you should keep in mind here, that would be that the SuperNOVA 650 doesn’t have an Over-temperature Protection.
Now, don’t get rattled by it as the power supply remains relatively cool even through intense loads. But, it would have been nice for the company to include such a feature as there are other factors that might contribute to high heat (such as high ambient temperatures, for example).
Even though that may be the case, EVGA is known for their impressive warranties. The EVGA SuperNOVA 650 G2 has an impressive 7-year warranty. And, according to user reviews, any problem with their products are easily addressed by a friendly customer service staff. And, the company always replaces the unit if need be and in a timely manner.
The EVGA SuperNOVA 650 G2 is a highly efficient power supply unit, allowing you to have a dual GPU configuration, overclock your PC, efficient power delivery, and it is also backed by a good 7-year warranty with impressive customer support. This power supply currently costs $99.50.
5. Cooler Master V750
Now, we delve into the 750-watt power supply space. In this category, we are bridging the gap between highly overclocked components and 2-3 graphics cards configurations. This is all possible because the graphics cards that are widely available in the market today are more power efficient than ever and they do not take more than 250W of power from the PSU. Furthermore, you can do some slight overclocking as well, although if you do want to push it to the limit when you’re doing multiple GPU configurations, I highly suggest you get an 850-watt power supply instead.
Anyway, Cooler Master is also known in the power supply space and they have produced quite a number of notable ones. The Cooler Master V750 is a great choice and here’s why: its Silencio fans are silent that it only outputted a maximum of 570RPM fan speeds. In other words, the PSU is whisper silent even at 100% loads.
This power supply is also fully modular and, add to that, it has flat cables. Although some people would prefer braided ones, the flat cables ensure that it is easier to route throughout your system. It is not that flat where you would see the cables as of inferior quality. The cables are pretty sturdy given their exterior and it sports an all-black finish which makes it ideal for most gaming setups.
Another thing to note about the V750 is that it has a rather compact design. It has dimensions of only 150 x 140 x 86. Even though it has a compact design, it is still within the ATX form factor. If you want a small power supply that packs a punch, the V750 is indeed one of the best PSUs out there.
As with all other power supplies on this list, the Cooler Master V750 power supply comes with all protection mechanisms and all of the cables you will ever need. Couple that with the fact that this power supply is fully modular so cable management will be a cinch.
Despite its smaller size, the V750 is actually quite sturdy. It is also built with Japanese capacitors which, as I’ve mentioned before, is known for its quality performance. Voltage regulation is pretty good although its ripple suppression is a tad underwhelming, at least, when compared to other 750-watt power supplies.
All in all, the Cooler Master V750 packs a lot of power in a small exterior. With flat cables, fully modular cabling scheme, all protection mechanisms, and an excellent performing Silencio fan, the Cooler Master V750 is a power supply that you should consider when you’re looking for a 750-watt PSU. This product costs $118.42.
6. EVGA SuperNOVA 850 T2
All of the computer component manufacturers strive for perfection. They want to be the best in whatever they put out on the market. EVGA might have been one of the only companies that have reached that perfection, at least, in the power supply echelon.
The EVGA SuperNOVA 850 T2 is a near-perfect, 850-watt power supply unit and it is definitely something to consider if you are going to power a high-end gaming rig. One of the hallmarks of the SuperNOVA 850 T2 is its efficiency. This PSU has an 80 Plus Titanium certification and it definitely delivers. In fact, it is 92-94% efficient at 100% loads making this PSU one of the most powerful and energy efficient in the market.
Build quality is top notch as it has a matte black finish with some EVGA branding at the back. The ports are spaced just right and it shouldn’t pose any problems at all. This PSU is fully modular and the cables are sleeved for that extra added protection.
In terms of thermals, noise, and its operation, the SuperNOVA 850 T2 is highly efficient without outputting a lot of noise. In fact, at full load with the fans spinning, it only reached a maximum of 42dB of noise, which is pretty quiet for a power supply.
It has a single 12V rail which should power all of the power-hungry components in your PC including multiple graphics cards and an overclocked CPU. Seriously, if you plan on getting 3 graphics cards and do a multiple GPU setup, you can pretty much do that and do some overclocking as well.
As mentioned earlier, the SuperNOVA 850 T2 is a near-perfect power supply. Where it fell short was its price. It is currently priced at $199.99. It warrants the price though as it is not only efficient; the build quality is also something to be proud of. This product is also backed by a manufacturer best, 10-year warranty and EVGA is known for its superb customer service.
There is really nothing much to say other than this product is great. The EVGA SuperNOVA 850 T2 might be pricey but the price is warranted given what this power supply can do.
7. FSP Aurum PT 1000W
You might not be familiar with this brand but do not be fooled; FPS is actually an OEM that works with popular companies such as EVGA, NZXT, and much more. Because of the fact that they are an original equipment manufacturer, they are able to rectify any faults within their products quickly and easily.
That being said, the FSP Aurum PT is one of the best 1000-watt power supplies in the market. It has an 80 Plus Platinum certification with an impressive 92% efficiency at 100% loads. Among all of the 1000-watt power supplies, the FPS Aurum delivered exceptionally good performance with a very tight load regulation. What does a tight load regulation mean to the average consumer? Well, let’s just say that whenever your PC requires an “x” amount of power, the PSU is able to deliver it without a hitch.
Silence is not this PSU’s strongest suit since the Aurum PT doesn’t have a semi-passive or ECO mode. Instead, the fans continually spin just like other PSUs. Despite the lack of the ECO mode feature, the power supply has a conservative fan curve. Even if it is running at near max loads, the fan stayed at lower RPMs but when compared to other PSUs, the fan noise of this product is more pronounced. It might have helped in the acoustics department if it had a semi-passive design but it is a minor drawback considering the power that this thing can give.
The included cables are kind of a mixed bag. They included both braided and flat ones; with the major ones having the braided treatment while the peripheral cables are flat. It would’ve been nice for the majority of consumers if the company has stuck to one or the other, but I guess they’re trying to cut down on the total production cost of the unit.
In terms of its performance, the FSP Aurum 1000-watt power supply just flies and is one of the best in its ranks. There are only two things to note; one being its slower load-up time and its 5VSB rail. Aside from that, this power supply is great.
The FSP Aurum PT 1000W power supply is one of the best; if not the best, 1000-watt power supply on the market. The brand might not be well-known but this company has worked with other PC component manufacturers through the years, so you’ll know that you’re getting a quality product.
With a fully modular design, very good performance, and only a few minor quirks, the FSP Aurum PT 1000W power supply is definitely a good choice. This PSU retails for $189.99.
8. Thermaltake Toughpower DPS G RGB 1250W
We now live in a world where almost all of the PC components have RGB lighting. We already have fans, motherboards, and even graphics cards that have some kind of RGB lighting mechanism and it looks pretty damn good. Now, what if I tell you that there is a power supply unit with RGB lighting, what would your reaction be? I am positive that you will laugh at me and you will not believe what I said. But, the truth is, there is actually such a PSU on the market.
The Thermaltake Toughpower DPS G RGB 1250-watt power supply is one of the first of its kind. It has a fan with RGB LED lighting on it so you can further improve your rig’s aesthetics. Although it might not be practical for some, having RGB components is a dream come true for people who value eye candy more than anything.
Among all of the power supplies on this list, the Toughpower DPS G is the biggest. It measures about 20 centimeters deep but that is probably something you should expect if you’re looking at a 1200-watt power supply. All of the high-end PSUs nowadays have a semi-passive cooling mechanism and the DPS G also has it. According to the specifications of the product, the fans will not spin if it is below 50% load. This is perfect not only for people who want aesthetics but also for people who are looking into creating a silent PC.
One notable feature of the Toughpower DPS G is its digital interface. It is kind of technical to discuss but the main idea is that having a PSU with a digital controller will give you more information about its performance and certain features can also be included as well (such as remote shutdown, for example). The reason why you’re not seeing them on the market is because of the higher cost. Having digital chips are still quite expensive to this day. We might be seeing more PSUs with the digital interface in the coming years, though.
Considering that this PSU is an 80 Plus Titanium certified product, efficiency is never a problem. In fact, it is one of the best performing PSUs in the 1200-watt range. The PSU is also fully modular and the cables are sleeved, though, it still vexes me why they opt for a black, red, and yellow color scheme for the sleeves.
Another great thing about this PSU is that you can monitor its performance through your PC or mobile device thanks to its SPM or “Smart Power Management”. This feature was installed in PSUs with digital interfaces mainly to curb carbon dioxide emissions and to help save our planet. It is also nice considering that you can see the total power consumption of your gaming PC at any time.
The Thermaltake Toughpower DPS G RGB 1250-watt power supply is a great choice if you’re looking for an enthusiast power supply. With the SPM, highly efficient performance and silent operation, a digital interface, a 10-year warranty, and of course, its RGB LED fan, the Thermaltake Toughpower DPS G RGB is definitely a must-have. This PSU costs $349.99.
Power supplies, although not too flashy compared to other components, is a must-have for every PC. It is your rig’s source of power and without it, it wouldn’t function at all. Now, do not believe that more is better because PC components have become more power efficient these days. That is why, as previously mentioned, it is best that you use a power calculator to have a sense of how much power your PC uses.
For most gaming rigs having a modest processor and a single graphics card, a 500-watt power supply should suffice. You can probably bump it up to 550 if you want to do some heavy overclocking, but really, 500 watts should be more than enough.
In terms of modularity, it is a matter of preference. Non-modular power supplies have all of its cables built in and you do not have the option to remove them. They are the cheapest of any PSU variant but they are also a nightmare for people who are looking for a nice looking build. It is a cable management nightmare if you opt for this kind of power supply. Non-modular power supplies are best for people who are on a budget. Just look at the EVGA 500B I recommended above. If you look at sites like Amazon.com, you will find a lot of people are using them for budget systems. Do not be fooled by the price because it is evident in this PSU that it does its job pretty well.
If you want the best price and performance, a semi-modular power supply is your best bet. The difference between a semi-modular and the fully modular power supply is that in the semi-modular, only the important cables are intact while you can remove the peripheral ones. In fully modular power supplies, all of the cables can be removed. Both of them are great for people who want a nice and clean looking build, although fully modular power supplies tend to be much more expensive.
As you might have noticed, I haven’t included a 1500-watt power supply. Well, that is because 1250 watts is overkill for most gaming setups. 1500-watt power supplies and higher are only best for people who are into enthusiast level rig building. For most gamers, 550-watts is the “minimum” and 1250 watts is the ceiling. Heck, even an 850-watt power supply is more than enough for multiple graphics card configurations.
As much as possible, aim for a power supply with an 80 Plus Bronze certification. If you can afford it, a power supply with 80 Plus Gold or higher is ideal. The higher the 80 Plus rank is (in terms of the precious metal used), the better the efficiency. Although people do not deem power savings from the PSU big enough, it is still savings that you can spend on something else.
I hope that this article has helped you get the best power supply for your gaming rig. I know that there are still a lot of PSUs out there but I find that these are the most bang for your buck. If you have any recommendations, please feel free to leave a comment down below.
Learn more about PC Power supplies on Wikipedia