PSU Buying Guide: How To Buy The Right Power Supply In 2024?

Image of a PSU in buying guide
Image: Cooler Master

Power Supply Units (PSUs) are perhaps the most overlooked components when building a PC. However, their importance cannot be overstated, as they provide power to every other component. Moreover, considering that a cheap PSU can damage your entire build, choosing the right one is crucial. Here is a comprehensive guide on everything you need to know before buying a PSU.

What does a PSU do?

To put things into perspective, a PSU converts the AC from your home to DC and supplies it to all other components. As a result, if you have a subpar PSU that cannot handle the wattage, it can not only damage the components but also lead to fire hazards.

Factors to consider

While the specific needs of individuals cannot be accounted for, there are four general factors to consider before buying a PSU. These include:

1. Wattage

Image of a modular PSU in buying guide

The wattage is undoubtedly the most important aspect when buying a PSU since it determines the total power output available for your system. In simple terms, if you have a 500-watt PSU, it can deliver up to 500 watts of electrical power distributed across various circuits or rails.

However, some may wonder how to measure the total wattage of their system. If you’re in the process of building a new PC, you can estimate the total power consumption using online tools such as Be Quiet! PSU Calculator. Here’s how:

  1. Visit the Be Quiet! PSU Calculator website.
  2. Enter the details about your PC components.
  3. Click Calculate and note down the maximum wattage requirement.
Image of the maximum efficiency calculator

While this number is only an estimate, it provides a rough idea of what type of PSU to purchase. However, there’s another crucial factor to keep in mind: efficiency, which measures how much power your components use compared to the heat generated. PSUs operate at peak efficiency within a specific load range, typically between 50% to 70% of their maximum wattage. In simple terms, if your estimated power draw is 400W, then you should consider buying a PSU that supports around 600W.

Moreover, some PSU manufacturers also advertise peak wattage, which can differ from continuous wattage. Therefore, ensure that the continuous wattage is higher than the estimated system draw before making a purchase.

2. Efficiency ratings

Image of the PSU rating system in the buying guide
Image: Velocity Micro

Since buying the wrong PSU can have disastrous consequences, efficiency ratings play a big part in determining the quality of a unit. Most new PSUs on the market come with at least an 80 Plus certification, indicating an 80% efficiency at 20%, 50%, and 100% of their rated load. Other efficiency ratings, listed from worst to best, include:

  1. 80 Plus
  2. 80 Plus Bronze
  3. 80 Plus Silver
  4. 80 Plus Gold
  5. 80 Plus Platinum
  6. 80 Plus Titanium

But how do you choose between these ratings? The answer depends on your PC. If you’re building a budget PC and don’t plan to run heavy tasks, you can opt for a Bronze or Silver power supply as they are cheaper. However, for gaming purposes, we recommend spending extra on a Gold or Platinum PSU.

Additionally, it is important to note that if you’re planning to buy a pre-built CPU, check the efficiency and rating of the power supply, as most manufacturers tend to compromise on this aspect.

3. Modular vs Non-modular

Image of a modular PSU
Image: Cooler Master

To put things into perspective, a non-modular PSU has all the cables soldered and permanently attached, while a modular PSU has detachable cables. Although there is no clear winner between the two, modular PSUs allow users to choose the cables they want, resulting in a tidier setup. However, the end decision lies with the user since non-modular PSUs tend to be cheaper.

4. Form Factor

Image of a cooler master PSU
Image: Cooler Master

Similar to motherboards, your case will determine the type of PSU you can fit. While most units come in the ATX form factor, if you’re building a compact PC, look for SFX or SFX-L PSUs. However, it is important to note that compact PSUs will not provide the same wattage as the regular ones.

How much should you spend on a PSU?

There is no single correct answer to this question because the choice of a PSU depends on your PC’s components. However, we can categorize the best PSUs based on their wattage.

Around 450W

  1. Corsair VS450 (link)
  2. Corsair CX Series 450 (link)

Around 550W

  1. Corsair CX550F (link)
  2. Corsair RM550x (link)

Over 600W

  1. XPG Core Reactor 650W (link)
  2. Cooler Master V750 Gold V2 750W (link)
  3. EVGA SuperNOVA 850 G7 (link)

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