How To Pick The Best Power Supply For Your Computer

How To Pick The Best Power Supply For Your Computer

Power supplies are probably the least carefully considered component of a machine build, but this often turns out to be fatal error, as a bad choice could result in a short lifetime not just for the unit itself, but for your entire machine. With that in mind, here are five important things you need to consider when picking a power supply for computer (PSU).


The world of the PSU is still nowhere as comprehensive as other components of a build, so it is really important to go on the reputation of the make. Antec, for example, make good-quality, sturdy units and can be trusted. Check reviews as well; one good thing about building your own is that it requires a bit of subject knowledge, so you won’t get generic reviews from people who don’t know what they’re talking about. A company like Antec supply a lot of different units so you will be able to find a compatible supply under the company name.

2. Power

You want to be looking at wattage here, and in terms of continuous output rather than maximum possible output. Unless you’re building something very serious indeed, you won’t need to go above a 1000W max. output unit, although you can buy up to 1800W. Consider the overall power of your machine, and look at a power supply with a maximum output of roughly double that; power supplies operate best at about 50%, and are more energy efficient too, bringing us on to our next point…

3. Energy Efficiency

Efficiency means two things; how close to its maximum potential a PSU can get, and how long it will last. An inefficient PSU will not only work itself to death pretty quickly, but it will also struggle to get near the capacity for which you bought it. For example, if you buy a PSU with an efficiency rating of 70 (70%), this means it will reliably achieve 70% of its capacity. For starters, choose a unit with “80-plus” certificate. Once you get that part right, there are then sub-ratings of bronze, silver, gold and platinum within this. Anything above bronze and the price will jump up very suddenly; bronze is perfectly good enough.

4. Safety

This is possibly the most important factor to consider; what you really don’t want is your cut-price PSU to send your machine up in flames when it’s had enough. Make sure you don’t overlook safety features and their corresponding codes; OVP and UVP (Over and Under Voltage Protection) will protect against power issues, while SCP (Short Circuit Protection) will ensure that your machine isn’t damaged in the event of a trip. Do yourself a favour – don’t cut corners here.

5. Price

As with power, don’t just assume that higher automatically means better. As with other components of a build, you need to consider individual parts in context with the machine as a whole. A good rule of thumb is to buy a PSU costing about 10% of the value of the total machine; you just don’t need anything more expensive.
Considering all these elements will ensure that you get a PSU that will serve your machine well, and for a long time. Our top brands are Corsair, Silverstone, Antec and Seasonic – you can’t go far wrong sticking inside these brands, and then applying our five rules to the units on offer from them.

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