Powering your computer can be a complex matter, especially considering that machines range from powerful gaming beasts to simple home and office mainstays that power personal businesses. Over the years the world of computer power supplies (or the PSU) has grown steadily; some units are now even able to produce voltages in excess of 1500 watts. As this is one of the most important components in your PC, you want to consider all of your needs when purchasing a power supply, especially when building or powering a computer designed for gaming.
There are a bevy of trusted power supply brands. Though there are many smaller companies that create equally reputable hardware, some known brands to look out for are Corsair, Thermaltake, EVGA, and Seasonic. When selecting a power supply to provide wattage to your gaming computer, make sure that you make these considerations; as having a sub optimal power setup can hinder your gaming experience considerably.
• Remember, high end NVIDIA and Radeon graphics cards are notorious energy hogs. For an optimal gaming experience, try to stick with a power supply that’s above 500 watts. If you are planning to utilize SLI architecture and use two or more high-end, overclocked graphics cards, then you definitely want a PSU that offers a wattage that’s over 1200.
• No one likes a case that’s packed with wires that lead to no active computer components. Nowadays, there are many modular options that will reduce the number of wires needed to run your computer efficiently.
• If you’re looking to save on your monthly electric bill, select a PSU that is efficient as well as powerful. In 2004, the 80 Plus efficiency ratings were launched. This is a voluntary rating system that certifies whether a power supply operates at 80 percent efficiency at 20, 50, and 100 percent of an energy load. Efficiency ratings range from 80 plus to 80 plus titanium. One caveat: Higher energy levels tend to reduce efficiency, though this is not always the case.
• The sad truth is, as a result of load and some environmental factors like dust, PSU’s will eventually fail. Be sure that when you select a power supply for your gaming beast of a system, that there is a warranty in case it fails.
• Connector types are also incredibly important. Buying a PSU that doesn’t match your mobo (motherboard), can really be stressful. Be sure that any modular or even non-modular PSU you buy matches your gaming system’s connection requirements or you’ll have to buy another mobo or power supply.
• Also consider Over Temperature Protection (OTP) when purchasing your PSU. This feature insures that your device will shut down rather than burn out under load.
Here is a list of some of the best units for gaming on the market, grouped by the premium, mid price, and most cost efficient models.
The Best Premium PSUs for Gaming ($150 and up)
As a power supply that is widely considered to be the best power supply for gaming that’s available on the market today, the AX1500i lives up to all the hype that it’s garnished over the past several months. If you’re looking for efficiency, then look no further; despite the larger energy capacity, this unit meets the 80 Plus Titanium efficiency requirements. This is also the closest to being fully digital of all the PSU’s on our list; with the majority of the power supply’s infrastructure eschewing the purely analog construction of power supplies of the past. The AX15000i is a fully modular option with connections for almost any PC’s power requirements. This PSU is also capable of delivering crucial, gaming-ready performance in conditions of up to 50° C, or 122° Fahrenheit.
The second of our premium PSU’s garnered a bronze status for the 80 plus efficiency ratings, and while this isn’t quite as efficient as the Corsair AX1500i, bronze status still means that this is a very efficient power supply. Unlike the Corsair, this power supply is semi-modular; meaning that essential cables come pre-attached, the remainder of the power cables has to be attached manually. This is especially useful when powering gaming machines as they tend to have more extensive cabling than standard machines. Due to its 1200 watt capacity, this power supply can handle the heightened energy load of gaming computers. You can reliably connect up to four SLI capable graphics cards, two blue ray or DVD players, and up to three SATA and solid-state hard drives to this device without placing too much stress on the unit.
The EVGA SuperNOVA 1600 P2 has the highest energy capacity on our list. With a platinum 80 plus efficiency rating, this power supply is also startlingly efficient for its high capacity; ranging at around 90 percent energy efficiency at 20, 50, or 100 percent. This value shouldn’t be underestimated as it is extremely difficult to reach this level of efficiency with such high energy output. If you plan to overclock four SLI’d GeForce 980ti’s in order to achieve fps greatness, then this might be the supply you’re looking for. Also, in terms of build-type, the SuperNOVA is fully modular and is larger to accommodate all of the extra wattage. EVGA also offers an amazing 10 year warranty for this device; a rarity for PSU’s.
Our fourth premium PSU has a brand name that sounds like a stern command. The Be Quiet! Dark Power Pro 850 watt power supply, as you might have guessed this power supply provides near-silent performance alongside a great wattage for gaming. In regards to efficiency, this PSU is also 80 Plus Platinum rated which or over 90 percent energy efficient under load. While this PSU is not necessarily a wattage powerhouse; nevertheless, the 850 watts that this power supply provides can easily power years of high performance gaming. This device is semi-modular; the only cable that’s natively connected is the power cord. Since gaming systems, especially those that are overclocked, can run hot, it’s good to know that this PSU has OTP and can function at temperatures up to 50° C, or 122° Fahrenheit.
Rarely do we find a name more synonymous with high end, competitive PC gaming than Fatal1ty. Originally developed as the gamertag of entrepreneur and former gaming champion Johnathan Wendel, any item bearing the Fatal1ty title is designed with PC gaming in mind. This PC Power And Cooling PSU is 80 plus gold efficient, meaning that it operates at a crisp 87 percent efficiency. For case modders with glass case sides, this power supply features a red LED that looks cool. This PSU also has some great voltage regulation, which is great for overclockers who want to avoid the ripple that’s inherent in some power supplies. Cable-wise, this power supply is semi-modular with a bevy of wires that are ready to power your individual components.
The Best Mid Tier PSU’s for Gaming ($150 to $80)
This is a great power supply for a very competitive price. The RM850i also is gold rated when it comes to 80 plus efficiency. At up to 40 percent of load, the fan is in a 0 RPM mode, meaning that this power supply is utterly silent when untaxed. At 850 watts you won’t be piling on four overclocked, SLI high-performance graphics cards, but this is still one very reliable power supply for gaming. This PSU even comes with a Corsair LINK connector. This connector allows you to interface with your PSU directly using the LINK software. This allows you to change up fan speed, or switch from 12 volt multi-rail power delivery to a single rail power delivery system.
Another PC Power & Cooling power supply that falls under Johnathan Wendel’s Fatal1ty line, this unit provides 750 watts of juice for your PC. This PSU also runs whisper quiet by using a internally modulated ball bearing fan to control RPM based entirely off of energy demand. Like the other Fatal1ty on our list, this PSU features a red LED that can really add a lot of personality to your favorite gaming machine. As a result of the included Active Power Factor Correction (PFC), there is very little power fluctuation on this PSU. Finally, this power supply is fully modular and comes with all the cables you need to power all of your computer components for years to come.
At 500 watts, this Silverstone Technology power supply won’t power the most demanding of power guzzling gaming machines, but will easily provide all the juice you need for games like World of Warcraft or even Overwatch. If you are looking for steadfast reliability at mid range load, this is definitely a great PSU. This reliability is also bolstered by the 80 Plus Gold certification which ensures up to 90 percent efficiency at 50 percent power load. The Semi-Intelligent power supply is also self regulating, powering down the RPM of the fan if it’s not needed, or speeding it up for more demanding jobs. This PSU is also fully modular with a decent amount of cables for most gaming and computing needs.
For a mid-range PSU for gaming, this power supply comes in at an almost budget price. EVGA has made quite the name for itself by providing reliable, gaming-worthy products for more than a decade, this power supply continues that tradition admirably. The second in EVGA’s SuperNOVA line featured on our list, this 550 watt power supply provides much less overall wattage than the prior entry but is a perfect gaming power supply for the mid-tier system. Insofar as efficiency, this PSU meets the gold standard. This is also one of the most protected supplies on our list when it comes to power. These include OVP (Over Voltage Protection), UVP (Under Voltage Protection), OPP (Over Power Protection), and SCP (Short Circuit Protection).
The final entry in our mid-tier power supplies list is quite impressive. Gold rated in the 80 Plus efficiency scale, this PSU can maintain 90 percent efficiency at 50 percent of its load. Sporting an entirely modular design, this device also makes all of your cabling requirements easy. Fully cabled, this device can accommodate up to eight SATA drives and four graphics cards. Seasonic also managed to reduce ripple and noise in this unit to a nearly nonexistent level.
The Best Cheap PSU’s for Gaming (Under $80)
From Seasonic X to Seasonic G, this company makes a great power supply. Need gaming power at an incredibly reasonable price? The 550 watt version of Seasonic’s G series will serve you well. While you won’t be overclocking several GPU’s, you’ll definitely get great performance of this 80 Plus gold certified power supply. It possesses fully modular cabling and is built using 12 volt single rail technology. Like the majority of power supplies on this list, the G Series is also startlingly quiet under moderate loads and is built to last for years.
Like all the Corsair power supplies on our list, the CX500 is built using quality engineering and reliable parts. Rated at 80 Plus bronze, this device, while not as efficient as some of the other Corsair units, definitely produces energy for your machine in a perfectly reasonable fashion. The included 99 percent Active Power Factor Correction reduces rippling and also grants steady power to your components for reliable gaming. The variable RPM system also speeds or slows the PSU fan’s revolutions based on active energy demands and cooling requirements. Several voltage and current protections are also included with this model so that when that unfortunate power spike occurs, your gaming system won’t bite the dust.
A power supply that can provide your gaming system a steady 725 watts for as low a price as the Sentey power supply is exceedingly rare. The semi-modular Sentey even includes extra leads for up to two high end graphics cards. While this power supply has been rated bronze in the 80 Plus efficiency ratings, you can still expect great efficiency from the device, especially around the 20 to 50 percent range. This single rail power supply works at a steady 12v and also has OPP/OVP/UVP/SCP protections to ensure reliable, burnout-free PC gaming.
Rated at standard 80 Plus efficiency, the Thermaltake SMART 500 watt still works at around 80 percent under the majority of power loads. A great power supply for an inexpensive, yet well-powered gaming PC, the SMART 500 watts has some impressive features for its under $50 price point. The first fully non-modular power supply on our list, this Thermaltake nevertheless features more than enough attached cabling for the needs of most serious gamers. If you are looking for a great budgetary power supply that will keep your raiding and laning system well powered, then this is the PSU for you.
As a relatively little-known hardware company, Apevia has done a great job in creating a relatively no-frills, yet reliable device in their ATX-JP1000W 1000W Power Supply. Similarly to our previous entry, this power supply is non-modular but unlike the others on our list, isn’t rated at a 80 Plus efficiency level. In any case, this is the perfect model of PSU for a simple gaming system, and while it’s far from the most efficient, it definitely isn’t a power guzzler either. This is also the cheapest power supply on our list with reliability that rivals some of the premium products.