Best Power Supply For Gaming

Last Updated on by Nicholas Frost

PC gamers forget about the importance of a suitable power supply when creating their gaming rig, usually picking their units based only on price and wattage. Sadly, neglecting this crucial component of a CPU system will increase the risks of damaging other parts and costing them more in the long run.

Power supply units or PSUs stabilize and regulate the energy that runs throughout your PC. Regardless of whether you have a gaming system with new and expensive components or a budget one, your rig will greatly benefit from a good CPU. These benefits are more prevalent if you live in a locale where power surges or electrical faults are common. Without a good PSU to safeguard your system, you run the risk of damaging it and losing a lot of money in the process. It’s a good investment to ensure the safety of your components (which usually cost a lot of money even at the affordable end) and maintain their long-term quality.

The Ultimate Buying Guide For The Best Power Supply For Gaming

Power supplies play very important roles for your gaming systems, and should never be neglected. They can determine your rig’s long-term stability and reliability. Buying the most expensive or recently released models won’t cut it either. There are many factors you need to take into account when choosing the right PSU. Otherwise, making one mistake will negatively affect your system, resulting in performance issues, crashes, boot failures, or worse, the destruction of your components.

The following are the factors you should have in mind before cashing out any bucks for a new PSU.

  • Power Requirement

This is the first question you need to ask yourself when buying a new PSU. Each of your PC’s components has individual power requirements. You need to calculate the needed total power of your system and match it with a PSU that can provide that value.

In general, most gaming rigs need wattages of above 500 as the absolute minimum requirement, but there are some systems that may require over 1000W PSUs in order to run optimally. SLI units, for instance, use over two graphics that run overclocked, so they need wattages of over 1200W to get the best gaming experience.

  • Tip:

It’s always good to have a leeway when it comes to PSUs. Never choose one that will run at 100% capacity because this usually results in performance degradation in the long run.

It’s a better investment to purchase PSU that has a larger wattage capacity in relation to your system’s requirements. By having that margin, both your PSU and the components of your system will be guarded, and leave room for any future upgrades.

  • Dimensions

PSUs come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Before you lock in on a purchase, check its dimensions first to make sure that it can fit into your system. This is especially important for gamers with compact builds which have little room for error in terms of space requirements.

  • Budget

Finally, you need a PSU that meets your price range. Luckily, there are plenty of quality brands that offer quality models from both high-end and budget ranges. However, it’s important to note that buying a cheap unit without that doesn’t offer much in terms of quality will usually cost you more in the long run if your system gets damaged because of it.

Important Power Supply Factors And Components

Here’s a more in-depth discussion into the inner workings of a power supply unit. These factors and components all add up to create a model that will suit your system’s needs and offer other added benefits:

Wattage

It goes without saying that wattage is the most important metric you need to consider when getting a new PSU. If you get one that doesn’t meet your system’s power requirements, it will cause a system shut down, or it won’t even turn on at all. Even worse, it could potentially damage some of your components.

To get an overview of your system’s needed power, you can use many available online calculators that can give an estimate of the wattage requirement. Buying a PSU that can provide excessive amounts of power that you don’t really need is a waste of money, but getting one that just barely meets your power requirements isn’t good either. Unless you have a very power-demanding system or you’re planning to upgrade your current rig into one, then buying a high-wattage PSU isn’t really worth it. Going a little above your needed power is the safest and most cost-effective decision.

Some online calculators like OuterVision’s will provide an estimate that goes a bit higher than you actually need. For instance, if your actual power consumption is 500 watts, then it will recommend getting between a 550-600 wattage PSU. This way, you don’t run the risk of having your power supply unit running at a constant 100% capacity.

While checking online calculators offers more convenience, it’s often best to manually determine your system’s power consumption for yourself. You can find the specifications of your components in their packaging or through their brand’s website, then compare your manual calculations with the online ones to say if they’re similar.

Here are a few online calculators you can use:

  • OuterVision PSU Calculator
  • Be quiet! PSU Calculator
  • Cooler Master Power Calculator
  • MSI PSU Calculator
  • Seasonic Wattage Calculator
  • Newegg PSU Calculator

Efficiency

Much like every electrical component, a PSU will run at a certain energy efficiency which is rated by the ECOS, an international environmental organization that specializes in standardization. If you’ve seen the words “80 Plus Standard” in one of your electrical components, then that means you’re device is ECOS certified.

What does this mean for you? To put it simply, having a base-level 80 Plus Standard ensures that your device provides 80% of all its total wattage, with the rest being lost because it was converted into heat and other forms of energy.

By having a PSU with these standards, it will reduce your power bill by providing more energy instead of being dissipated as other useless energy forms.

  • Power Supply Efficiency Certifications

For your PSU, we advise choosing a model that goes above the base level standard. In general, PSUs operate at maximum efficiency when they’re at a rated capacity of 50%. If you want to avoid degrading your system performance, you should choose a unit with wattage above you’re system requirements, so its nominal range of load lies between 20% to 100%.

The main question people usually as is if the savings from lower power consumption due to higher efficiency will offset the expense of buying a model with a higher standard over the course of its lifespan.

It will be considered a long-term investment because you will only recover your losses from buying an efficient but more expensive model in over half a decade’s time. However, there are plenty of factors to consider that will influence your energy savings, such as the energy prices in your locale and the lifespan of your model (which will be longer because of its efficiency.) Here is the list of all the standard levels set by ECOS and see the differences for yourself:

  • Base Level: The baseline standard of 80-82% efficiency
  • Bronze: Operates at 83%-85% efficiency
  • Silver: Operates at 85%-88% efficiency
  • Gold: Operates at 88%-92% efficiency
  • Platinum: Operates at 92%-94% efficiency
  • Titanium: The highest ECOS rating running above 94% efficiency

Cabling System

Modular PSUs let you attach or detach every cable in the unit; semi-modular, only some because they have a few permanently-fixed cables; non-modular units all have permanently attached cables. Choosing which one mostly depends on what your preferences are. In general, though, you want to choose a PSU model with a manageable cabling system that doesn’t add to impedance. To give you an idea about the benefits of each modular support type, here are some of the advantages of choosing them:

  1. Fully Modular or Semi-Modular

Pros:

  • Units sporting modular systems will enable you to pick only the cables you need and remove the ones that aren’t in use, which will improve your system’s efficiency in terms of power consumption.
  • Reduced clutter results in enhanced airflow. It will also make your whole system look a bit more organized and neat.
  • You would have fewer cables to manage.
  • Units with modular cabling have available connectors that are very useful for GPUs and many other important components of a gaming system.

Cons:

  • They are pricier compared to units with fixed cabling systems.
  1. Fixed

Pros:

  • You don’t run the risk of losing any of your cables since they’re already permanently attached to your unit.
  • Usually more affordable

Cons:

  • Might result in a messier looking build
  • Less efficient power-consumption

Compatibility

Buying a PSU and finding out that it’s not actually compatible with the system you currently have will give you more stress and more hassle, considering that you would have to return it to get your money back.

Whether you’re buying a more affordable PSU or a high-end one, make sure that its specifications meet with all of your gaming rig’s system requirements. This way, you can easily avoid handling an unnecessary mess. By ignoring the compatibility of your system, you also risk getting it damaged, which will incur a lot more added expense. One of the most important PSU and your motherboard’s specs you need to find out is their form factor:

  • Form Factor

This comes in a variety of different types, but the most common is the ATX form factor, and they are the connections attached to your PSU. Each form factor comes with a different number of pins in their connectors that are attached to the PSU. A higher number of pins will often mean a higher power requirement that can support more beefy motherboards.

Cooling System

One major PSU component is its cooling fans. These fans are essential in keeping PSUs more sensitive components within a safe temperature. By doing so, its life is extended. However, fans will, of course, generate sound, and different fans will have different noise outputs. High-speed fans will usually mean louder noises, which is especially noticeable when your system is under high load.

Here are the types of cooling systems that different PSU models come with:

  • Passive Cooling

Don’t utilize any fan cooling, but instead relies on the unit’s design and power efficiency to reduce heating

Semi-Passive Operation

Most PSUs with higher standard certifications like Platinum and Titanium will have a semi-passive cooling system that only activates when the system is under high heat. Otherwise, it remains turned off at lower temperatures. Because of the PSU efficiency, this means less generated heat, so these fans will only activate in moments of demanding usage.

PSUs of this type will have larger heat sinks to ensure that its components will dissipate heat and maintain lower temperatures even when the fans aren’t turned on. One qualm we have about this operation is that it lets the unit reach high temperatures before it cools it, which might not be ideal in the long run.

  • Active Operation

PSU with active cooling have their fans turned on indefinitely, which can be more effective when maintaining low temperatures is concerned. It will, however, generate more noise and use up more energy. With its high-quality fans, though, these factors will barely be an issue. We believe that active fans running at lower RPMs serve as a better cooling system compared to their semi-passive counterparts.

Current Regulators And Rails

This is an on-going debate among the gaming community. PSUs can come in two configurations, namely, single-rail and multi-rail. These connections deliver varying amounts of power to your system.

For one thing, Single rail models will provide 12V and are beneficial in terms of convenience, since you bypass the need of balancing loads, unlike units that sport multi-rail configurations. One major drawback of having single-rail units is that they come with a higher probability of damaging any connected components because of surging energy.

Multi-rail PSUs, on the other hand, can power different components at one time, you just need to be careful when modifying each of their power loads. Check all the ratings of each of your PC connections to avoid any mistakes.

Built-in Safety And Protection

While not on top of the priority list, having some form of protection to fall back on will help eliminate any potential damage. Many modern power supply units come with their own set of protective measures, and they will turn off your system automatically to reduce any additional damage in the event of a power malfunction. It’s always good to have some of these built-in protections:

  • OTP (Over Temperature Protection)

OTPs usually regulate the temperature through thermistors that are attached to a separate heat sink. These thermistors will give the necessary temperature readings to the OTP, which will immediately shut down the PSU upon receiving an unsafe temp value.

  • Under And Over Voltage Protection (UVP And OVP)

Both of these systems will constantly monitor the voltages of your PSU rails, activating once their values go above or below a certain limit.

  • Over-Current Protection (OCP)

This is a very popular form of protection for multi-rail PSUs. This will activate whenever the flow of current reaches above the safe threshold.

  • OPP (Over Power Protection)

The OPP does its job whenever your PSU goes above its maximum capacity rate. More often than not, PSU manufacturers set a certain range that allows a little bit of going above their maximum capacity rate. This is why most OPP thresholds are set between 50 and 100 watts of the actual maximum wattage.

  • SCP (Short Circuit Protection)

SCPs will monitor output rails that will shut down the system the moment it finds any resistance under 0.1Ω, or in layman’s terms, whenever the rails become short-circuited.

Manufacturer Warranty

When all else fails, in case of any damage, having a good warranty will save you the extra cost of repairing or replacing a broken PSU.

What Will I Gain From Having An Optimal Power Supply?

Here are but a few of the many benefits you’ll be paying for when investing in a higher-quality PSU:

  • Lower Energy Consumption

Having an ECOS certified PSU would reduce your power consumption by increasing the efficiency of your unit, losing less power to heat and other energy forms. If you’re running a very energy-demanding gaming system, or you live in an area where power is expensive, the reduction of your energy bills will be more apparent.

  • Ideal Gaming Experience

If gaming is a regular part of your lifestyle, then you would want a PSU that provides stable power and good protection for your system, ensuring that it maintains its quality for a long time.

  • Allows For Upgrading In The Future

By purchasing PSUs that sport higher wattage, upgrading your system with newer components will be cheaper because you won’t have to spend on buying a new PSU. More expensive PSUs will also have available modular connectors that let you use more components.

  • Damage Prevention

A PSU both protects and prevents your PC architecture from damage. If, for example, you are using high-end video cards, a PSU will prevent damage to the application and software in use by providing adequate and stable power.

How We Review Our Products

Whether you’re currently running a beast of a rig or one that’s both for work and decent gaming quality, our review list will help you find what you need. We’ve analyzed an extensive number of the latest models coming from the top brands, where they underwent long-term testing. We have also reviewed every unit based on the factors we’ve listed above.

To make purchasing easier, we’ve included a list of each PSU model’s general specifications, as well as any information that may help you make an informed purchase. In terms of price, the PSUs we’ve selected have varying price ranges to suit every budget.

Best Power Supplies For Gaming In 2019

1. Corsair Model AX1000

  • Creator: Seasonic
  • Wattage Capacity: 1000W
  • Efficiency Rating: 80 PLUS Titanium
  • Form Factor Type: ATX12V (EPS 2.92, v2.4)
  • Cooling System: FDB type 135mm (HA13525M12F-Z)
  • Cabling System: Fully modular
  • Warranty Time: 10 years

The AX100 proves to be one of the top 1000W PSU units in the market, featuring high performance at low noise levels.

This PSU sports decently long cables, but we’ve expected longer ones for its peripheral connectors. Its connectors for EPS should also be thicker to reduce drops in voltage. In terms of cooling, its FDB type fan will have longer lifespans compared to other fan types. This PSU’s rails are extensively regulated in terms of load and feature impressive ripple suppression, which entails higher efficiency.

The AX1000 is definitely on the pricier side, but for those who consider buying the best PSUs as a form of investment, you’d be hard-pressed to find something better.

Key Features:

  • High efficiency rating
  • Impressive benchmarks
  • Semi-passive cooling mode is optional
  • Long warranty
  • Fully modular

2. Corsair Model SF750

  • Creator: Great Wall
  • Wattage Capacity: 750W
  • Efficiency Rating: 80 PLUS Platinum (88%-91% Efficiency)
  • Form Factor Type: SFX (EPS 2.92)
  • Cooling System: Rifle Bearing type 92mm (NR092L)
  • Cabling System: Fully modular
  • Warranty Time: 10 years

If you’re in the market for a high-quality, compact PSU, then the SF750 is for you. In terms of efficiency, its Cybernetics and 80 PLUS Platinum certifications ensure that the model runs at optimum levels. This means that it can handle heavier loads while maintaining quieter noise levels.

All of this unit’s cables are modular, with EPS connectors inside an SFX model. The number of cables the SF750 sports is fairly impressive considering its size, all of which have individual sleeves with no in-line capping. It is, however, expensive, and one downside of its cooling system is that you can put it out of semi-passive.

Key Features:

  • Good ripple suppression
  • Low noise levels
  • Fully modular
  • Extensive Load Regulation

3. Seasonic Model SSR-600TL

  • Creator: Seasonic
  • Wattage Capacity: 600W
  • Efficiency Rating: 80 PLUS Titanium
  • Form Factor Type: ATX12V (EPS 2.92, v2.4)
  • Cooling System: Passive
  • Cabling System: Modular
  • Warranty Time: 12 years

When passive cooling comes into play, the SSR-600TL is your best bet. It’s overall performance and high efficiency makes sure that your unit maintains safe heat levels despite having a larger wattage capacity.

Because of its level of efficiency, this model can accomplish lower rates in energy usage, allowing more power delivery without any active cooling systems in place. This is perfect if you don’t want any noise coming out of your gaming rig, or maybe for special purposes like a studio recording.

It is, however, a bit pricey, and the distance of its peripheral connectors is not ideal. In terms of transient performance, it only scored decently. But these minor flaws are easily forgiven for the impressive features that it has.

Key Features:

  • Extremely silent
  • Efficient power consumption
  • Rarely reaches high temps
  • A good number of connectors
  • 12-year warranty

4. Corsair Model RM550x

  • Creator: CWT
  • Wattage Capacity: 550W
  • Efficiency Rating: 80 Plus Gold (88%-91% Efficiency)
  • Form Factor Type: (ATX12V EPS 2.92, v2.4)
  • Cooling System: Rifle Bearing type, 135mm (NR135L)
  • Cabling System: Modular
  • Warranty Time: 10 years

If your gaming system requires 500W power, then the RM550x might just fit the bill. For load regulation and ripple suppression, this unit performs considerably well, and it excels in terms of its transient load performance. Even under heavy load, it barely makes any sound due to its high efficiency and good-quality fan.

A few disadvantages of this unit are that it’s on the pricey side, and it doesn’t feature a test button for its fans, unlike other new models. The distance of its Molex connectors is also less than optimal.

Key Features:

  • Stays at 48°C even at full power
  • High power consumption efficiency
  • Low noise levels
  • Good capping
  • Fully modular

5. Seasonic Model SSR-750PX

  • Creator: Seasonic
  • Wattage Capacity: 750W
  • Efficiency Rating: 80 PLUS Platinum (88%-91% Efficiency)
  • Form Factor Type: ATX12V (EPS 2.92, v2.4)
  • Cooling System: FDB type, 120mm (HA1225M12F-Z)
  • Cabling System: Fully Modular
  • Warranty Time: 10 years

The SSR-750PX is perfect if you’re looking for a decently priced PSU that offers strong performance. Because of its high efficiency in terms of power consumption, it can run at maximum power at a mere 47°C. Its fan sports a quiet cooling operation that you can barely hear, which is impressive considering the compact size of the unit.

It is capable of handling beefy gaming rigs with powerful GPUs. It also works well with more business-oriented systems because of its EPS cables that can give CPUs the power they need. All in all, the SSR-750PX offers a huge bang for your back, offering solid performance at an affordable price.

Key Features:

  • Stays at 47°C even at full power
  • High power consumption efficiency
  • Runs quietly
  • Compact size
  • 10-year warranty

6. Corsair Model AX850

  • Creator: Seasonic
  • Wattage Capacity: 850W
  • Efficiency Rating: 80 PLUS Titanium (91%-94% Efficiency)
  • Form Factor Type: ATX12V (EPS 2.92, v2.4)
  • Cooling System: FDB Type, 135mm (HA13525L12F-Z)
  • Cabling System: Fully modular
  • Warranty Time: 10 years

For those who are willing to splurge on a good investment, the AX850 is a good choice. Its performance in all these areas is top-notch: efficiency, ripple suppression, transient response, and load regulation. Its fans are also barely audible even under heavy load.

A few minor drawbacks are that its peripheral connectors should have been closer together, and its minor rails’ triggering points would have been better if they were a bit lower. Its EPS connectors also should have sported gauges of 16AWG

Key Features:

  • Good Performance
  • Low noise levels
  • Ten Year Warranty
  • Fully Modular

7. Bitfenix Model BF450G

Product Specifications

  • Creator: Channel Well Technology
  • Wattage Capacity: 450W
  • Efficiency Rating: 80 PLUS Gold (88%-91% Efficiency)
  • Form Factor: ATX12V (EPS 2.92, v2.4)
  • Cooling System: Rifle Bearing type, 120mm (DF1202512SELN)
  • Cabling System: Fixed
  • Warranty Time: 5 years

This compact model from Bitfenix is suitable for builders who are on a budget but don’t want to compromise on quality.

It’s efficiency ratings ensure that your gaming rig gets the most power with low losses. And despite having active cooling, it doesn’t create a lot of noise. Cable management might be a bit more complicated because of its fixed cabling system, though. Its power factor is also on the low end, so this range may not suit gamers with energy-demanding rigs.

However, this is a great choice if 450W is more than enough for your system. It is very efficient and quiet, all inside a compact frame that won’t take up much space.

Key Features:

  • Stays at 46°C even at full power
  • Impressive Efficiency
  • Good load regulation and ripple suppression
  • Compact size
  • Low noise levels

8. Corsair Model AX1600i

  • Creator: Flextronics
  • Wattage Capacity: 1600W
  • Efficiency Rating: 80 PLUS Titanium
  • Form Factor Type: ATX12V (EPS 2.92, v2.4)
  • Cooling System: FDB type, 140mm (NR140P)
  • Cabling System: Fully Modular
  • Warranty Time: 10 years

If you have a beast of a gaming computer that needs all the power it can get, the AX1600i is a great choice. It is incredibly efficient in terms of power usage, sporting a rating of 80 PLUS platinum. During testing, the unit showed great performance in terms of load regulation, hold-up times, ripple suppression, and transient response. One minor drawback we’ve found is that the distance between its peripheral connectors is too small.

It also performed well during benchmarking, and during operation, it had barely noticeable noise levels. If you can afford something more expensive to complete our powerful game system, then this model from Corsair will meet all your needs.

Key Features:

  • Stays at 46°C even at full power
  • Efficient and powerful
  • Low noise levels
  • Caps are of high-quality
  • Fully modular
  • Many connectors
  • High-quality fan

Conclusion

A PSU is an integral part of any gaming system, greatly influencing its efficiency, reliability, and lifespan. This is why you need to consider all your needs and weigh in all your options when choosing a PSU for your rig. Remember to find a PSU that meets the power requirements of your build, features high efficiency and performance, and has safety measures or warranties to ensure that you don’t need to spend more money in the event of an accident.

 

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