Best Power Supply for Gaming 2018
Being a PC gamer you will know very well how critical it is to power your computer and how perplexing it can be. Since the past few years, the power supply units have shown a high level of progress. Now you can find power supplies from 300 watts to 1600 watts, which can easily power even the heaviest of your gaming rigs.
But, with the markets flooding with beginner to highly advanced level power supply units, it is quite easy to get completely overwhelmed by the abundance of choice. If you are also one of those people who can’t decide which one is going to be the best investment for them then don’t worry. Keeping in mind all levels of gamers, we have compiled a list of the best power supplies for gaming available on the market.
Scroll down, have a look, and pick yours now.
2017's top picks of the Best Power Supply for Gaming
- 1. Corsair CX Series, CX600M, 600 Watt (600W), Semi Modular Power Supply
- 2. EVGA SuperNOVA 1600W P2 80+ PLATINUM, Fully Modular NVIDIA SLI and Crossfire Ready
- 3. EVGA 500 W1, 80+ WHITE 500W, Power Supply
- 4. SilverStone Technology 450W SFX Form Factor 80 PLUS BRONZE Power Supply
- 5. Thermaltake SMART M 650W 80 PLUS BRONZE Full Modular Power Supply
- 6. EVGA 750 GQ, 80+ GOLD 750W, Semi Modular, Power Supply
- 7. EVGA SuperNOVA 850 G2 80+ GOLD 850W, Fully Modular Power Supply
- 8. Thermaltake Smart M 1000W 80+ Bronze Semi-Modular ATX 12V Power Supply
- 9. FSP Group PT FM series 1200W Platinum Certified Active PFC Power Supply
- 10. Corsair AX1500i, 1500 Watt , Fully Modular Digital Power Supply
Gaming Supply Buyers Guide Questions
What is a Power Supply for Gaming?
A power supply unit, or PSU for short, is a very crucial part of your gaming PC. You would also have heard of it as a power converter or power pack. A power supply is generally a hardware tool or device that takes the power from the power source and then transforms it into the operational power to be used by your gaming PC.
There are many parts inside the gaming PC that run on the power delivered by the power supply unit. The device generally transforms the AC (alternating current) into an unbroken and constant power called DC (direct current), which is usually required by the gaming PC for running a smooth action.
The power supply unit also regulates the voltage, which results in preventing the PC from getting overheated. The voltage is automatically adjusted according to the fluctuation in the main power supply. Without using a power supply unit, these fluctuations may end up in frying your PC completely. Therefore, it can’t be taken lightly. These would make great gifts for any gamer.
Can the Power Supply Affect Performance?
A power supply unit holds a critical importance in a gaming PC. It doesn’t really affect the performance in a positive way, but if your power supply is not strong enough to run your system properly, it can leave a highly negative effect on your system.
A power supply with lesser than required power will just not work for the whole system in the first place. And even if, by some miracle, it works, it would put your system to huge risk. Your graphic cards are not going to run on it and if you try to do so, you may end up damaging them. Similarly, it won’t be able to handle any graphically heavy app as well.
On the other hand, having a power supply with a higher wattage than needed, although, doesn’t show any performance benefits. But, it does have its perks which ultimately lead to overall great gaming performance. Here, have a look.
Optimum Gaming Experience
For keeping your gaming PC and all the system intact and running for a long time period, you need to have a power supply unit. The PSU provides your PC with a steady power which keeps it running smoothly and hence will make your gaming experience more fun and improved.
Guards PC Against Damages
Since a power supply unit provides the required amount of continuous power to your system, it automatically guards it against any kind of damage. For example, if you are using very premium quality graphics cards that need very high power, your application is going to be damaged if your cards fail to receive the required amount of power.
Decreases Electricity Bills
The advanced level gamers would know very well how easily their electric bills can spike up due to their power hungry gear. For such cases, an 80 Plus certified power supply unit helps a great deal in decreasing the amount of power that usually gets lost due to all the heating. So, if you want to continue your gaming without receiving those unbelievable electricity bills, you know what you need.
For Future Upgrades
If you decide to go for a slightly advanced model than your requirement, it can prove to be a very worthy investment for the future. Over the time, everybody keeps upgrading their gaming gears to the latest ones. An upgrade in the gear would also need an upgrade in the power supply unit for obvious reasons.
But, if you have already invested in a modern and bigger power supply unit, you will have no problem in upgrading your system at all.
What kind of power supply is needed for gaming?
The kind of power supply you need entirely depends on your own rig and system. Several factors play a key role in that. The following points will lead you to the kind needed by your system.
For obvious reasons, one of the most important factors to be taken into consideration while picking a power supply unit is its wattage. The wattage or power of the PSU is generally indicated on the box itself. For choosing the right amount of wattage, you first need to figure out the highest amount of wattage your system requires.
Now, don’t worry about it, it’s not like you have to manually do that on your own. You will find a lot of power supply calculators available online on which you can do that.
Once you have calculated the total power required by your PC, you will have a clearer picture of the power supply unit that you should go for. However, one thing that you must keep in mind is that you must always keep some upper margin while choosing your power supply, like say around 20-25% will be fine.
This means, that if as per the calculations, your PC needs 400 watts of power, you should at least get yourself a PSU of 500 to 550 watts. More is better but make sure to not get the exact same wattage as you got in your calculations.
Not that it is going to have much impact on your current gaming, but it is a way of securing yourself for the future. Like if in a few months, if you decide to run your processor or graphics card, they will end up in increasing the amount of total wattage consumption. Therefore, you must always keep some scope for any such future possibility.
One thing that needs to be kept in mind is that contrary to the common belief, the wattage mentioned on the power supply unit is not necessarily drawn from your power source in the exact same amount. The number on the box basically indicates the maximum amount of wattage it can provide.
This means if you have bought a 1000 watt PSU, it won’t persistently draw 1000 watts of power from your power source. Rather, it means that it can provide a maximum limit of 1000 watts whenever required. And generally speaking, these PC’s do not need that kind of high wattage for extended time periods.
Therefore, considering all the above things that we just told, you must keep in mind two things when you search through the power supply unit. And those two things are Constant wattage and highest wattage. As mentioned above, the wattage mentioned on the power supply units is the highest wattage they can draw.
On the other hand, the constant wattage is the average wattage that you can get from a power supply at an almost constant rate. And this wattage is generally not mentioned on your PSU. Always keep in mind that a power supply unit doesn’t just shoot up to the highest point for no reason. It happens quite infrequently, even if you are using high powered games or apps.
Usually, a 550-600watts PSU is enough for anyone who just uses a single graphic card with a couple of devices for storage. However, if you are planning to use more than one graphic cards then you should get yourself a PSU with at least 1000watts of highest power. Lastly, for those of you who use highly power consuming gears, a 1200-1600 watts power supply unit would be enough for your needs.
Always bear in your mind that the higher wattage doesn’t mean better performance. It is absurd to get a 1200watts PSU if your entire rig requires only 550 watts at most. Therefore, do not try to keep excessive margin by going for a model with double the wattage you need. Just make sure what you have selected is ample for supporting your entire gear and that’s it.
A lot of you make the similar mistake of paying all the attention to just the wattage while completely ignoring the rails. That’s surely not how it is supposed to be. Although, it is true that the maximum power indicated on the PSU pretty much gives us the fair and true idea about the highest number of watts we can get from it. But, the rails on your PSU also have a lot to do with obtaining the maximum wattage.
For those of you, who are unaware of this term, a voltage rail is basically a solo voltage delivered by the power supply unit. On these PSUs, you are going to see 3 major voltage rails that include 3.3V, 5V and 12V rail. The last one, i.e. the 12V one holds a very high level of importance because it has the power to run all of the key components in your gaming gear.
You can simply check about the rails by going through the complete specification list of the PSU in which all the rails are mentioned in amperes. While on your pursuit, you will also come across PSUs with one to several voltage rails. But, this isn’t something that should make you baffled at all, especially in the modern day power supply units, because it is pretty common.
All you should keep in mind is that the voltage rails on your selected power supply unit must be adequate enough, in fact, a bit more than adequate, to run your system smoothly.
80 Plus Certification and Efficiency
You might have seen this term “80 plus” mentioned on the containers of the power supply units more than once. And with that 80 plus you would have seen other different kinds of terminologies like 80 plus bronze or platinum or gold etc. So, what does this certification mean? Well, if you don’t know, it simply indicates the level of efficiency of the PSU.
A few years ago, it wasn’t a norm by the companies to test the PSUs for checking the level of their efficiency. However, a few companies started checking that to make sure that their PSUs which they are sending off for selling are safe enough and compatible to be used by all kinds of PC systems. This is how the 80 plus certification was introduced.
But, it doesn’t actually tell how and on what basis some power supply units get this certification. And how exactly is the efficiency level tested? Well, don’t worry; we are going to make all of that clear to you as well. To start off, the companies use various percentages of loads for checking out the efficiency of the PSU.
You have to keep in your mind that the efficiency of the PSU doesn’t stay similar throughout and fluctuates according to the load. Now, for receiving the 80 Plus certification, the power supply unit, at its highest wattage, has to show 80% of efficiency at a load of 20 percent, 50 percent, and 100 percent.
As far as the name of the metal in this term is concerned, it simply indicates how highly efficient the PSU will be highly at the given loads. For example, the PSU with 80 Plus Gold certification is going to be 87 percent efficient at the minimum and the highest load.
Now if you are wondering how is that of any help or concern to you? Then let us clear that as well. In simple words, an efficient PSU will save up on your electricity bill. Although the amount saved wouldn’t be drastically high, but that’s how you save up, a little from here and a little from there.
Moreover, going for the power supply unit with 80 Plus certification will also make sure that your system will always receive the indispensable amount of power it needs for running. Therefore, whatever you do, just do not skip this important feature while selecting your PSU.
Modularity is yet another term you would have come across while searching for power supply units but not all of you would actually know what it means. Doesn’t matter because we are here to take care of that! Ok, so in modularity, there are usually two terms that you will see on the packaging of the PSUs, the fully modular PSU, and the semi-modular PSU.
Basically, the power supply unit’s modularity can be divided into 3 different kinds: the entirely modular power supply, semi-modular power supply, and non-modular power supply. In a non-modular power supply unit, all of the wires and cables are connected directly to the unit. This means that all of the wires are non-removable. This type of PSU can be quite a nuisance for people due to the heavy need of wire management.
In a semi-modular PSU, all the essential wires are directly attached to the unit, just like in the non-modular version. But, other than the essential cables, the optional ones are easily removable. This makes the usage pretty convenient because you don’t have to deal with the cables that are not even being used.
Surely, you would have gotten a pretty much fair idea about the fully modular PSUs by now, but let us explain that as well, just in case. The fully modular PSUs do not have any built-in cables attached to them, which is why they are completely modular.
These PSUs are relatively pricier in comparison to the other two versions. But, it’s understandable considering the level of flexibility they provide you. You can actually remove every single cable from these PSUs. This means you do not have to hang on to even a single additional cable that is not being in use at the moment.
Brand Name and Other Features
The power supply unit isn’t something that you can buy from anywhere or from any obscure manufacturer. This is something your whole PC is going to depend on so make sure to get it from a renowned and esteemed manufacturer. And this isn’t something to be treated as an option, this is simply a MUST.
Buying it from a well-known manufacturer will make sure that the product is reliable. Secondly and quite importantly, a PSU from a famous brand will also come with some really amazing warranties and exceptional customer support. Generally, these PSUs come with a minimum warranty of 3 years. And it can get higher with various models and manufacturers.
Unlike before, the PSUs these days come with a very robust construction and high level of durability. If you go few years down the memory lane, you’d recall the days when it was considered to be such a risky move to get a PSU for your system. The PSUs back then could not only fry your system but even your house.
But thankfully, with the advent of special protection technologies in the power supply units by reputable companies, these dangers have completely diminished. These special guarding mechanisms ensure that the unit only provides the power within the said limits. Good companies put special protection instruments for guarding your PC against overload, overcurrent, and high temperatures.
On the other hand, a cheap PSU from an unknown brand will not have any of these features. So, if you don’t want to put your PC or house on fire, stay away from those. Another thing to be kept in mind is that you do not necessarily have to pick a power supply unit with way excessive power than you need. Just make sure it is adequate enough for your system while keeping a slight margin.
How Much Power do You Need for Gaming?
We can’t stress enough on the importance of a power supply unit for your gaming PC. And that too of a very good quality because inferior quality ones will not be able to take the load well and will put an unnecessary burden on the system. And in extreme cases, they can even completely destroy your precious gear.
As mentioned above as well, for figuring out the amount of power you need for gaming, you can simply use the online power supply calculators. But as we emphasized earlier as well, do not just go for a PSU with the exact same wattage that your PC requires. You need to keep some additional room to be on the safe side so that it can come in handy in future as well.
Now how to calculate the power through these calculators is a pretty straight forward process, so don’t feel intimidated at all. You don’t have to manually do anything. These calculators will ask you each and everything about your system to your graphic cards to your connected devices. All you have to do is read the question and select the option applicable to you and that’s it.
Generally, if you are going to do a single GPU construction, you can use a PSU with at least 600watts of power. And for a bit high-quality system, the ideal PSU would have the wattage of 650-700watts. Secondly, for dual SLI gears, a minimum of 750 watts is good enough. This means that you shouldn’t go below 750 and anything above that would be fine.
The minimum amount of required wattage also depends greatly on the additional devices that you are going to add to the PC. So, be mindful that we are just giving you a fair idea for eyeballing it on your own. This doesn’t in any way mean that the figures we have given would accurately work for every one of you. Therefore, you have to calculate it yourself according to your rig.
Presumably, if you have already made such purchases and have already used dual SLI gear, you would have a fairer idea of what you are going to need. And for those of you, for whom it is going to be the first time, you should stick to the calculators.
What Other Components are Required With the Power Supply?
The other major components that are required in the power supply unit for putting it in the running condition include the following:
- Power plug connection.
- Voltage selection switch.
- Power supply fan to keep the ventilation going.
- Main on/off switch.
- Various connectors for all the devices.
- ATX connector for the motherboard.
Without the above-mentioned components, the power supply unit will not be able to function. If you want to learn about the maintenance of your PSU and rig, check out https://www.reddit.com/r/buildapc/comments/1yg8xg/dos_donts_and_tips_for_first_time_bulders/.
Which One to Go For?
Our top pick is the Corsair CX600M because of its high usability for the majority of the gamers. It is a perfect option for you if you are in between the level of beginner and enthusiast gamer. This unit provides an exceptional and efficient performance at a very reasonable price. And its high compatibility makes it an ideal choice for everyone.
The EVGA superNOVA 1600 P2 takes the spot of our premium choice PSU because of a lot of reasons. If you are a true enthusiast gamer, you wouldn’t find anything better than this baby. The superNOVA 1600 P2 is not just highly efficient; it is highly durable as well. And it works equally well at all levels of loads.
Lastly, if you are under a tight budget but are looking for a high-quality PSU for your beginner to mid-range rig, then we’d suggest you go for our great value choice, the EVGA 500 W1. With a consistent power of 500 watts along with a sleek design and high-efficiency level, this unit is too good for its price.