If you’re building a basic desktop or a power-house gaming PC, choosing the right PSU for your PC is an important decision, so it’s as good a time as any to look at how choosing the right PSU for you is paramount.
When it comes to the task of building your new PC, there are some really exciting decisions that are going to have an instant effect on your system. The main ones are usually the processor and the video card, with the motherboard a not far behind; people worry over what part to choose in order to get the most of out of their new build.
Compared to these eye-catching pieces of kit, the modest power supply – just as essential, but a little on the boring side – can often get overlooked in terms of research and impact.
However, choosing the right PSU can have a enormous impact on your next build – and many builds after, too, as this is one part that, like monitors, can often carry over from one PC to the next. So you should really make the right choice first time. You’ll end up with improved performance, and a component that will last through multiple upgrades and builds. Here’s our advice on what to look for when you’re in the market for more power.
The ATX form factor is the industry standard these days, and while that means its width and height, not to mention mounting-screw placement, are locked in – and compatible with all ATX case designs – the form factor can vary in depth. If you’ve got a full-size desktop tower, you’re probably not going to have to fear about room, but smaller cases will often require a shorter PSU design, so as to leave room for neat cabling. In some shorter case designs, longer PSUs will even get in the way of optical drive cables.
The ‘standard’ drive depth is around 150mm deep, though supplies with a higher wattage will be an inch or two deeper. Always make sure you know the room you’ll be working with in any build, and choose an appropriate PSU.
Fan placement and size is something you’ll want to pay attention to as well. Smaller fans will have to spin faster to push more hot air out of the PSU, and will therefore be noisier. Larger fans, up to 140mm in diameter, spin slower and are therefore quieter.
If you want a quiet system, this is definitely important, but larger fans usually vent into your PC’s case. You’ll need to make sure there’s room enough for adequate exhausting, as well as make sure that the cooling within your case are up to the task of dealing with the extra hot air.
You’ll need to choose a PSU that’s up to the task of powering all your components, with enough space to take care of any future upgrades, though with PC parts becoming more and more efficient, this is less of a worry these days.
If you’re running powerful parts, you’ll also need a basic understanding of the individual ‘rails’ within your PSU. Some designs offer a single rail, others multiple rails, with different amps on each. Your video card specs, if it’s powerful enough, will often call for a recommended power supply wattage that can help you choose the right PSU. If you have a powerful CPU and video card, you’ll want a PSU with dedicated rails for these parts.