The PSU Problem – What Power Supply to Buy.
More often than not you come upon a computer problem that you can’t seem to figure out why a computer reboots that isn’t overheating; a hard drive that seems to be performing below standard without any clear reason.
One of the most common causes of computer problems is a low quality power supply.
I took my experience, and that of others, across the net to bring you a general guide to what power supplies to buy.
A Power Supply Unit (or PSU for short), is probably one of the most important parts of a computer.
Having too low wattage can cause problems with devices that will not receive enough power; poor quality PSU’s can cause shorts or surges in the system, which can lead to damage to sensitive components such as motherboards; therefore, choosing the right power supply is a must for any computer technician to ensure that a PC runs smoothly and safely.
General Information on how PSU’s work:
The Power Supply Unit’s purpose is converting AC (Alternating Current) from your house electricity to DC (Direct Current), which is used by the computer. A PSU also converts or ‘switches’ the DC current to lower voltages for the various components inside the computer (3.3 volts, 5 volts, 12 volts, etc). Newer “ATX” PSU’s (which are the standard now) have a special standby power circuit for the power switch in order to allow the motherboard to detect the power switch being turned on.
Choosing the size of a PSU:
One of the first considerations when buying a PSU is its purpose; are you planning on putting it into a low-end office computer, or a high-end gaming setup?
Standard computers are those used for light gaming, office usage, browsing, etc. These computers usually lack a graphics card, and run on a Dual Core or an equivalent CPU. A quality 200 to 350 watt PSU is usually sufficient.
A more game-related computer with upgrades and a low- to medium-range graphics card falls into the second category; with a dual core or quad core processor this usually requires at least a 350 watt up to a 500 watt PSU depending on the power necessities, especially of the graphics card.
With the serious gamer comes a serious gaming computer, and that requires a PSU with more power. A computer with a quad core CPU (such as i5), a high-end graphics card; overclocking and high-end applications, or games, usually requires a PSU of 500W to 700W of a high quality PSU.
When adding additional components such as dual graphics cards (SLI or Crossfire), can require PSU’s above 700 watts; these are usually reserved for the ultra high performance user, in normal circumstances you would probably fine with a quality 700 watt PSU for SLI or Crossfire and an i7 or equivalent modern generation CPU.
Calculating the size of a PSU to use:
The best way to determine what the size requirement, for the present and future upgrades, for your computer is to use a Power Supply Calculator.
Power Supply Calculators are useful tools for the end user to work out what PSU is the best for the system intended. Although there are many of them on the internet, there are a few that are recommended by professionals:
Choosing the Brand of a PSU:
Although there are many brands on the market, many of them are cheap manufacturers that cut corners mass producing low-quality power supplies that are no good for computers or their users.
Although there are thousands of well-known brands and recommendations on the internet, there are a few that stand out.
Generally, brands such as Seasonic™, Thermaltake™, Corsair™, Coolermaster™ and XFX are better ones to look at.
Here at TSF, the general recommendation is for SeaSonic™ and XFX™ PSU’s; however, an extensive list of several brands and their usage, has been compiled in an article, available here for reference and reading.
Choosing a high quality, brand-name PSU is always a better choice than going for the cheaper makes. You might pay more, but it’ll save money in the future preventing damages.
Often underappreciated and considered, Power Supply Units are probably one of the most important parts in a computer; buying cheap means affecting your own computer’s livelihood and quality; therefore, making the right choice for a quality PSU is paramount.