When you are buying a new computer, or building your own from scratch you want it to be as good as possible for as little money as possible. Depending on your needs and budget, a new computer can range anywhere from €150,- to €1500,-. Most of that money is spent on the core components like the CPU, GPU and memory. This is fine as they are very important parts of your computer, but one important component is usually overlooked. The PSU, or power supply unit, is of vital importance to your computer and can greatly harm or even destroy your new computer rig when the wrong choices are made. Which PSU should you buy and which PSU should you avoid? I will try to answer those questions below.
Why Power Supply Units are important
PSU’s, or power supply units come in various shapes and sizes, but also in very different price ranges. Picking a good power supply unit can be a though one, since the speficications of a PSU are so different from any other specifications related to computers. If you know your way around Ghz, cores, clockspeed, gDDR5 and so it is very well possible that you still do not know a lot about Watt, volts, lanes and other power supply slang. You may also not be aware of how much power your computer actually needs. Most people, and manufacturers go for the lowest amount of power needed in the cheapest case. Although the first can’t really do any harm, the cheapest brand can destroy your computer in the long run.
The dangers of a bad PSU
Power supplies for computers advertise a certain range of power they are able to supply to your computer system. This amount should be more or equal to the amount of power your computer consumes at maximum workload. In general, all PSU’s provide the amount of power they advertise with in the beginning, but this is where it gets interesting. Cheap brands power supplies tend to lose power over time. This may not be noticed straigt away because your computer does not use all the power your PSU provides, or is not working at its maximum workload often, but as your PSU slips underneath the power threshold your computer needs, or your computer suddenly demands more power because of a heavy workload – playing games or crunching lots of numbers for example – you may experience a sudden loss of power resulting in an unexpected reboot of your computer. If this happens once, it is annoying. You usually have no idea why it happened and no error or bluescreen of death is presented. Your computer just powers down ands starts booting up again as if nothing had happened. As your PSU degrades further this tends to happen more often.
This happened to very often a few years back. Especially when I was playing a game, which requires my graphical unit to really crunch to the limit, thus requiring a lot power, my computer tended to lose power or shut down. At first I thought it was the graphics unit itself and replaced it. Luckilly for me it was time for a replacement anyway, but the problem stayed the same. After examining my computer for days, running all kinds of tests and looking at various error logs I was unable to find what was wrong with it. After a while i replaced my power unit after finding some leads to how crappy my PSU was supposed to be and voila, no more problems – ever!
In addition to losing power over time, bad PSU’s can simply destroy your computer because of malfunctions. A power spike, short circuiting or random malfunctions can literally fry your valuable equipment by overloading them with power – something most high-tech components cannot handle very well. You can guard yourself from this by buying a PSU which has the proper protection in place for this. This will not guarantee that nothing can ever go wrong, but will greatly reduce the chance of this ever happening to your computer.
My power supply turned out to be from a very cheap brand and was known for loosing power over time. I did some research and found out there was much difference between different power supplies. Not only did I find several things to keep in mind when buying a new computer power supply, but I also find several brands to absolutely avoid and several PSU brands which tend to be way better than others.