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Buying a new PSU

Power Supply Unit – Buying a new PSU

Choosing the right PSUBekijk in het NederlandsWhen 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

Avoid Bad PSUPower 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!

Burn power supply unitIn 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.

Find out which PSU to buy and which brand of power supply to avoid…

Bad and good brands for your PSU

Power Supply Unit – Which brand to avoid when buying a PSU

Antec great PSU brandBekijk in het NederlandsWhen buying a new PSU you must consider several things, including the brand. Simply put, there are good PSU’s and bad power supplies. It just so happens that most of the good ones fall in the same group of brands, where most of the bad computer power supplies fall in a different group of brands. This results in a list of bad and good brands when it comes to your computer power supply. If you want to avoid destroying your computer due to a bad PSU, or want to buy something that will last longer than a year, you may want to spend the few extra bucks and get a AAA brand PSU instead of the cheapest one available.

PSU brands – which to avoid and which are great!

When you look at problems people tend to have with their power supply you see certain brands pop up a lot more than others. In addition, these brands tend to come up as well when you look at PSU’s failing after a year or something comparable.

Brands to avoid when buying your PSU:

Brands to avoid when buying a PSU  
A-TOP Technology Apevia
APEX Aspire
ATADC Athena Power
ATRIX Broadway Com Corp
Deer Diablotek
Dynapower USA Dynex
EagleTech FOXCONN
FSP Everest HEC Orion
Hiper Type-R Huntkey
I-Star Computer Co. Ltd In Win
JPAC COMPUTER Just PC
Kingwin Inc. Linkworld Electronics
Logisys Computer MGE
MSI NMEDIAPC
Norwood Micro/ CompUSA NorthQ
NZXT Okia
Powmax Q-Tec
Raidmax Rocketfish
Rosewill SFC
Shuttle Skyhawk
Spire Coolers Star Micro
STARTECH TOPOWER TOP
XION YoungYear
Zebronics

 

The same goes for positive reactions and long lasting power supplies. Several brands tend to be really reliable and their PSU’s seem to last much longer than cheaper brands.

Brands to look at when buying your computer power supply unit:

Top Notch Power Supply Unit brands  
Antec Corsair
Enermax Kingwin
PCP&C Sapphire
Seasonic Silverstone
Seventeam XFX
Zippy

 

Great PSU brands  
Akasa CoolMax
Cooler Master Cooltek
Cougar Enhance
EVGA Fortron
iStarUSA LEPA
OCZ PC P&C Silencer
Rosewill Sentey
SevenTeam Supermicro/AbleCom
Thermaltake Thortech
Topower Xclio StablePower
Xigmatek Zalman

Besides avoiding certain brands of PSU’s or looking at quality brands for computer power supply units there is more to it than that. Power supplies can get certificates which show you just how well they perform consumption wise. A power supply tens to lose some of its power to heat, thus resulting in more power consumed than put to good use. This is where the certificates come in.

Read more on picking a good computer power supply and PSU certificates

PSU certifications and efficiency

Power Supply Unit – Efficiency and certification

PSU 80 PLUS certificationBekijk in het NederlandsAs said before, power supply units tend to lose some of its power to heat production. This results in less power put to good use compared to the power that is drawn from your socket. PSU certifications show you just how well your PSU should perform.

Power Supply Unit efficiency

There are several different kinds of certifications for PSU’s. The normal 80 PLUS certification means that a certain PSU efficiently uses 80% of the power consumed at 20% load, 50% load and 100% load. Every PSU loses power to heat and 80% efficiency is actually pretty good. There are of course power supplies that go over the 80% and those gain other certificates. In all there are 6 kinds of 80 PLUS PSU certifications to be had, where each they all indicate a certain degree of efficiency of the power supply unit.

 

PSU 80 PLUS Certificates

PSU Certification standards

As you can see it goes up all the way to over 90% efficiency, which is pretty incredible, but is not that much of a necessity for the average consumer. Anything with an 80 PLUS certification or 80 PLUS bronze should do more than well for your computer and basically tells you that you are buying a decent PSU.

Besides efficiency there are of course more things to look at when buying a power supply unit. One of things is a modular design.

Read more on modular designs and getting the right PSU for your computer!

Modular power supply units

Power Supply Unit – Modular PSU’s

Modular PSUBekijk in het NederlandsSo we have discussed some brands to avoid and some brands to definitely consider when buying a power supply unit as well as some certifications modern PSU’s should have, but besides that is of course also something as usability. A very important factor for any PSU is that it should have all the connections your computer needs. Every basic PSU has connectors for your motherboard, a harddisk and an optical drive, but if you are using a lot of different expansion slots – like an advanced graphics card – you better make sure it has the connections needed for that card. Modular Power Supply Units can help you there.

What are Modular Power Supply Units?

With standard PSU’s all cables are attached to the unit at all times. If you are not using some of those cables they are just hanging there, cluttering your case and reducing your airflow. For basic users this is not a big problem, but for the more advanced users this can be very annoying. Another annoyance can be upgrading. When you buy new components and find out that your PSU does not have any free power cables for that specific component anymore, you can basically buy a new power supply unit. There is however a solution for these problems; Modular Power supply units.

Modular Power Supply UnitModular PSU’s only feature the basic elements permanently, like a cord for your motherboard. The rest of the wires are optional and can be freely switched in and out. This removes unnecessary cables in your computer case, and allows you to switch cables when your need for connections changes. These modular PSU’s usually are bit higher prices, but that small amount of extra cost can sure make a big difference.

Getting a modular PSU or a regular power supply unit is something to keep in mind when buying a new PSU for your computer.

To get an overview of what to consider when buying a new power supply unit I took the liberty of writing a quick summary on the different aspects of buying a PSU – read on to find out more.

Help buying a new power supply unit

Power Supply Unit – Buying a new PSU overview

What to look for in a PSUBekijk in het NederlandsWhen you are buying a new PSU we have seen several things you should keep in mind. Below is a quick overview of what to look for in a power supply unit.

Computer power consumption

The first thing you should look at is the amount of power your computer will be consuming, and attune your power supply unit to that number. To find out the power needed you can look at each individual component and find out how much power they consume, or use one of the several online tools to get a good estimate. Asking an expert is of course usually best, especially if you are pretty new at this. Although more power ensures your computer of the needed power, it is unwise to go too far above your needs, since this will cost you more money when  buying the PSU, as well as in the electric bill in the end. I have a pretty high end system with a hexa-core processor and a very decent graphics card, several hard disks and enough memory to make it all run smoothly and I am only using a 550 Watt power supply unit.

You can read more on PSU efficiency and minimizing power consumption here

PSU brands

The second thing to keep in mind when buying a new computer power supply unit is the brand you are buying. There are several brands you should avoid. On the flipside: there are a lot of brands known for their quality products and long lasting PSU’s. Here is an overview of quality power supply unit brands.

Modular Power Supply Unit

The third thing to keep in mind is wether you have or need all the connections on a PSU. Make sure you can connect all your components using the proper cables and connectors, and minimize the amount of cables not used. For an optimal effect you may consider buying a modular PSU.

Besides all this, you can also choose for a power supply unit with built in lights to create certain effects in your computer case, but this of course totally optional.

I hope this information was helpful for those about to buy a PSU and you will make the right choice for your computer’s power supply unit.

Any questions or comments? Drop them in the comments sections below and I will get back to you as soon as possible! Enjoy!