8. Power Supply

Output Power

The power supply you choose should be sufficient to drive the hardware you have selected. Having multiple hard drives is the primary reason for opting for a higher wattage PSU. High end graphics cards are your second concern and finally fast DVD RWs and/or BlueRay burners will suck a lot of power during operation creating an overhead that your power supply must be able to handle. (Note to self: The PSU calculator sucks rectum. Need to write out a guide for this myself)


Power Consumption & Effiency

For most current builds a PSU with 500W is more than sufficient, with most people opting for 600W or even 700W PSUs. Its easy to WANT more power, because it sounds so cool :). However you must keep in mind that the bigger the PSU you choose, the more expensive its gonna be to run your computer 24/7. With a 300 W power supply a standard, no frills computer that is always running will cost you $35-$50 a month. (Note to self: A detailed calculation is needed here, explaining how to calculate this cost)

What Makes a Good PSU

This is a pretty technical subject. Most named PSUs are of decent quality and you should not fear buying a bad PSU, as long as it doesnt come in a unmarked white box and with no return warranty.

The whole game is played in the stability of the voltage that the PSU provides. The PSU gives the motherboard a +/-12 V rail and a +/- 5 V rail to run everything off of. (Note to self : check this is correct) The closer to these values the output voltage is, the better and more stable the computer will operate. Makes sense right? A clean signal is like a good breakfast for a computer.

Several new PSUs have stabilizing technologies that rectify the rails and some provide multiple rails for better voltage balancing. This means that the PSU has two seperate circuits providing the necessary output voltage, which sounds better than just one.

In all honesty, there is a lot of confusion in the scene about what actually gives you better computer operation. I will ask for your humble forgiveness, but I feel a rant comming on! I hope there is something useful in it for you:

My main home computer has a generic Antec power supply and it has frozen maybe twice in a year. Before that I have no idea what was in it, but it ran the computer 24/7 for 4 years before acting up for a couple of weeks before giving up. I never expected to not have to buy another PSU for it, since its the one component that never rests in a computer. Should I have paid more for a high end PSU? Would it have lasted longer? Would the computer have worked better? And what exactly would that mean? I would have had like… no lockups in 2 years in stead of 2? The PSU would have laster 6 years instead of 4? I havent found anyone that can answer this question for me to any satisfaction.

For the above purposes, you should not worry too much about the internal workings of a PSU. Pick a named brand like (OCZ, PCP&C, Enermax, Antec, etc) with a 50-100 more wattage than what you NEED, just for some buffering and for any new technologies you might add in the future. I found an excellent, albeit a bit too detailed list of good PSUs at xtremesystems, that I have copied here for you to look over.

Again, searching through Newegg’s most popular PSUs is the best way to pick a PSU, even if you’re not in the USA, you can identify the best products available on the market, that you can then find in your area.

PSU Ratings

— Shout out to Perkam at xtermesystems for sorting out this awsome list. — He and the boys over there are organizing a new list with rating the quality of a manufacturer’s products, so that we can rate them directly based on their work. That would be useful, as we wouldnt have to look up individual models anymore, since the manufacturer’s rating would carry most of the necessary information needed.

Here goes:

  • Tier 1 can handle 4Ghz Conroe or 3Ghz AMD along with Oced Quad Crossfire/SLI With Ease.
    • Tier Z offers quality and power unequalled in its wattage range and is second only to other Zippy units.
  • Tier 2 offers almost as much power and stability as Tier 1 at Comparable Wattage levels with lower price/better availability.
    • Tier T offers the high quality components of Tier 2 with slightly less Rail stability due to Topower internals.
  • Tier 3 is ONLY Recommended if Price difference is present between Tier 3 and Tier 2 or due to availability issues with Tier 1/2 PSUs.
  • Tier 4 is recommended for stock or low power systems if Tier 3’s are more expensive or are not available.
  • Tier 5 are NOT RECOMMENDED, but some brands have high/medium quality components in Tiers 2 through 4.


Tier 1 Brands – The Most Powerful And Stable Components On The Market
Enermax Galaxy
PCP&C TurboCool
PCP&C Silencer >610
Zippy/Emacs SSL
Zippy/Emacs GSM
Zippy/Emacs PSL
Silverstone ZF (Etasis 85/75/56)
Seventeam ST >600 (SSI, V2.91)
Silverstone OP/DA >700W

Tier Z – Less Powerful Than Tier 1 Zippy Units…but they’re still Zippys
Zippy/Emacs HG2
Zippy/Emacs HP2

Tier 2 Brands – Top Quality components With Top Notch Stability – For Those With Price/Availability Issues With Tier 1
Antec Neo HE
Akasa PowerGreen 80+
CoolMax CTG-750W/850W/1KW
Cooltek CT
Corsair HX
Enermax Liberty
Enermax Infiniti
Enhance ENP-GH
Fortron (FSP) GLN
Hiper Type-M >650W
Hiper Type-R >650W
iStarUSA PD2
iStarUSA PD3
OCZ GameXStream
OCZ EvoStream
PCP&C Silencer <610
Seasonic S12
Seasonic M12
Seasonic Energy Plus
SevenTeam ST <600
Silverstone EF
Silverstone OP/DA 600W
Xclio GreatPower
Zalman ZM
Ultra X3
Ultra X-Pro

Tier T – High Quality PSUs Made With Topower Internals – Less Rail Stability Compared To Tier 2 But Still Better than Tier 3
Mushkin Enhanced
Tagan U95
Tagan U25
Tagan U15
Tagan U22
OCZ PowerStream

Tier 3 Brands – High Quality and Stability, Second Only To Tier 2 Brands
Acbel Polycom
AMS Mercury
Akasa PaxPower
Akasa PowerPlus (>500W Models)
Antec Phantom
Antec TruePower III
Antec True Power II
Antec True Control II
Antec Neopower 480W (Old Model)
Antec Smart Power 2.0
Athena Power Space Shuttle Series
Be Quiet Dark Power Pro
Channel Well
Enermax Maximum Plus
Enermax Noistaker II
Enermax Noisetaker
Enermax Whisper II
Enermax CoolerGiant
Enhance ENS-G
Epower Xscale
Fortron (FSP) GLC
Fortron (FSP) THN
Fortron AX
Fortron HLN
Fortron PFN/PN/PA
Seasonic Super Versatile
Silverstone F
Sparkle FSP
Spire Rocketeer V/VI
Sunbeam Nuuo
Thermaltake Purepower
Thermaltake Toughpower <600W

Tier 4 – Not Recommend With Tier 3 In same Price/Wattage Range
Asus Atlas
Coolermaster Real Power
Coolermaster iGreen
Mushkin HP
NorthQ 4775-500S/BU
OCZ Modstream
Scythe Kamariki
Thermaltake TR2
Ultra Xfinity/X2

Tier 5 – Other than the units listed above for any of these brands, NOT RECOMMENDED
A-TOP Technology
Aspire(Turbo Case)
Athena Power
Broadway Com Corp
Cooler Master
Dynapower USA
I-Star Computer Co. Ltd
In Win
Just PC
Kingwin Inc.
Linkworld Electronics
Logisys Computer
Norwood Micro/ CompUSA
Spire Coolers
Star Micro
Ultra X-Connect


Phase III compensates for overcrowded Tier 1, while clumping together previously Tier 2 and 3 PSUs if only because no definite way to categorize then as good enough for Tier 2 or bad enough for Tier 3.



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