A variety of components come together to form your ultimate PC. One of the least exciting – but most important – choices involves the power supply. This is not an easy decision to make, but it’s beneficial to think through every aspect of your selection before you build a PC or custom computer. Equipped with the right power supply, you’ll achieve maximum performance both now and far into the future.
Why Your Power Supply Is So Important
Your power supply forms the basis of your entire custom computer experience. From the motherboard to the graphics card, nothing runs without a strong power supply. Fail to invest in a quality model, and all of the other elements you’ve so carefully selected will struggle to work as intended. On a long-term basis, the wrong choice could limit the life of this essential component, thereby harming other computer elements and leading to potentially costly fixes.
Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Power Supply
Power supply selection may prove surprisingly complicated. From output to cable clutter, a variety of factors can determine whether you’re able to make the most of this investment. Other considerations, however, won’t necessarily have a huge impact. Top factors worth taking into account include:
Arguably the most important factor worth considering, your power output will influence every aspect of your custom computer. However, what works for one user isn’t always preferable for everyone.
Ultimately, your preferred power output depends on your computer’s intended function. More isn’t always necessary. For example, if you don’t expect to use an advanced graphics card for gaming, you can probably opt for reduced power. Furthermore, if you overpower a bare-bones computer, you could actually increase the potential for degradation.
In most cases, 400-watt power supplies will prove insufficient. They may be affordable, but the initial investment in a 500 or 600-watt model could pay dividends down the road. While 600-watt options are not automatically necessarily, they can deliver considerable peace of mind – especially if you expect to upgrade your graphics card in the future.
Efficiency ratings should be a chief consideration, particularly if you’re eager to cut long-term operational costs. Unfortunately, some power supplies are wildly inefficient. The wrong choice could have you spending more for reduced performance. On a long-term basis, a problematic efficiency rating could lead to significant waste, even when your PC is not in use.
In general, aim for 80+ certified power supplies, which do more with less. Beyond the number, designations such as silver, gold, platinum, and even titanium can tell you a great deal about your prospective power supply’s efficiency. The highest designations aren’t always necessary, however, as your device will ultimately only pull the wattage it needs for the activity at hand.
How does your intended power supply physically fit into your computer’s case? Form factor can help you assess the fit while still allowing you to secure the wattage and efficiency rating you desire.
Today’s top form factors include:
- ATX – A replacement for the once prominent AT form factors, ATX are also beginning to fall out of favor. Currently, they’re best suited to those with minimal gaming or video editing needs.
- ATX12V – Presently the mainstream option for modern form factors, this approach involves several versions that differ in seemingly small, but significant ways. The v2.0 specification, for example, shifts the main power connector to a 24-pin format. The physical size and shape, however, remain consistent between various ATX12V and even match the eye-level aesthetics of the ATX.
- ESP12V – Initially designed for entry-level devices, the ESP12V is increasingly prominent among advanced motherboards, many of which now feature the ESP12V’s signature eight-pin processor power connectors.
- Small Form Factor – This category includes the SFX12V, LFX12V, and TFX12V. All are considerably smaller than the standard ATX12V option. As such, these form factors should be installed within smaller-than-average cases. This could lend your computer extra flexibility, especially if you’re limited on space.
Don’t limit your considerations to your immediate wattage and efficiency needs. Your power supply may function wonderfully now, but that doesn’t imply long-term viability. Do you eventually intend to invest in a better graphics card or other elements that will require more power? Keep these plans in mind now to avoid replacing your power supply later.
Your power supply system strongly influences the organization of your case – and the effort it takes to keep everything clean. By limiting clutter, you can increase airflow and provide more space for upgrades.
As you seek a solution that minimizes clutter, consider opting for a modular setup, in which cables are plugged or unplugged as needed. Conversely, with a non-modular design, unused cords are left to take up space.
How NerdsToGo Can Level Up Your Custom Computer
NerdsToGo provides a variety of in-home computer services, including custom computer builds and upgrades. No matter your needs or preferences, our experts can help. We’re determined to bring your dream computer to life.
In addition to providing residential computer services, we also build commercial devices and design network systems. Contact us today to learn more about our installation services and custom computer builds.