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Old 11-17-2017
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Default [AT] Best PC Power Supplies: Holiday 2017

Published: 11-17-2017 15:00

Now that you***39;ve picked out your CPU, it***39;s time to start picking out the rest of your system components. And perhaps the most humble but overlooked of these components is the power supply unit (PSU). Available in a wide range of sizes and power capacities, there are a number of great PSUs out there, but choosing between them can be a challenge. So today we***39;re bringing you our annual PC power supply guide, to help you sort figure out what the best options are, be it a low-wattage unit for a small form factor PC, or a hulking kilowatt unit for the most powerful PC.

AnandTech PC Power Supply Recommendations: 2017
(Prices are Nov-17 or MSRP) Output Range Performance Option Value Option Under 400 Watts Seasonic SS-400FL2 $100 Seasonic SSP-300ST $35 400-600 Watts Seasonic SS-520FL2 $120 Corsair CX550 $30* 600-800 Watts Corsair HX750 $116 Riotoro Onyx 750W $80 800-1000 Watts Seasonic PRIME Titanium 1000W $260 BitFenix Whisper M 850W $94 Over 1000 Watts Corsair AX1500i $414 Cougar GX1050V3 $138 *after rebate We***39;ve split our recommendations into five main wattage categories with at least two units for each. One selection will be based on the maximum possible value (e.g. bang for the buck) and one will focus on the best overall performance. The following paragraphs expand on the proper selection of a PSU and details on why these units are our recommendations.

How Much Power Do I Really Need?

When shopping for a PSU, it is very important to be aware of your system’s power consumption and to consider of any forthcoming planned upgrades. All current computer PSUs are designed to deliver optimal performance at (or almost at) half load. It is a common misconception that a more powerful PSU will be a better choice, as the power quality and efficiency of all modern PSUs dwindles at very low loads. This is especially true at the low-end of the loading curve – usually below 15% of the unit***39;s rated capacity – where efficiency outright plummets.

As a result, using too powerful of a PSU will result poor power efficiency, which could very well be significantly worse than what a product at a fraction of the price would deliver. It is wise to remember that the advertised performance of a PSU is within the nominal load range (20% to 100% of its rated capacity) and the manufacturer is not obliged to include information on how much the performance degrades at sub-20% load conditions. Only the 80Plus Titanium guidelines dictate an efficiency requirement of 90% at 10% load. Therefore, the selection of a severely oversized PSU is both economically and practically senseless.

Overall, the best way to select a PSU is based on both objective (e.g. wattage, performance) and subjective (e.g. design, modular cables) parameters. This admittedly does require every builder to be capable of making at least an educated guess about the power requirements of the system. However this is where our guide and advice come in.

Perhaps the biggest mistake that many users make in selecting PSUs is overrating the power requirements of their systems. It is not uncommon for people – even store salespersons and experienced builders – to recommend a 1kW unit to a user with just two (or even one) high performance GPUs. A system with a single CPU and a single GPU rarely requires more than 300 Watts. A modern Intel Coffee Lake-based system with a single AMD RX 570/NVIDIA GTX 1060 card will hardly reach up to 220-230 Watts, while it usually idles at 45-55 Watts.

Meanwhile "wattage calculators", though an improvement from blindly guessing, are usually simple tools that get their numbers from the design power (TDP) specifications of components. The TDP of a component does not represent the actual power requirements of a component - it***39;s at best a broad guideline - and it also is next to impossible to place every single component of a system under maximum stress simultaneously. However, keep in mind that a PSU needs to operate at half load for optimal performance. With that in mind, while the recommendations of the online tools and calculators may be overestimated, they***39;re not overly so. Selecting a unit of the wattage they recommend is not usually a bad idea, as the recommendation usually is twice the actual power requirements of the system. The common mistake is that users usually seek to buy a significantly more powerful unit, thinking that having extra power helps, and end up with a severely oversized PSU for their system that will be both more expensive to purchase and unable to perform as it should.

If you can measure the actual power requirements of your system, keep in mind that you should not buy a unit that will frequently operate near its maximum capacity. Just as you would not run your car constantly near the red line, a PSU should not be under maximum stress for prolonged periods. A high quality PSU can withstand it, but just because it can does not mean it should. Again, all switching PSUs deliver their maximum efficiency at roughly 50% of their rated capacity. Running a PSU at over 90% capacity for prolonged periods of time will not only reduce its performance but it will also make it hotter, louder, and decrease its expected lifespan.

< 400 Watts
Seasonic SS-400FL2($100)
Seasonic SSP-300ST($35)


Although it is unlikely that most enthusiasts will even look at products rated at or under 400 Watts, the truth is that these are the ideal products for modern low-energy PC with a mainstream CPU and an average gaming GPU (or no GPU). Sadly, it is not a very popular segment of the market and there is little competition, meaning that there is not a very wide selection of products for the users.



For a low-cost product of reasonable quality that is backed up with a warranty from a reputable manufacturer, our recommendation would be the Seasonic SSP-300ST. Although it looks far too simplistic, with an unpainted chassis and bare color-coded wires, the SSP-300ST is one of the very few
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