Are you considering building a gaming PC now that GPU prices are finally coming down? Chances are you’ve spent a lot of time researching which GPU, CPU, RAM, and motherboard you want, but what about the power supply?
For many, the power supply just has to work and fit their budget, but as you’ll see in a moment, not all PSUs (power supplies) are created equal.
The main specification of a power supply is, of course, wattage, and that’s a measure of how much power the PSU can deliver. Some high-performance PC components, like GPUs, have power requirements that have only increased over the years. Nvidia’s GTX 4000 series GPUs were rumored to require even more power than the 3000 series, which itself needed a lot of power.
How much power? Well, Nvidia’s GTX 3090 Ti can draw over 400 watts of power, which is about as much as a small window air conditioner.
When buying a PSU, you should add up all the potential loads of your gaming PC. For example, if you have an Nvidia RTX 3090 Ti (450 watts) and an AMD Ryzen 5800X3D (105 watts) , plus 200 watts for SSDs, RAM, and integrated components, you’ll need a PSU rated for at least 750 watts.
However, pushing a PSU to its maximum capacity is not a good idea, as it can struggle to supply each component with stable voltages. This will in turn lead to problems throughout your system, which can be difficult to fix. The thing is, if you’re planning on pushing your gaming PC hard, you’ll want to buy a PSU with about 20% more capacity than what your system requires on paper.
Have you ever wondered why some power supplies are rated “Bronze”, “Gold” or “Platinum”? These ratings indicate the whole of a PSU Efficiency, which is really just a fancy way of saying how much waste heat a PSU creates.
What a PC power supply does is convert AC power from your wall outlet to DC power that the components inside your PC can use. So let’s say you have a 1000 watt PSU and you’re using it at 100% load, just for simplicity. A titanium power supply will be able to turn those 1000 watts of AC into 900 watts of DC and 100 watts of heat.
And just to take this example one step further, if you have a 1000 watt Bronze-tier PSU, it would only be able to convert 80% of incoming AC power, with 200 watts of waste heat generated in the process. When you say it like that, I think it really illustrates the hardware differences between PSU ratings. Wasting 20% of your energy as heat is no joke.
As you can imagine, PSUs with higher efficiency ratings cost more. That said, I’ve used a lot of bronze rated power supplies in my day, and honestly most of them have been excellent. I think for a lot of people it makes sense to save money up front and just eat energy costs, but with energy prices rising around the world, I’m not not sure the math makes more sense, especially if you’re doing power-hungry games. , 3D modeling or programming.
Notes on extreme systems
For most systems with a GPU (even a top-tier one), a 1000 watt power supply will usually be sufficient. But systems with more than one GPU will need something in the 1200-1600 watt range. However, if you live in North America with 110 volt AC power, you should keep in mind that a 15 amp circuit breaker can only supply 1650 watts. maximum.
Our food choices
The power supplies described below are organized by energy efficiency rating. Each category will include high, mid, and low wattage power supplies, and each was selected based on its specifications, online reviews, and other intangibles like warranty.
Entry may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article. We only include products that have been independently selected by Input’s editorial team.
Titanium rate PSUs are the best of the best. They offer over 90% efficiency, but cost a plot more than their lower-rated counterparts. These will appeal to true performance tuners and people who like to flex.
Platinum Power Supplies
Platinum-rated PSUs are second only to Titanium-rated units in efficiency, but lag a few percentage points at 100% charge. These are good power supplies for gamers and people who need workstation-level performance, but are fine without the absolute top-tier efficiency.
Gold Power Supplies
Gold level power supplies are what I would consider a sweet spot for people who are efficiency conscious but also price sensitive. They’re nearly 90% effective if you squint, and you can get them for a lot less money.
Silver and Bronze Power Supplies
I group Silver and Bronze PSUs together because their efficiency only differs by 2%, and if you’re buying a PSU in one of those categories, you’re probably trying to find something reliable and affordable. The problem with Bronze and Silver level PSUs is that some are completely useless, while others are rock solid. The ones we’ve picked out below have tons of user reviews and are a great compromise between price and performance.