Why Use A Quality Power Supply?
Why is my power supply so expensive?
Customers sometimes ask me why their power supply is so expensive, when they have seen what they think are similar power supplies for a lot less money in their local computer store or on line, and the truth is, there are a lot of rubbish power supplies on the market, from brands that have no integrity. When building a computer, one of the most important parts to invest in, is the power supply unit or PSU for short. It is the part that takes the 240v electricity from the wall socket and converts it into the right voltages for your computer hardware to use. Typically these will be 12v, 5v and 3.3v in most cases.
A good quality PSU will have features such as active PFC or Power Factor Correction (PFC) that allows power distribution to operate at its maximum efficiency. A large fan that can be ramped up and down in speed as needed and should not be loud. It will also have to qualify for an 80+ certification. That means that it runs at a minimum of 80% efficiency and some are a lot better than 80%. An efficient PSU will create less heat and also save you money on your power bill. There is a rating system starting 80 plus going all the way to 80 plus Titanium, which needs to be over 90% efficient at all loads. The sweet spot for price is around the bronze area, with the Platinum and Titanium costing hundreds of pounds.
There are other things to consider as well, like what cables and connectors you are going to need. If you are not going to need all the cables that the PSU has and want a clean looking build then consider a modular or semi-modular designed power supply. These are great when you are restricted with space in a smaller case, as you can connect just the cables that you need and leave the others out and keep safe for future use. They can be slightly more expensive than their fully wired cousins, but not too much. If you have plenty of room in your case and don’t care about a bit of extra cable mess, then go ahead and save a few pounds. With most cases having plenty of room for cable management these days its not so hard to stash those cables out the way, and have the benefit of not losing any of them at the same time. These are the basics you need to keep in mind. We are seeing some manufacturers implementing PSU monitoring through the use of software and even offering custom cable kits to change the colour or just to have shorter cables for small form factor cases, but these features will add considerably more cost to the unit.
The long and the short is this, if you are spending a lot of money on your computer components, then don’t cheap out on the thing that feeds them power. A cheap PSU can cause damage to your other computer components, if you’re lucky it will just die quietly, but if there is a power surge, you could lose your motherboard, CPU, GPU or any part that takes its power from it, and in the worst case could even cause a fire, which although unlikely, can happen. So please stick to a reputable brand like Seasonic, Corsair, Coolermaster or Antec etc. and remember a good PSU can last you for more than just one build and can be re-used when its time to upgrade to a new motherboard and CPU platform. A power supply might not have the same impact on performance as upgrading a CPU or GPU, and may not look as flashy, but it does keep all those flashy parts running as they should be and can save them from being taken out prematurely.
Written by Craig Davison