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How to choose a power supply unit for a PC

Stability and quality of the PSU are critical

Some might view the power supply unit as the most boring component of the lot. But with no power...! Anyway, the most important attribute needed after sufficient wattage is stability. Which really means choosing a manufacturer with a reputation for quality.


Get reserve power and spare connectors for upgrades

Sparkle Power Action 600 power supply unit

It's clearly important to have enough wattage and matching connectors for what's currently installed, but a PSU should have reserve power and spare connectors for components you might add in the future. We think the PSU should allow for upgrading to the next level of technology without having to change the PSU. For example, while a PSU with 350 watts is fine for most PCs without a video card, the PSU should have have enough reserve power and a spare PCI Express connector to add a separate powerful video card in the future. That would be a 450W to 500W PSU with a spare 6 pin or 8 pin PCI Express connector.

For a gaming PC that currently sports a mid-level video card, the PSU should have reserve power and a second PCI Express connector for upgrading to a high-end video card in the future. That would be a 500W PSU with two 6 pin or 8 pin PCI Express connectors. There is good news here, some new high end video cards are dropping their power needs substantially like the Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 which requires only a 500W PSU!

You would only need a 600W PSU or higher wattage with two 6 pin, or one 6 pin and one 8 pin, or two 8 pin PCI Express connectors for progressively higher end video cards that cost $300 and higher for the video cards. The wattage requirement information for a video card is published on the website of the video card manufacturer.

Keep in mind that under utilized power capacity doesn't help performance in any way and PSUs with high wattage are expensive. Money saved by selecting a wattage with sufficient head room for expansion but no more, will be better spent on a more powerful CPU, graphics or memory. Also a PC needs balance, for example upgrading the video card to an extreme card that needs a lot of power while keeping the CPU the same will create bottle necks, and you might not want to upgrade all parts or you're talking almost the cost of a new PC. So you don't need to plan the PSU for the most extreme upgrades either.

Sparkle Power 450W power supply unit

A single +12V rail PSU or a multi +12V rails PSU

Skip this para if you don't want too much techno talk! A rail is a group of PSU wires and connectors that are monitored for the total current drawn from them collectively. The PSU shuts down (OCP protection) if the total current drawn for that group or rail exceeds a fixed limit. This shut down limit is typically higher on a single +12V rail PSU compared to each +12V rail on a multi +12V rail PSU. So you can connect more components to a single +12V rail PSU compared to what you can connect to one +12V rail on a multi +12V rail PSU. Obviously you can connect more components in total to a multi +12V rail PSU using all the rails. The benefit of a multi +12V rail PSU is that it offers you more protection.

Thoroughly confused by that convoluted last para, here's the actionable part! Get a single +12V rail PSU up to a 500W PSU. This allows you to use or upgrade to a single powerful video card in that PC without the PSU shutting down, as long as the total wattage of the PSU meets or exceeds the minimum requirements for the video card. For example a single +12V rail 500W PSU can handle a GTX 970 video card!

Get two +12V rails or more above a 500W PSU for an extreme gaming PC. This allows you to use or upgrade to dual or more video cards so each card can draw sufficient current from it's own +12V rail. Of course again the total wattage of the PSU must meet or exceed the minimum requirements for all the video cards, and the PSU should have sufficient connectors on each +12V rail for the video card it supplies current to.

Quiet PSU fan for cooling

Cooling is a factor and a large 12cm exhaust fan included in the PSU moves a lot of air keeping the PSU and the computer cooler. However the noise of the PSU fan is a critical issue. You don't want to hear the whirring or whining of the fan. It'll ruin your whole PC experience. Here again, a quality PSU manufacturer will pay attention to this important detail and give you a quiet almost silent fan. That's another reason to pay up for a quality PSU manufacturer.

PSU Connectors

Make sure your PSU has spare connectors for future upgrades. For a mainstream PC for its SATA hard drives and DVD drives you would want at least 4 SATA connectors, for potentially a DVD drive , a Blu-ray DVD drive, a hard drive and a solid state drive (SSD). For a higher end PC, 5 or 6 SATA connectors should be fine. For video card connectors that's been covered above.

You also might want for a power or gaming PC a PSU with a 4+4 pin CPU power connector and not just a 4 pin CPU power connector in case you want to upgrade the motherboard at a future date.

Modular connectors are nice, you only use the wires you want and that reduces clutter and potentially increases air flow, but they're not necessary and are more expensive PSUs.


Linux interest and freedom from big tech articles!

Microsoft’s greed is killing Windows 11 for me - TechRadar, April 21st, 2022:
It's pretty obvious now. Kamil

March 21st, 2022: Windows 11 will add a watermark if you use unsupported hardware - engadget
More control, less freedom, same old story. Kamil

Feb 24, 2022: Bill Gates: ‘If every country does what Australia did,’ the world could prevent the next pandemic - CNBC
I don't see him as a champion of human rights and freedom, do you, lol. Kamil

Dec 2, 2021: Microsoft’s new Windows prompts try to stop people downloading Chrome - The Verge
“Microsoft has also been making it harder to switch default browsers in Windows 11 and forcing people into using Edge through Windows updates. These latest prompts also follow widespread criticism of Microsoft building a “buy now, pay later” tool directly into Edge that prompts users to use a short-term financing service.” - from the last para in that article.

Oct 8, 2021: Amazon Delivery Partners Rage Against the Machines: ‘We Were Treated Like Robots’ - Yahoo Finance
“They say work hard and make history, but Amazon is a culture of fear and anxiety.” - From the last line in that article.

Sep 10, 2021: Epic v. Apple ruling: Judge finds Apple's App Store restrictions violate antitrust law - Yahoo Finance
About time! - Kamil

Aug 28, 2021: Why You Suddenly Need To Delete Google Chrome - Forbes

FTC says Facebook has been a monopoly ‘since at least 2011’ in amended antitrust complaint - The Verge

Windows 11 Is Making It Absurdly Difficult to Change Browsers - GIZMODO
Don't these people at Microsoft behind this latest move know how to behave, it appears they never grow out of that mindset of cheap anti-competitive tricks, motivated by greed I guess or something else who knows, instead of just trying to do great stuff. Here try this instead Microsoft, create your browser, don't integrate it with Windows, make it available for download, market it like any other product, if it's any good people will use it, if not they won't. Don't force people to use it because you think you can get away with it. Weren't they told something similar by antitrust regulators sometime back, that article references that case, did they forget? - Kamil

What the Linux Mint developers have pulled off is nothing short of astounding - TechRepublic

Fired by Bot at Amazon: ‘It’s You Against the Machine’ - Bloomberg News
This is not good - Kamil

PC users are furious about the new Windows 11 design - Creative Bloq
Windows has been wanting to be Apple forever, constantly copying them, try and be original for a change, don't be afraid you're a big boy now, or maybe not lol - Kamil

Epic v. Apple fight: Billions at stake as judge determines fate of App Store - Yahoo!
Controlling and receiving a big cut of all apps on an iPhone by Apple is a joke, let's hope for a tech freedom verdict - Kamil

Google reportedly made it difficult for smartphone users to find privacy settings - The Verge

I looked at all the ways Microsoft Teams tracks users and my head is spinning - ZDNet

Microsoft just force restarted my Windows PC again to install more unwanted apps - The Verge

Disastrous Windows 10 update is reportedly breaking some PCs - TechRadar

With Edge, Microsoft’s forced Windows updates just sank to a new low - The Verge

A million students and counting have learned Linux - ZDNet

Linux Mint 20: Still the best Linux desktop despite one quirk - ZDNet

What Operating System Is the Best Choice for Software Engineers? - Interesting Engineering
Hint: From the article "GNU/Linux is, hands down, the most highly acclaimed operating system for software engineering."

Microsoft: we were wrong about open source - The Verge

How to choose PC parts

CPU Video card Memory
Motherboard SSD/HDD DVD CD
Power supply Case OS
Speakers Monitor Linux

How to assemble a PC

PC assembly guide
PC assembly project
High Performance Everyday PC build
Premium Everyday PC build
Premium Everyday Mini PC build
Gaming PC build
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Workstation Computer build
Save with Linux on a PC
How to choose PC parts
Dual boot Linux and Windows
Upgrade to SSD project
Transfer data from old PC to new PC

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