The performance of the whole computer depends on the choice of the power supply. Before making a decision it is worth to analyze the power of the components and other issues – we suggest how to choose the parameters of the equipment
The power supply – despite appearances, the most important component of a computer
Before making a final decision, a number of criteria should be taken into consideration in order to adjust the parameters to the application of a given computer. Although we often think about the power supply only as a last resort, we cannot overlook the importance of this component. We should definitely not economize on this subassembly – it is worth betting only on proven equipment from reputable manufacturers. Incorrect operation of the power supply or improper adjustment of its capabilities in relation to other components can be fatal and lead not only to the destruction of equipment, but also to serious damage to health.
How does a computer power supply unit work? The purpose of this component is to convert the AC voltage from an electrical outlet into a low, stable DC voltage. The current is then transferred to specific components, allowing them to work properly – the performance of components such as the processor, graphics card or the entire motherboard depends on the efficiency of the power supply. Most often, it is a part of a rather simple structure; on the outer side we can find a socket for cable connection – most often it is a widely used IEC C14 connector with a characteristic trapezoid shape. From the output on the opposite side comes out a bundle or bundles of cables, which are then connected to the motherboard. In terms of connection to components, we distinguish between modular power supplies, which allow the cables to be disconnected from the power supply, and standard products with permanently attached cables.
Types of power supplies for your computer – check which one is best for your PC
In terms of size, there are mainly three types – here is the basic classification, starting from the largest and also the most popular type:
- ATX – dimensions 150 by 140 by 86 mm,
- SFX – 63.5 by 125 by 100 (120 for SFX-L) mm,
- TFX – 65 by 85 by 175 mm.
Why is size so important when it comes to power supplies? It’s a factor that affects two issues crucial to the performance of this component. The first one is power – larger units are able to efficiently deliver more current, so they will work well in more demanding constructions. The second aspect is to match the power supply to the dimensions of the case, remembering to provide adequate ventilation.
Key considerations when choosing a power supply
Key aspects when choosing a power supply for your computer include voltage regulation, electrical protection, PFC and cooling. Each of these factors affects the final efficiency of the product and therefore the overall PC performance.
Voltage regulation allows maintaining a constant level of current, which translates into failure-free operation of components. We distinguish three types of this solution: DC/DC converter, independent and group. In the case of electrical protection, attention should be paid to the protection against overload, overheating, short circuit and too high or too low voltage.
The PFC system allows to correct the power factor – thanks to this the power supply will minimize energy losses, which positively affects the efficiency of other components. Power supply cooling can be passive, semi-passive or active. In the first case, a heat sink is used instead of a fan, which means quieter operation, but at the same time a lower efficiency limit. The semi-passive method involves running the ventilation when the PSU is finished, while active cooling runs continuously.
Power supply power – a key deciding factor
To properly choose a power supply for your personal computer, you must first determine the power requirements of other components. The best method is to write down each component and see what its maximum power consumption is, and then add up the results. You should always buy a power supply with a certain reserve – if the entire system consumes 400 watts, for example, a 600-watt power supply is the right choice. This will avoid problems with power drops or insufficient performance of individual components.
Which manufacturer should I choose?
After analyzing the above mentioned issues, you can proceed to the selection of a power supply manufacturer. The most popular companies include SilentiumPC, Corsair, Gigabyte and BeQuiet. The reputation of the manufacturer is of great importance here – on the Internet we can find so-called black lists of power supplies, from which we can learn which names it is better to avoid.