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Monday, 2 February 2015


How to pick up the Best Power Supply Unit (PSU)

Continuing with my series of helping you all out with the various PSU related problems and dilemmas in computers, today we will discuss that how you can buy yourself the best power supply unit for the buck you are going to pay and keep your machine running smooth and efficient for year to come. And yes you don't need to be a rocket scientist to understand all this so wipe of that line from your forehead.
All of you are more or less aware of the fact that PSU or SMPS is the most vital part of your computers and also you must be aware with the basic functioning of a power supply unit.
Below we'll take all the basic points one by one and in the end give you a clear picture of how you can get and choose the best power supply unit.

The Maximum Power

When you buy a PSU first of all determine the total amount of power that it will need to supply to all your components, this will help you get an understanding of what exactly are you looking for. Use this calculator to know the amount of power you actually need.

Now that you have got to rough idea of the total power you need I'd like to inform you that always buy a power supply unit with a higher wattage than that you require. Why? Well its simple as per experiments and tests its proven that a PSU only delivers maximum efficiency when operated at 40%-60% of its maximum load capacity. So if not the double of what you need always try to keep a little extra juice in the unit to get maximum efficiency. The silver lining for Indians and other Asian citizens is that a PSU works best at 230V supply which is the standard supply voltage in these countries.

The Concept of Rail

Whenever you choose a power supply unit just look at the label first where all the values of current is listed on various voltage rail. The first thing that you need to make sure is that you are getting more than atleast 20A on the 12V rail. This is the lifeline of your computer and needs the maximum amperes enlisted on it possible, the higher current on the 12V rail the better.
Now lets look at the second feature, I've taken this label for reference purpose for you guys, now look closely. A modern PSU of newer design typically has +3.3V & +5V combined power less than that on the +12V rail. This is simply because the two major power hungry components in your system are the processor and the graphics card which happen to run on the 12V rail only! So it is mandatory that your power supply unit supplies them with high values of current. If you get a PSU that has more current ratings on the other two rails in comparison to the 12V one it means that the PSU is based on older technology and is not optimized for new generation hardware.

The Number of Connectors

Every power supply unit comes with its own number of connectors that fit into various plugs in the machine to power up all the components. Be sure to do an inventory of all the connectors in your system. Don’t forget to take into account possible future growth, particularly with SATA and PCI Express connectors. Better to have four 8-pin PCIe connectors, and use them only in 6-pin mode, than to not have them and discover that new high performance graphics card you just bought requires two 8-pin connectors. Similarly, ensure the PSU has a minimum two extra SATA connectors beyond your existing installation.
Note that some power supplies come with multiple ATX12V connectors – those connectors used to deliver additional dedicated power to the CPU. Some lower end motherboards only have a single 4-pin ATX12V connector, while higher end boards have an 8-pin connector.Most PSUs have a split 8-pin, in which either 4-pin half may be used in a motherboard with only a 4-pin connector, or may be combined to supply 8-pin ATX12V. A few PSUs ship with dedicated 4- and 8-pin connectors, so you use whichever one you need.

Noise & Efficiency

The noise produced by a PSU is a key feature as either it can run very quiet giving you a productive session on he PC or turn your computer into a jet engine! The noise produced by a power supply unit is directly proportional to the heat produced by the unit as the fan rotates more to keep the temperature down.
Let’s say you have a system that runs at 70W idle with a 500W PSU. If you drop in a 800W PSU that’s equally efficient, your system will still run at 70W while idling. The system consumes no more power at idle just because you have a PSU with a bigger maximum capacity, assuming both are equally efficient. The bigger PSU gives you more headroom – it will run more quietly and generate less heat when it’s drawing 500W. So having a little extra capacity headroom may reduce noise levels and even generate less heat.
Efficiency and its advantages I've already explained in detail in my previous article, so simply buy a unit that is 80 Plus certified. Even a 80 Plus standard PSU with low wattage is more efficient than a higher wattage non certified local manufacturer's PSU.

Size Matters!

So you’ve just bought that lovely 950W, 80-plus gold certified power supply. It’s heavy and solid feeling, and has all the connectors you ever would want. So you go to install it in your PC chassis, only to find out that you can’t have your hard drives and the power supply installed at the same time. Oops! PSUs actually come in different physical sizes. The size doesn’t matter much if you pop it into a gigantic, full tower case. But a number of mid-tower cases have constrained PSU spaces that are opposite the optical or hard drive bays. Buy a PSU that’s just a little too long, and you’ll find yourself unable to attach SATA drive connectors.
Bottom line: be sure to check exactly how much space you have, and the physical size of the power supply, before dropping hard coin on that new PSU.

Which is better Modular or Non Modular?

A modular PSU is basically just another power supply unit with detachable cables. You can plug in the required cables to the components and back to the PSU and leave the unused cables unattached to the unit giving you a cleaner and tidier rig which would otherwise result in a bunch of loosely hanging wires that you might just fold and spiral into a corner not only making it look ugly inside but may also cause heating issues at worst.

So its always recommended to buy a modular PSU if you are not going to use up all the connectors available on the power supply unit. The downside is that its expensive than its non-modular counterparts, so buy them only if you are left with spare money. Don't waste your money on a modular PSU by compromising on other important features.

My Thoughts:
Above I've given you all more than you can use to buy an ideal PSU for your PC, though its just the water's surface that we've touched. Follow these steps and you can never go wrong in your purchase of a power supply unit ever....if you do then maybe you didn't read my article properly.
So as I always say do leave a comment and if you have a query feel free to ask.

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