Friday, October 7

Why it is a bad idea to save when buying a power supply

It is logical that, in order to buy a computer, there components that make us more or less illusion. That moment when you start to choose the parts, there are only two that take all your attention: the CPU and the GPU.

The world of gaming (and the professional) has an obsession with components. What if better Intel, what if better AMD; that I should go for the RTX 3080, that no, that the RX 6900 XT is better… it is difficult to agree.

For this, once we have already decided what main components we want, the rest is sewing and singing. “The RAM? It doesn’t matter, as long as they are 16 GB and have RGB, everything is fine. And the box? A nice one with tempered glass, more questions. And… the power supply? Well look, I hadn’t thought of that.“.

This question is a classic. No one cares about their power supply, they just want it with enough watts to power the computer so the RTX 3080 doesn’t shut down mid-game. You don’t look at brand, efficiency, or safety certificates… it doesn’t matter.

That is why my job is to explain to you why it is important to spend money on the power supply and why it should be a choice that leads us, at least a few minutes take. Let’s go, without further ado, to review everything you need to get out of here knowing about power supplies.

The main function of the power supply

The main function of the power supply unit (PSU) is to supply adequate power to each and every one of your components, be it an RGB strip or a graphics card.

The components you choose will dictate how many watts or power of the power supply you need, since more powerful components, such as an RTX 3090, will need more power than an RTX 2060, for example. Gaming deserves the best.

If you don’t select the power you need for your computer based on its components, you’ll run the risk of suffering power instability problems, which involve startup failures and random shutdowns.

Without enough power, you could be limiting your hardware, especially when it comes to auto-overclocking components.. That said, a high-power PSU does not equate to a high-quality power supply.

Quality and power output are two different categories that you need to consider when choosing the right power supply.

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Why is quality important?

A good quality power supply is essential for any system that wants to perform and last for years without fail.

A high-power, mediocre-quality power supply can power your components with no short-term problems, but you run the risk of breaking all your equipment in the event of a catastrophe (mains power surge, for example).

Poor quality power supplies fall short in categories such as: capacitors, output power, efficiency and safety. Who in their right mind would buy a racing BMW and put second-hand wheels in poor condition? That only ends in an accident, here the same.

Reputable companies like Seasonic, EVGA, or Corsair often sell power supplies with a 10-year warranty, which means that these companies are confident in the life of their products and they are able to achieve average sources that live 10 years or more.

The R&D that goes into making these power supplies is incredible. Everything from the fan to the Japanese capacitors are of good quality.

A poor quality PSU has cheap components like capacitors and transistors and the lifespan of these PSUs is much less than that of good quality ones. In addition, their guarantees are much shorter (2 to 3 years, the legal minimum in Europe).

This means that you will have to replace your power supply much more frequently in case it fails and you will end up spending more money than if you had bought a good quality one from the beginning.

Not everything is power, but it is important

As mentioned above, raw power is also important to ensure that all of your components are running smoothly. LThe power output advertised by reputable companies, for example 750W, is typically the continuous power delivered by the power supply.

This means that for an extended period of time, the power supply will supply the required 750W to the rest of the system. A power supply from a dodgy company will say 750W on the box, but it may just be peak (or peak) power rather than continuous.

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This means that this power supply will only deliver 750W in short bursts and you probably won’t be able to keep them for an extended period of time. Investing in a good quality power supply ensures that your system always gets the power it needs.

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Such a simple feature for a power supply, such as the ability to survive a sudden power spike, is often taken for granted. And that extra protection is what makes it worth $20 more than the competition. But you have to understand that that extra money just saved your entire PC from an unexpected power surge.

What is efficiency and why is it vital?

In addition to consistent power output, efficiency is another benefit quality power supplies offer.. 80 Plus certification is a must for any power supply you’re considering purchasing. Nothing with a lower certification is worth it, nor will it be of quality.

From there you can go up. It can be an 80 Plus Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum or Titanium certified power supply, in order of increasing efficiency (the Plus Titanium are the most efficient in the world).

In any case, an 80 Plus certification means that your power supply will be, at worst, 80% efficient in loads that include 20%, 50% and 100%.

This high level of efficiency means that the power supply will have to draw fewer watts from the wall outlet to reach its power levels. For example, a 1000W power supply at 100% load requires 1000W of power to power a system.

An 80% efficient power supply will need to draw 1,250W from the wall outlet to reach the required 1,000W. On the other hand, a 50% efficient 1000W PSU would need to draw 2000W from the wall to achieve 1000W output.

The 250W excess power of the 80 Plus rated PSU is much less than the excess power of the 50% efficient variant.

This way you will save more electricity with a more efficient power supply and, in turn, you will save a few euros throughout its useful life (which can be more than 10 years, don’t forget).

The biggest advantage of an efficient power supply is in the temperatures. Excess watts of power drawn from the wall are converted to heat, and more excess watts means more heat.

A good power supply, regardless of its efficiency, has a reliable fan to dissipate this heat, which won’t be too much considering its low excess power levels.

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This is in stark contrast to a poor quality power supply which will generate high levels of heat due to its inefficiency. This causes loud and annoying noises from the fan.

Also, bad power supply fans are notorious for their poor reliability. They break without warning and in the middle of the game, the PSU shuts down due to heat (or bursts, depends on how bad it is at the level of capacitors).

Final conclusions when buying a power supply

Once we have seen all the important points, we are going to review what we need for our next hardware purchase.

To begin with, measure the consumption that we are going to have, in an estimated way. If the CPU has a TDP of 100W, the GPU maxes out at 230W, and you have an SSD, a couple of RAM chips, and a motherboard with RGB, at 330W the CPU and GPU always we must add about 50 W from the rest of the equipment.

If we add again we see that it gives us 380 W. For safety, and knowing that sources lose power over the years, the best thing is to add another 100 W, which would give us a source of about 500 W rounding up. Now we would be covered against unforeseen energy events.

My recommendation is that we always stretch a little upwardsbecause if tomorrow you decide to buy a better processor or a more powerful graphics card, if at the time you chose a PSU with extra watts, you will no longer have the need to buy a new one.

Once the power has been reviewed, the ideal is that we choose a recognized brand, especially those that give many years of guarantee. Seasonic, EVGA or Corsair are among the most recognized, but there are many more.

And, finally, that we value very positively the degree of efficiency. Never go below Plus 80, since otherwise every time you are using the computer you will be paying more money because of the power supply.

10 years playing with a bad PSU can be thousands of euros of wasted energy due to poor efficiency.

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