Your PC's power supply / PSU plays a big role in determining your system's reliability, depending on its performance. So you should be careful when it comes to picking the right PSU for your system. The best power supply should also have features to save your system's parts (including the power supply itself), in case something goes wrong with your electricity supply or other components. If it doesn't, it's clearly not the best power supply, and is putting your other expensive PC parts at risk.
You'll also have different concerns, of course, depending on whether your power supply will be pushing a monster mining rig, an always-churning workstation, or a basic productivity or gaming desktop. We’ll help you find the best power supply for your next desktop PC below.
Quick Shopping Tips
First, figure out your wattage requirements. You don't need to purchase much more potential power capacity (wattage) than you’ll ever use. You can calculate roughly how much power your new or upgraded system will draw from the wall and look for a capacity point that satisfies your demands. Several power supply sellers have calculators that will give you a rough estimate of your system's power needs. You can find a few below:
- Cooler Master Power Calculator
- Seasonic Wattage Calculator
- MSI PSU Calculator
- be quiet! PSU Calculator
- Newegg PSU Calculator
You probably don’t need a 1,000-watt PSU, even for an extreme gaming rig. A few years ago, all graphics cards on the high-end of our GPU hierarchy were very power hungry. But this has changed with Nvidia's recent architectures. It's simply not necessary to buy a 1kW PSU for a couple of RTX 2080s. An 800W model will do just fine, leaving headroom for an overclocked CPU as well. Fans of AMD's high-end Radeon VII or the newer Radeon RX 5700 XT will need to plan for higher power use, pairing these cards with PSUs featuring greater maximum output.
Check the physical dimensions of your case before buying. If you have a standard ATX PC case, chances are an ATX power supply will fit. But many higher-wattage PSUs are longer than the typical 5.5 inches. So you’ll want to be sure of your case’s PSU clearance. If you have a particularly tiny or slim PC case, it may require a less-typical (and more compact) SFX power supply. We have picks for this form factor below as well.
For more on this subject, see our A Basic Guide To Motherboard, Case and Power Supply Form Factors feature.
Want a clean build or working in a tiny case? Consider a modular power supply. If your case has lots of room behind the motherboard, or your chassis doesn’t have a window or glass side, you can of course cable-wrap the wires you don’t need and stash them inside your rig. But if the system you’re building doesn’t have space for this, or there’s no easy place to hide your cable mess, it’s worth paying extra for a modular power supply. Modular PSUs let you only plug in the power cables you need and leave the rest in the box.
The Best Power Supplies You Can Buy Today
Of the two variants of Corsair's CX450, the Great Wall version is more efficient than CWT's, especially under light loads, and has a more efficient 5VSB rail. On the other side, it has a more-aggressive fan profile, so its noise output is increased. In the US market, you will only find the CWT version, which is made in Vietnam instead of China, so it avoids the tariffs and keeps its price tag low.
Read: Corsair CX450 Review
Alternate Best Cheap Power Supply: Corsair VS450
Another decent alternative if your budget is low, you need more than 500W of capacity, and you aren't that concerned about efficiency or some fan noise under load is the Corsair VS650. It won't win any performance awards, but it gets the job done without much in the way of frills or fuss, for less than $50.
The RM550x is an amazing PSU with fantastic ripple suppression, tight load regulation on the minor rails and excellent performance with transient loads. It’s also nearly silent, even under load. On top of that, this unit is highly efficient, although some other Gold-rated PSUs with similar capacity fare a bit better.
Another advantage of the RM550x is the quality of its internal components. The only thing that we would like to see in this PSU is a convenient way to test the fan's proper operation. The fan does spin for a short time every time the power supply is switched on, but we'd like Corsair to add a fan test button like the one on its RMi units.
Read: Corsair RM550x Review
Alternate Best PSU 550W: Phanteks AMP Series 550W
Seasonic's Titanium Prime Ultra platform is among the best, if not the best, analog design in the PSU market. This is the best 650W unit money can buy today with high performance in all major sections. Besides top performance, it also offers a dead silent operation.
Alternate Best PSU 650W: Seasonic Focus Plus Platinum 650W
Seasonic's 750W Focus Plus Platinum is a true bargain in the $110 range. We don't know how the company managed to hit such an attractive value point while maintaining strong performance, excellent build quality, and a 10-year warranty. It offers superb overall performance, employs fully modular cabling, and fits in a compact enclosure.
In the past, Seasonic's engineers played it safe with aggressive fan profiles for increased airflow, and as a result, many of its previous-generation PSUs were fairly noisy. But with the fresh Prime and Focus models, that’s just not the case. The high-efficiency Focus models feature semi-passive modes and loose fan profiles, even under tough operating conditions. It’s nice to see key OEMs like Seasonic realizing that performance and reliability should go along with mild acoustics.
Alternate Best PSU 750W: Seasonic Connect 750W
If you need the best 850W power supply and you don't have a restrictive budget, the AX850 should be among your top choices. It registers high performance in all areas: efficiency, load regulation, ripple suppression, transient response and, on top of that, it is dead silent as well.
While it's the best 850 watt premium PSU around, it's not a perfect device. I wish the current triggering points on the minor rails were lower, that there was a larger distance between the peripheral connectors (ideally 150mm) and that there were 16AWG gauges on the EPS connectors.
Read: Corsair AX850 Review
Alternate Best PSU 850W: Corsair RM850x
Corsair's AX1000 is one of the best 1kW power supplies available. If you want the highest possible performance matched with quiet operation, don't hesitate to make it the centerpiece of your next build (provided the price doesn't scare you off).
This beastly PSU offers tight load regulation on all of its rails, amazing ripple suppression, and crazy-high efficiency levels. Its transient response is impressive, so we're not surprised that it takes the lead from Seasonic's 1000W 80 PLUS Platinum- and Titanium-rated models (even though they're built using the same platform with slight modifications).
Read: Corsair AX1000 Review
Alternate Best PSU 1K Watts: Seasonic Prime Ultra Platinum 1000W Review
We waited years for a competitor to dethrone Corsair's AX1500i, and in the end it was another Corsair power supply to post higher overall performance. The Corsair AX1600i is the best PSU that money can buy today, period. It offers top performance in all areas and uses an innovative platform, which provides a glimpse at the future of power supply design.
The use of a cutting-edge PFC circuit in combination with a fully digital platform seems to be the key for record-setting performance. Besides its super efficiency, the AX1600i also offers great load regulation, amazing transient response, a long hold-up time, and unparalleled ripple suppression. Moreover, the great benchmark results are accompanied by quiet operation, enabled by a relaxed fan profile and a high-quality FDB fan. Using the Corsair Link software, you're able to choose between three fan modes: performance, balanced, and quiet.
Read: Corsair AX1600i Review
Alternate Best PSU Above 1000 Watts: be quiet! Dark Power Pro 12 1500W
The Corsair SF750 is the strongest and one of the best SFX power supplies that money can get you today. If you want so much power out of such a small PSU and you can afford its stiff price, there is no other option. It can easily support a potent gaming system and thanks to the couple of EPS connectors that it has, and is compatible with high-end mainboards that need more juice in the CPU's area.
If you don't need more than one graphics card connector, you should consider the top-notch SF600 Platinum instead and save yourself some serious money. Corsair has set the so high in the SFX market that even SFX pioneer SilverStone, doesn't have, for the moment at least, a competing 750W SFX model in its portfolio.
Read: Corsair SF750 Review
Alternate Best SFX Power Supply: Corsair SF600 Platinum
Fractal Design's Ion SFX (-L) model with 650W max power offers high performance, highly flexible modular cables, and compact dimensions at a reasonable price. If only its fan speed profile was a bit more relaxed.
Alternate Best SFX-L Power Supply: SilverStone NJ450-SXL