Depending on its overall performance, your PSU plays a big part in determining your system's reliability. So you have to be careful when it comes to picking the right one for your needs. A good PSU should also have the protection features that are able to save your components, including the power supply itself, should something go wrong.
You’ll also obviously have different needs and concerns depending on whether your PSU will be pushing a monster mining rig, an always-in-demand workstation, or a mid-level gaming or productivity PC. We’ll help you find the right power supply for your next rig—whatever it is—below.
News and Product Updates
This week, we took a close look at FSP’s 850W Hydro PTM power supply. It’s an efficient and quiet power supply with a decade-long warranty and high-quality caps. But it’s also bulky for its capacity. It didn’t excel in some of our performance tests, and it’s priced high compared to the competition. The Hyrdo PTM is a competent PSU, but it doesn’t balance features, performance, and price well enough to land on our list of the best power supplies.
Why Trust Us?
Tom's Hardware has been reviewing PC hardware for more than two decades. We put each power supply through a battery of tests which measure everything from load regulation to power efficiency, plus key protection features, and much more. We've tested hundreds of models, from sub-500-watt budget units to 1600-watt PSUs with top-of-the-line components and features, so we can separate the best from the unreliable and inefficient models that aren’t worth risking your precious hardware for.
Quick Shopping Tips
First, figure out your wattage requirements. It doesn’t make sense to buy way more potential power than you’ll ever use. You can roughly calculate 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 handful below:
You probably don’t need a 1,000-watt PSU, even for an extreme gaming rig. A few years ago, all high-end graphics cards were power-hungry, but this changed with Nvidia's recent architectures. It's simply not necessary to buy a 1kW PSU for a couple of GTX 1080s. A 750W model will do just fine, leaving plenty of headroom for an overclocked CPU as well. Fans of AMD's flagship Radeon cards need to plan for higher power use, pairing them with PSUs featuring greater maximum output.
Check the physical dimensions of your case before buying. Chances are, if you have a standard ATX case, 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 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.
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 the case. But if the system you’re building doesn’t have space for this, or there’s no place to hide 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.
Model Comparisons: Overall Performance and Performance Per Dollar
In the relative performance charts provided with each one of our PSU reviews, we create an index of sorts that encapsulates overall performance, including load regulation, ripple suppression, efficiency, hold-up time, and the maximum power each PSU can deliver. Hopefully this makes your life easier, since you don't have to decipher several data-heavy graphs to reach your own conclusions.
|Relative Performance||Performance Per Dollar|
You only need to take a quick look at our index above to see where your PSU of choice stands against its competition. The second-most-important chart (on the right above), derived from the relative performance score, is performance per dollar This should help you when shopping for an upgrade.
Best Cheap PSU ($60 or less)
Best PSU: Up to 550 Watts
Best PSU: Up to 650 Watts
Best PSU: Up to 750 Watts
Best PSU: Up to 1,000 Watts
Best PSU: Above 1,000 Watts
Best SFX PSU
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