The power supply market has seen a lot of turmoil over the past 12 months. Trade wars and tariffs have impacted all consumer products with Chinese origins, and just as that was settling down the Coronavirus pandemic looks likely to cause severe production and distribution headaches in the coming months. Despite this there are still good options that don’t break the bank and new products coming to market. If you’re looking for a PSU for an upcoming build then this guide will help you select a power supply that’s right for your PC and your pocket.
Best Gaming Power Supplies – My Recommendations
Best Budget PSU for Gaming – Crosair CXM 550W
We advocate a minimum of 550W for a power supply in any build. Power supplies should last years and support several upgrades or rebuilds. As it’s impossible to predict what GPU and CPU power requirements may look like a few years from now or indeed how your own usage needs may change it makes good financial sense to buy a PSU with some headroom at the outset. This will reduces the cost and effort of upgrading in future. It’s tempting to save money if you’re on a tight budget but the power supply is absolutely not the place to cut corners. Cheaper power supplies omit safety protections that put the rest of your components at risk, and even the bigger name brands aren’t afraid to sell low end products that aren’t recommended no matter how little you’re looking to spend.
Just $20- $30 more in budget sees you with a reliable product that will last for years. With regards to power requirement 550W output is ample to power most common gaming configurations. For example a Ryzen 3700X and Radeon RX 5700XT system would draw around 360W at full load and would be quite comfortable operating on a 550W PSU.
At this point this market the Corsair CXM has always been a go-to choice. It nails the essential requirements at this level with semi-modular design ridding your build of extraneous wires, rock solid build quality and a full suite of thermal and safety protections to safeguard the rest of your components. It has a 5-year warranty and 80+ bronze efficiency as well as low fan noise operation. At the price point, there’s no better option.
Best Mid-range PSU for Gaming – Cooler Master 750W MWE Gold
The mid range market is one that has suffered greatly from price instability and availability issues over the last few months. As a result it is worthwhile to cast your net wider that the normally recommended power supply manufacturers and consider other offerings to ensure you’re getting best value. That’s why in this segment I’ve opted for a Cooler Master power supply. It flew somewhat under the radar on release, competing in a crowded market place. However it has managed to keep it’s price low when competitors have seen rises, making it a solid option.
Whilst a 650W PSU is more than adequate, more output never hurts. This 750W unit is currently $6 cheaper than its lower specified sibling, meaning you get a fully modular and gold efficiency rated 750W Power supply for under $85. It ships with high-quality cables and boasts a number of protections and noise reduction features, although be aware it does not have ‘zero fan’ mode for truly silent operation when not under load. It ships with a 5 year warranty. This is a robust, versatile and good quality power supply for mid-range gaming builds, at a great price.
Best High-end PSU for Gaming – EVGA SuperNOVA GA 750W
When planning a higher-end gaming PC build or perhaps anticipating future upgrades requiring a high-performance PSU, it’s worth considering expandability. Many AMD X570 and Intel Z390 chipset motherboards have an additional 4pin EPS connector to provide extra power to the CPU. It isn’t necessary for normal operation with most CPUs but for overclocking or to utilise the higher-end CPU variants like the Ryzen 3900X or Intel i9-9900KS it’s advisable to ensure the CPU power stage has as much current availability as it can get. The extra socket only is populated if you obtain a power supply with 2 EPS outputs and this is generally the preserve of 750W+ units. At this level, you should be looking for power supplies with long warranties, full overcurrent and thermal protections and quiet operation.
EVGA’s recently released GA series power supplies hit every mark on the requirements list and at a very reasonable price. It has fully modular sheathed cables, 100% Japanese capacitors and zero fan mode for silent low load operation. Gold efficiency lowers your electricity bills but more importantly the amount of energy wasted as heat. With this PSU EVGA look to have a winning product on its hands and they’ve shown their confidence in it by backing it with an outstanding 10-year warranty. You can buy this power supply safe in the knowledge it’s the last time you’ll need to do so before 2030!
Best Enthusiast PSU for Gaming – Seasonic FocusPlus Platinum 850W
If you’re planning a build with multiple high end GPU’s you’ll need a power supply with exceptional power output, as well as efficient operation. Seasonic have long been industry leaders and their Focus Plus platinum PSU brings their full expertise to bear. There’s a host of innovative features such as a cable-less internal design, compact size despite its power output, and fanless operation at low loads for lower noise and extended fan life.
Whilst fully capable of running multiple GPU’s, check your cable requirements as the PSU ships with 3 GPU cables and most powerful GPU’s require 2 each. Perhaps it’s the cost of gold end connectors that has seen Seasonic opt-out of supplying the full quartet with this power supply?
This PSU is a no-nonsense high specification unit with a 10-year warranty and exceptional thermal and acoustic performance, meaning you can buy it with confidence to run a workstation, multi GPU gaming or rendering PC, or an enthusiast overclocking gaming PC rig.
Best SFX PSU for Small Form Factor Builds – Fractal Design Ion 650W Gold
Small form factor (SFF) power supplies, also known as SFX PSUs, are one area where pricing and availability issues have laid waste to all the usual go-to options. Corsair’s Platinum SF600W unit is out of stock or approaching $300, making it non-viable even considering the slight premium associated with making your PC small.
Luckily 2019 saw Fractal Design release a new PSU, the Fractal Design Ion SFX-L. This is a full-featured unit that doesn’t sacrifice function for size. It boasts the full suite of thermal and over current protections. Performance isn’t compromised with hands-on reviews and torture testing discovering exceptionally stable and fault free operation under conditions that would see many full-sized power supplies buckle. Noise concerns are well addressed with fanless operation at low load and Fractal have even squeezed a 120mm case fan into the case where most SFX PSUs make do with a 92mm fan, meaning that when it is running it will be quieter and more effective at cooling.
The unique challenges of SFF builds have also been considered with the supplied cable set being shorter and designed with enhanced flexibility so they can be routed neatly and tucked away in limited space. Finally, it’s backed by a 10-year warranty, making this a purchase that will bring peace of mind for years to come. If you’re looking to take advantage of one of the many new SFF cases coming to market, the Fractal Design Ion SFX-L is now the go-to gaming power supply for ITX builds.