Having an adequate power supply for your PC can make and break your precious setup. Without enough power, your PC can’t run to the best of its ability. You could end up wasting money on expensive upgrades if your PC can’t provide enough power to them!
However, in the same way, buying too much power for your PC is just as inefficient. While it shouldn’t affect the way your PC runs, you could end up spending much more money than you need on it. Different PSUs supply different amounts of power, and they have different features, too.
While it’s hard to narrow down the very best PSU, we’ve done our best to provide that for you here. Besides different wattages, PSUs also come in three separate types: modular, semi-modular, and non-modular.
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The modularity of the PSU you buy is an important decision to make. While your PSU will perform the same basic functions regardless of how modular it is, it can change the price, cable management, performance, and more.
Modularity in PSUs refers to how customizable the cable outputs on the unit are. They range from fully-modular to non-modular. Fully-modular PSUs have ports for all wires that can be removed and exchanged at will.
This means that, if you’re trying to create a specific color scheme with your PC, you can add in colored wires in particular shades to match that theme. You can swap in more expensive wires, too, such as those with nylon sleeves instead of plastic.
On the other hand, because these units are so customizable, they tend to be more expensive. However, they also tend to perform better. Because you only attach the wires that you need, there aren’t any wires wasting wattage on the unit. Airflow and performance tend to be better, too, since you won’t have extra wires sitting around and taking up space.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are non-modular PSUs. These PSUs come with all the wires you could possibly need permanently attached to the unit. For someone planning to make use of all of these wires, it fulfills its purpose flawlessly, but for others, it makes cable management a nightmare.
Additionally, having all these extra wires can negatively affect performance. Like we mentioned, too many unused wires can waste power, and if they’re in the way of the fan, they can make the unit run hot, too.
In the middle are semi-modular PSUs. These PSUs have several ports with swappable wires, but essential ones, such as the power line, remain permanently attached to the unit. Generally, semi-modular units are the best compromise between cost and performance between the three, but if, for instance, the power line gets damaged, you can’t easily repair the unit as you could with a fully-modular PSU.
The efficiency rating on your PSU is something you should consider, as well. While non-modular PSUs tend to be less efficient as a whole, most PSUs come with their own efficiency rating.
The most usual indicator for this is the 80PLUS indicator, which is present on all PSUs that operate at greater than 80% power efficiency. All of the PSUs in this guide are 80PLUS certified.
Most PSUs can’t give you a specific number on how efficiently they operate, but the 80PLUS rating comes in several tiers that give you a better idea of efficiency.
Non-80PLUS is the lowest level, of course, and includes all PSUs that don’t comply with the 80PLUS standard. From there, White is the lowest level of 80PLUS, and from there it goes Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Titanium.
Gold efficiency is the sweet spot for most gamers, as Platinum and Titanium can sometimes be overkill for home-computer applications. However, anything with the 80PLUS rating is a great place to start, and the higher the score, the more future-proof it will be.
- White efficiency rating
- Only available in 500 W
- Three-year warranty
The EVGA 500 W1 is our starting place for this guide, and it’s a good one for many reasons. Firstly, this is an excellent option for someone building a mid-tier PC and who doesn’t understand all of the PC terminologies yet.
The EVGA 500 W1 is a reliable, basic model of PSU, and it’s also the cheapest option on our list. It’s an excellent option for those on a tight budget.
This model is only available in one wattage: 500. Generally, 500 watts is an excellent starting point for most mid-tier gaming PCs. Unless you add some very power-hungry GPUs or other parts to your PC, you shouldn’t need too much more than that. As such, this GPU is very much a budget choice – low power, but low price, also.
The 80PLUS certification on this model is also only the “white certification.” This is the lowest possible certification while still remaining within the 80PLUS range, but it’s not too surprising for a budget model.
This is a non-modular PSU, as expected of a budget unit. This means that you need to have reasonable cable management solutions in your PC if you don’t want a mess of extra cables in your case.
While this unit has the prerequisite voltage protections included, there have been some mentions of “frying” incidents with it, so keep this in mind. It may not be a good idea for a new, expensive PC. Do keep in mind, though, that events like this have a chance to happen with any PSU.
However, if you can deal with the extra cables and you don’t mind the lower efficiency rating on this device, it’s a decent option for those working on a budget. However, do keep in mind that this unit has only a three-year warranty.
- Can be loud under load
- Prone to manufacturing defects
- Three-year warranty
The EVGA 500 BR is another budget-friendly PSU, but this time with a bit more flexibility. This unit is available in 450, 500, 600, and 700 watts. It’s also available in several sister varieties with even more wattages, such as the BQ and BT.
Like the previous model, this unit is entirely non-modular. As such, good cable management strategies are necessary to make the most of it. However, since this is certified bronze 80PLUS, it’s a bit more efficient than the W1 above.
Do keep in mind, though, that the actual efficiency difference between the white and bronze certifications are pretty minimal – usually in the range of one to three percent. You can find a table with the actual percentages here and in the Modularity section above.
On the whole, this is a decent PSU. As with many PSUs, this one can fall prey to some issues with failure. Additionally, this unit, in particular, can be a bit loud under load, so if that’s something that would bother you, it may be best to avoid it despite its modest price.
However, if you don’t plan to push your computer to load often, you likely won’t notice this downside. Do keep in mind, though, that this PSU also only has a three-year warranty, unlike most of the choices on our list that have five. This is a bit more acceptable for a budget model, but still, an important thing to consider.
- Very quiet
- Semi-modular and non-modular options
- High wattages are excellent for future-proofing
- Rarely prone to mechanical failure
- Cables can be a hassle to manage
The Corsair CX 750 is the first option in our list with the possibility of being semi-modular. In fact, this PSU comes in both non-modular and semi-modular options. The difference is that the semi-modular units have an “M” after the name. For example, the CX 750 would then be the CX 750M.
This PSU comes in both 750 and 650-watt options, so it’s meant for higher-load PCs than our previous choices. Both of those wattages are available in both semi-modular and non-modular configurations. For most gamers, semi-modular is the ideal configuration.
Notably, this unit is extremely quiet, even under load. Anyone concerned about the noise level of their PSU should take note: this one is designed to be exceptionally quiet. Also notable is that this unit comes with a full five-year warranty to accompany it, meaning you’ll be able to use this PSU for several builds. The high wattage makes more sense when you consider this fact.
Do keep in mind that the semi-modular versions of this PSU are slightly more expensive than the modular versions. This is to be expected, but the actual price difference is quite small.
Like the previous unit, this one is bronze certified. While we recommended gold earlier in this article, bronze is still an excellent compromise between performance and cost. Gold-certified PSUs will be a bit pricier.
- Very budget-friendly
- Several wattage options
- RGB option
- Prone to mechanical issues
The SMART 500W is another option for a budget PSU. This model is also non-modular, which is a downside, but it also comes at a great price, too. In fact, the base price of this model is the cheapest in our entire lineup.
This PSU comes in four wattages: 430, 500, 600, and 700. This, in addition to its low cost, makes it a great budget option. Its efficiency is only white, but that’s not unexpected for a budget model.
In addition to being quite inexpensive, this PSU has another unique offering: it also comes in an RGB version. Predictably, the RGB version is a bit more expensive, but it can add a lot of spice to your build, too.
Similar to other budget options, this one has the potential for failure or even to be DOA. However, when it does work, it does its job well. It works very quietly, as well, which is a definite plus. Fortunately, this one also has a five-year warranty to back you up, too.
All in all, this budget PSU is a decent option – especially for those looking for a unique RGB power supply – if you’re willing to take a chance on it.
- Long warranties on related products
- Silent when not at lo
- Prone to the usual mechanical failures
- Older units are less reliable
The EVGA GQ series is the first gold-rated PSU that we’ll take a look at. According to our table from before, this means that the EVGA 650 GQ will usually run at around 90% efficiency, give or take one or two percent.
The GQ comes in 650, 750 850, and 1,000-watt variants, and the unit is semi-modular. It’s also still quite affordable for such a good PSU. This unit also has a full 5-year warranty to go with it, so you’ll be able to use it in many builds to come.
If you’re looking for something that lasts a bit longer, the big brothers to this unit, the EVGA G2 and G3, come with 10-year warranties by default, but at two or more times the cost.
The EVGA 650 GQ is designed to be near-silent when in use. At high loads, any PSU will make a bit of noise, and this one is no exception. However, the fan on this unit doesn’t activate at all unless necessary, which is excellent for keeping your PC nice and quiet.
One important thing to note with this and many EVGA products is that, if you want to take full advantage of the extended warranties they offer, you usually need to register the product on EVGA’s website after purchasing it.
This can be a hassle, and can sometimes cause problems if you need to make a claim down the line, but forgot to register your product.
Additionally, be aware of where you purchase this unit. Older versions of this PSU (and many others) can have unforeseen issues not present in newer units. If you’re concerned that a website may be selling older units, it’s best to shop at the company’s website directly.
- Good price for what you get
- 10-year warranty
- Cables can be inflexible
- Cable coverings feel/look low-quality
The Corsair RMx series is quite similar to the GQ we just looked at but raises the bar in that this unit is fully-modular. This is the first fully-modular unit on our list, but surprisingly, it’s still very much in the affordable range. While you’ll need to break the $100 barrier for just about any fully-modular PSU, this PSU straddles that line nicely.
Like the GQ, this RMx 850 is gold certified, meaning that it’ll operate around 90% efficiency. Additionally, this unit comes in a wide range of wattages.
While a fully-modular PSU won’t be necessary for everyone, this is an excellent example of the value you can get in a fully-modular unit if you shop carefully. That being said, though, fully-modular PSUs don’t get more modest than this one; usually, they tend to go all-out with high voltages and high 80PLUS certifications, like the EVGA Supernova below.
This unit is extremely quiet, too, and it also comes with a fantastic 10-year warranty. The only real complaint with this model comes in with the cables. They can be rigid and tough to work with, and they come with cheap plastic sheaths instead of nicer nylon ones.
This might be a fair trade-off for the affordability of this unit, and since it’s fully modular, you can always purchase custom cables, but it’s something to keep in mind.
EVGA Supernova 750 P2
Wattage: 650, 750, 850, 1,000, 1,200, 1,600
- Extremely efficient
- Good price for what you get
- High wattage options
- 10-year warranty
- VERY heavy
- ECO mode can be ineffective
The EVGA Supernova 750 P2 is a true beast of engineering. Despite coming in with a Platinum rating from 80PLUS, not Titanium, this unit comes in the highest wattage levels we’ve included on our list. These wattages go all the way up to 1,600 – that’s almost three times what the average gaming PC needs!
While most people will not need a 1,600 watt PSU – and likely wouldn’t want to see the price tag on it anyway – having the option, especially for specialists with very high-end PCs, is nice. The high wattage also makes these PSUs incredibly future-proof, and they also come with 10-year warranties.
Unsurprisingly, these PSUs are fully-modular, which is often the case for high-end and expensive PSUs. Also, they are tanks. If you’re looking for a lightweight PSU, this is not for you – it weighs a ton!
One thing to note about this PSU – and other EVGA PSUs, too – is the inherent difficulties with EVGA’s ECO mode. The ECO mode makes it so the unit runs slower, cooler, and more quietly at light loads. However, when your PC’s power needs fluctuate rapidly (such as while gaming), the PSU can sometimes have trouble keeping up. If this happens, it’s best to keep ECO mode disabled.
- Good quality
- Runs quietly
- Small form factor
- Can be tough to find specific PSU models
- Prices can fluctuate wildly
Seasonic is a trusted name in PSUs that has been around for years. Because of this, they have many, many PSU lines and models to choose from. However, their PSUs can also be a bit difficult to get your hands on, too, and prices can vary. However, the end product you receive is quite lovely.
The Focus+ Gold is another Gold-certified, fully-modular PSU, similar to the Corsair RMx we looked at above. However, the Seasonic has a particular advantage in that it’s noticeably smaller. This PSU is only 140 millimeters long to the RMx’s 160. This makes it an excellent choice for smaller builds.
The fan on the Focus+ Gold has unique programming in that it works in three different modes: fanless, silent, and cooling. In fanless mode, the fan doesn’t spin at all. In silent mode, the fan works as little as possible to keep the unit cool. In cooling mode, the fan works as hard as it needs to keep the unit cool.
While this unit comes in with good quality and fair prices, its difficulty in obtaining specific models puts it at a bit of a disadvantage. However, if you find a good deal on one, don’t hesitate to pick this up!
- Highest level of efficiency
- 10-year warranty
- Reliable and well-built
- Very, very expensive
The Corsair AX 1000 is the first and only Titanium-certified PSU that we feature in this list. However, alternate versions of other graphics cards (such as the Seasonic Prime Titanium) come with this designation. Titanium-certified PSUs are powerful and extremely efficient, but their pricing reflects that, too.
While it’s true that purchasing a Titanium-certified unit like this one will set you back quite a lot, it’s possible that this could work in your favor in the long run. This unit operates at the highest achievable level of efficiency (which is usually anywhere from 94-96%).
If you were to use this PSU for ten years, which is the life of the warranty, that would add up to a lot of saved electricity over, say, a White-certified unit, which only operates at around 80% efficiency.
This is an excellent argument for buying this unit, but it only holds water if you intend to use it for a long, long time. If you’ll be purchasing a new PSU within the next few years anyway, this unit wouldn’t be worth the extra cost.
That being said, though, this unit is fully-modular, well-built, and decently reliable. It also runs very quietly. And, honestly, if you’re going to splurge on any part of your PC, the PSU is definitely one of the best places to do it.
- Addressable RGB effects
- 10-year warranty
- Needlessly expensive
Our final pick for this list, the Thermaltake Toughpower GF1, is a bit of a lighter-hearted pick. This is a fully-RGB unit, though it comes in several different types of RGB, too. ARGB stands for addressable RGBs, of course, and it means you have more fine-tuned control of the colors on your item, but the PSU is available in normal RGB variants, too.
Surprisingly, this unit is fully-modular, too, and the GF1 ARGB comes in both Gold and Platinum. However, the Platinum will set you back significantly more. Even the Gold version costs far more than its non-RGB competitors.
The ARGB upgrade on these PSUs seems to be a relatively recent addition, so this could potentially mean that they’ve fixed issues common in the previous RGB models. It’s not silent, but it’s on the quiet end of most PSUs, so it ends up ahead of many of the budget models.
Overall, this is a special card with unique offerings. Thermaltake seems to be the only serious company that’s been producing high-quality RGB PSUs, and for now, they dominate that part of the market. However, the light show needs to be worth that extra cost to the consumer, too.
All in all, we have an excellent lineup of PSUs here to choose from. While PSUs as a whole tend to be a bit finicky at the best of times, there are several options on this list that seem to rise above the others in terms of quality.
Firstly, for our best overall option, we have the EVGA Supernova P2. Despite being a Platinum-certified graphics card, this unit comes in at some very competitive prices, and as you can see from the pros-and-cons list, we can’t say enough good things about it! If you have the money to spend on this unit, we highly recommend doing so; otherwise, the EVGA GQ is an excellent (and logical) step down in price.
Our budget pick, on the other hand, was a bit tougher to pick. It seems that cheaper PSUs have a higher likelihood of failure (though this could also just be an observer effect), so we weren’t able to narrow down a favorite. Instead, it seemed appropriate to isolate two premium picks: the Corsair AX and the Thermaltake Toughpower GF1.
The Corsair AX is a premium pick for one apparent reason: it’s Titanium-certified. While it starts out expensive, this efficiency rating will actually save you money on electricity in the long run if you use it enough – it could even end up helping to cover that difference in cost!
The Thermaltake Toughpower GF1 ARGB, on the other hand, doesn’t have the same level of performance as the Corsair AX, as it’s only available in Gold and Platinum, but who wouldn’t like some LED lighting effects in their custom rig?