We’re revisiting an old topic. A few years ago, we posted an article entitled “How Many Watts Does a Gaming PC Really Need,” which focused on testing multiple configurations for power consumption. We started working on this revisit last week, using a soon-to-be-released Bronze 450W PSU as a baseline, seeing as we’ve recently advocated for more 400-450W PSUs in PC builds. We'll be able to share more about this PSU (and its creator and name) soon. This content piece shows how far we can get on lower wattage PSUs with modern hardware.
Although we’ll be showing an overclocked 7700K + GTX 1080 FTW as the high-end configuration, we’d recommend going higher than 450W for that particular setup. It is possible to run on 450W, but we begin pushing the continuous load on the PSU to a point of driving up noise levels (from the PSU fan) and abusing the power supply. There’s also insufficient headroom for 100% GPU / 100% CPU workloads, but that should be uncommon for most of our audience. Most the forum builds we see host PSUs ranging from 700-800W+, which is often overkill for most modern gaming PCs. You’d want the higher capacity for something like Threadripper, for instance, or X299, but those are HEDT platforms. For gaming platforms, power requirements largely stop around 600W, sans serious overclocking, and most systems can get by lower than that.
German manufacturer be quiet! has launched an update to the Pure Power series of entry-level PSUs: the Pure Power 10 and Pure Power 10 CM models (CM for “Cable Management”). We previously covered the new Pure Power PSUs at CES last year, where it was revealed that the series would be moving to 80 Plus Silver certification (for models at and above 400W) and that the cables would be changed to solid black by popular demand. In speaking with be quiet! at that CES meeting, we also learned that silver-rated PSUs are rough listing on Newegg, since there are so few of them; folks sorting by 80 Plus rating often skip over Silver.
The 300 and 350W supplies have one PCIe connector, 400-500 have two, and 600W+ have four. Modular cables are low-profile and fixed cables are (black) sleeved.
Enermax , known for PSUs, cases, and CPU coolers, brought a mix of their products to Gigabyte’s suite at this year’s CES 2017. Most notably, their PSU line will add some variations on old units, alongside a recently announced unit and at least one brand new unit. The company also had one new prototype case on display that could be promising.
The already known Platimax PSU, which was Enermax’s main offering in the 80+ Platinum category, now has a new variant called the Platimax D.F. The D.F. comes in 750W, 850W, 1050W, and 1200W power output and slightly smaller dimensions than its counterpart (15-20mm, depending on which models are being compared). Together, these specs make this the most compact kilowatt PSU on the market. The D.F. also uses the new Enermax sleeving system, SLEEMAX (yes, really), a tightly fitted sleeve that reduces the amount of space consumed when compared to custom sleeving. Finally, like several of their other models, Enermax’s D.F. supports semi-fanless operation below 30% load.
There are two ends to a power supply cable: The device-side and the PSU-side. The device-side of all PC cables is standardized. ATX 24-pin, EPS12V, PCI-e to the GPU, SATA—the wiring is known, and it doesn't change. What isn't standardized, however, is the layout of the PSU-side modular cable headers. Some vendors might use 6-pin connectors for their PSU-side peripheral headers (identical to what's found on PCI-e cables, because it saves cost), others will opt instead for a wide-format pin-out for the same. Another still could use a bulky 9-pin block for universal connectivity, like some of EVGA's power supplies.
What can't be done, though, is mixing cables between all these units. Or at least, it shouldn't be done. Mixing cables between power supplies can kill them or kill attached components. Not always, but it can -- and when the wiring crosses in exactly the wrong way, the failure will be spectacular. Like ESD, just because you've gotten away with mixing cables doesn't mean you always will. Electricity is not a mystery; we know well how it works, and crossing the wrong wires will damage components.
Almost every PC component comes decorated with RGB lights nowadays – it was only a matter of time before PSU manufacturers started incorporating RGB lights into their products. Thermaltake's doing that, following the success of the Riing RGB fans, and has recently announced the Toughpower DPS G RGB 650W PSU.
The new, colorful PSU is a modular 650W (and 850W) unit with an LED ring around its 140mm fan. The circular LED ring can output 256 different colors and can be changed with Thermaltake’s DPS G PC App.
The power supply comes with a 10-year warranty and an 80 Plus Gold efficiency rating. The long warranty challenges most PSUs, which usually only offer 3- to 5-year warranties. Thermaltake says the PSU is rated to be “91% efficient under real-world conditions.”
Back in the day – cue black-and-white flashback – computers used to take up entire rooms. Gradually, this has changed. Personal computers have become smaller and smaller, and now the SFX form factor allows PCs that are the size of consoles. The SFX PSU form factor was originally used for HTPCs, made possible by SilverStone’s high-wattage SFX PSUs; SFX options have evolved, and now SFX form factor cases like Fractal Design Node 202 and SilverStone RVZ01 support SFX PSUs and full-length GPUs. GPUs are placed horizontally to reduce the vertical height of the case and allow for small form factor gaming PCs that don’t have to compromise between high-end components or a small size.
Unfortunately, there are few SFX power supplies with enough wattage to comfortably run a system with both a high-end GPU and high-end CPU.
It's been a few months since our “Ask GN” series had its last installment. We got eleven episodes deep, then proceeded to plunge into the non-stop game testing and benchmarking of the fourth quarter. Alas, following fan requests and interest, we've proudly resurrected the series – not the only thing resurrected this week, either.
So, amidst Games for Windows Live and RollerCoaster Tycoon's re-re-announcement of mod support, we figured we'd brighten the week with something more promising: DirectX & Vulkan cherry-picked topics, classic GPU battles, and power supply testing questions. There's a bonus question at the end, too.
Be Quiet! has been in the air cooling and power supply business for more than a decade, dating back to a 2002 origin. At CES 2016, the German company didn't have any ground-breaking new technology or designs, but did share some information about what may be coming soon.
After seeing a 750W PSU coupled with a Core i5 and GTX 960 for the thousandth time, inspiration struck to compile one of our most ambitious benchmarks to-date. This analysis compares watt consumption across various GPUs, CPUs, and complete system configurations, resulting in a loose template answering the question of “how many watts do I need?”
It all feeds into one of the most common PC building mistakes: going overkill on power supplies, often buying larger PSUs for sake of certainty or under the pretense of “room to upgrade.” This is a fine pretense, but is often done to the extreme. The fact of the matter is that most mid-range gaming PC builds can run on 450-600W PSUs, depending on the GPU, with a good deal of them landing ideal wattage around the 500-550W range. Buying a power supply that more closely fits the usage curve of a system will improve power efficiency, reduce build cost, reduce cost-to-run, and allow builders to buy PSUs that put the cost toward more relevant features than just wattage – like efficiency, protections, PFC, and so forth. Think of this as redistributing the cost of purchase; it's not always that simple, but we'd generally rather have increased efficiency ratings and power protections than more watts. It all depends on the build, of course, and that's what we're dissecting here.
Let's first talk power supply basics: How PSUs rails are divided, voltage ripple, how many watts are required, and power efficiency, then we'll dive into individual component power consumption benchmarks. We've tested the majority of the current nVidia and AMD GPU lineups for power consumption, the AMD & Intel CPU watt draw, and templated system power consumption. Our system templates were built in a fashion that should fall within range of reasonable configurations for “real” builders, and will help in determining how many watts you need for common go-to builds.
Let’s be real: Power supplies are sometimes seen as a dry subject; after all, there aren’t watercooling blocks for them... Well, at least the crickets like my humor. Regardless, power supplies are full of nuances which can intimidate new users and those unversed with the intricacies of a good PSU. In order to remedy this, we’ve previously provided our PSU dictionary and various articles to inform those interested. For those less than ecstatic about learning about voltage ripple and similar terms, we’ve assembled today’s list of power supplies at various price points and wattage levels so that picking out a PSU is easier.
This guide aims to provide a reference point for selecting the best gaming power supply at various budget and wattage levels, spanning 500W to 650W to 1600W.
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