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.

Following the tremendous growth in engagement from our fanbase – through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and the comments – we've decided to start a regular “Ask GN” series. We're using these videos to address reader questions that can be answered in a few moments, helping us to increase consistency of content delivery without sacrificing quality. That's the strategy behind it, anyway, and it's work thus far; the questions for our first episode invoked current topics of critical importance, making for strong discussion points.

For the second episode, we discuss the DirectX 12 vs. DirectX 11 disparity between AMD & nVidia (though we don't go as deep as discussing shader array size and architecture), whether or not 300W is “enough power” for a build, and the GTX 980 Ti AMP Extreme.

A bad power supply can cause a number of issues – in fact, it can even “pop!” and die. Other issues include bad regulation, response to load changes, and poor efficiency. Another consequence is volatile voltage ripple.

We will first cover what voltage ripple is, then how it affects users, and we’ll end by quantifying voltage ripple objectively.

The Supernova G2 power supply has been a go-to for our high-end PC builds in the past, offering highly efficient continuous power in a plus-sized form factor. An update to the power supplies brought along the P2 PSU, which has been shipping for some time in capacities up to 1600W – more than most American homes can supply from an outlet – and no lower than 1000W.

This Computex, Be Quiet doesn’t appear to be jumping into any new markets, but rather improving their current case, fan, cooler, and power supply product lines.

As part of our ongoing effort to define major component specifications, we've now published our “PSU Dictionary” to about 80% completion. Additional entries will be listed throughout the week's end. The PSU dictionary details critical terminology to selecting a quality power supply, including 80 Plus certifications, Rails (PSU), electrical protections, voltage ripple, and (soon) coil whine.

With Christmas only days away, many of us still haven't finished our shopping. No need to brave the cold to rush out into the crowds, though – we've got you covered. This week we found a case, a power supply, and three video cards that are on sale. If you're looking for a gift for someone else – or just want to treat yourself – check out the deals we found below.

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