If you think that power supply unit (PSU) seems like a non-important piece of the computer think again. It is the heart of the computer as it delivers the blood to the brains and other parts. The blood in this context is the electricity of course.
The PSU aspects that are important to me:
- the quality of the components/build
If you want to start a fire or have an instable computer then a no-name PSU is a good choice. They are cheap but they use low quality components and 220V (or other input voltages, i.e. 110V in the US) and a bunch of amperes can make some smoke at least if not start a huge fire. As it happened once to me. Luckily, I was at home at the time. I didn’t see smoke yet but I smelled that something is burning. After some “find that smell” exercise with my nose it turned out to be the low-quality PSU of my computer. Again, I was lucky that it happened while I was at home. The moral of the story is that you shouldn’t but a cheap junk PSU. Instead go with a branded one at least.
As usual, the bigger the cooling fan the better. There are some passively cooled PSUs out there however I wouldn’t use them since… well the point above and the fact that you might require additional fans on the chassis to cool them and they are not very powerful either. A heat controlled fan is a bonus – it would spin as fast as it is required and produce less noise when the temperature is low.
- output power distribution
Isn’t a 500W PSU equal to another 500W PSU? No, it isn’t. A PSU delivers various voltages to various computer components through various rails (wires). The declared power is distributed between these voltages. It is good as long every voltage has enough power. Even if PSU is rated at 1kW (yes, they do exist) and it lacks power even on only one rail then computer might behave oddly or it won’t turn on at all. PSU might even damage the computer components in such case.
- energy efficiency
The higher the better. It should be at least 80% (meaning that 20% is a waste). The higher the efficiency is the less energy gets wasted and your electricity bill is lower. Not to mention that the world benefits from it as well. Note also that efficiency varies with operating power. Check out 80plus website for more info on PSU energy efficiency.
I’ve been using Super Flower as manufacturer of my PSUs for some time now and I am happy with them although they are not a very well known manufacturer. Nevertheless web reviews are praising their PSUs in all the aspects mentioned above.
I’ve chosen the Aurora 600W (SF-600R14A) model (you won’t find it on their web site – which is a poor web site btw). It is rated at 82% efficiency though I don’t think it has been certified for (yet). It uses a huge 14cm cooling fan that is supposed to be very silent, furthermore it is heat-driven – it will adapt its speed to the actual conditions. 600W should be more than enough for my configuration. It should be enough for the most configurations, except for the dual graphic card ones (nVidia SLI, ATI CrossFire) (additional graphic card might draw a lot of additional power, i.e. 200W – depends on the card). So do calculate the power required in such case and buy an adequate PSU (again, check out the railings power).
Another bonus for Aurora is the usage of round cable connectors toward PSU. The round shape facilitates the air movement in the chassis and thus the cooling of the components. Another good thing is that cables are attached with connectors – you can attach and detach them if you don’t need them (as opposite to fixed cables on cheaper PSU). Less cables means better air movement and again, better cooling of the chassis interior. And less clutter in the chassis.
Bought it from CoolPC for 109,54€.
See other relevant posts: