Thursday, 20 November 2008

Top Tips - Choosing a Gamers PSU

While the average, off the shelf PC draws only a couple of hundred watts from the wall, the fully fledged Gaming PC draws much, much more.  Therefore a cheap PSU, such as those bundled in with cheaper cases in the 3-500W range are rarely adequate for use in a Gaming PC.

A PC stacked with 3 Nvidia GTX280 graphics cards in SLi, an overclocked and overvolted quad core CPU, a few hard disk drives and a 24” monitor will happily draw more than 1000W (1KW)!  This may be an extreme example, given that this setup will likely cost more than £2000 when complimented with a suitable motherboard, case, cooling, optical drives and so forth, but it highlights the requirement of a powerful power supply unit for any respectable Gaming PC.

So how much power do you really need a PSU to supply?  Well that depends on a few factors, but the most power hungry single component in any gamers computer is likely to be the graphics card(s).


Mid Range Graphics Cards… Corsair VX450

…such as an Nvidia 8800GT, 9800GT, 8800 GTS or an Radeon 4850 will require a decent 450W-500W  PSU.  Manufacturers such as Antec, OCZ and Thermaltake offer some very good quality units for around £45.  I’d suggest, for these graphics cards, the Corsair VX450 which operates stably and offers excellent value for money.  It has a flashy all black paint job, and nice and neat braided cables and costs just £49.99 including free delivery from


High End Graphics Cards… Corsair TX650

…like the ATI Radeon HD4870 or an Nvidia GTX260 would benefit best from a 650W PSU.  Thermaltake, Hiper and Antec each produce well priced models, but the best choice of this range is the Corsair TX-650 which may not have the modular cables offered in the HX range, but offers the best power to price ratio, and can be found at for £73.95.


Very High End Graphics Cards… W0116Rb 750W Toughpower Modular

…including the Nvidia GTX280, 9800GX2 or the ATI Radeon HD4870 X2 would benefit best from a a more powerful 750W model that includes an 8pin power connector or two.  Thermaltake produce the modular ToughPower 750W which is nicely priced and has excellent performance and next-to-nothing build quality and can be bought at for £82.99.


Multi-Graphics Card Systems…

Utilising more than one graphics cards in either SLi or Crossfire configurations requires even more prudence in selecting the right PSU given the obvious higher power drain.  A couple of Radeon HD4850’s or Nvidia 9800GT’s can happily run off a 650W Corsair PSU and probably requires less power than a single GTX280.

Conversely, combining two very high end cards, such as the GTX280 will require something more along the lines of a Kilowatt PSU. Akasa PowerMax 1000WFortunately, since more and more people are getting into multi-GPU gaming manufacturers are producing more therefore the price has come down considerably compared to just 6 months ago, and you can now pick up the excellent Akasa PowerMax 1000W from at just £149.48.


As the need for faster gaming computers increases, so does the need for high quality, high power PSU’s.  Today there are many choices available, and lots that I have not discussed here, but what you must always be aware of is that it’s not always about the numbers.  Any manufacturer can produce a 750W PSU, but cheaper models tend not to be able to deliver that much power in the real world and remain stable at the same time.

If you are going out to buy a new PSU for your gaming computer, make sure you spend the most money you can afford, on the highest quality model you can find. Put it this way, if the PSU is enveloped in a grey metal case it is probably not as good as the guy selling it to you is making out.  Also, if the price is cheaper than these mentioned in this article, then look for something else.  Stick to the big brands such as Antec, OCZ, BFG, Be Quiet!, Corsair, ThermalTake, Akasa and Hiper.

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