If you use your gaming PC all day long, you should consider the costs and benefits of purchasing an energy-efficient power supply.
Better energy efficiency and better quality mean not only a longer life for your components but also significant cost savings in the long run.
In this post, I’ll show you how much you can save and show you my favorite power supplies by budget.
Table of Contents
With an efficient power supply from day one
The power supply takes AC power from the wall outlet and converts it to DC voltage, which is used by the computer’s electronics. Here are some good reasons to equip yourself with a good power supply from the beginning when building a gaming PC.
An 80 Plus certified efficient power supply is a good idea
Power supply efficiency is basically the amount of power the power supply is able to convert from the wall. For example, if you have a power supply that draws 500 watts from the wall, while your PC uses 400 watts, the efficiency of the power supply will be 80%.
Shown below is how much you can save with this efficiency.
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How power supplies are rated
80 PLUS power supplies are tested at 20%, 50%, and 100% to see how they maintain their efficiency at different loads. The efficiency levels are divided into standard, bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.
A standard 80 PLUS power supply should achieve 80% efficiency at 20%, 50%, and 100%, while a platinum power supply, for example, should achieve 90%, 92%, and 89% at the same three loads.
Disadvantages of using an inefficient power supply
- More power. The power supply has to constantly draw more energy from the power outlet to get the same usable power. This results in a higher electricity bill.
- Extra heat. An inefficient power supply can generate extra heat. Keeping computer components cool will help them perform better and last longer. Since wasted power is dissipated as heat, a more efficient power supply results in less heat in the case and therefore cooler components.
- The calculation for more power. How much can the average gamer save by switching to an efficient power supply? While this depends on the amount of time the average gamer plays and how much energy their rig requires, here’s a basic calculation based on how much the extra energy would cost in California over time. Note that this figure varies greatly by state. For example, this graph shows that a kWh in Idaho cost 8 cents, while a kWh in California cost 15.2 cents in 2011. Current costs show that the average in 2020 will be 19.9 cents.
How much does it cost to run your PC?
Probably a lot more than you think.
Let’s take a power supply with an average efficiency of 90 percent compared to a power supply with a 70 percent efficiency and assume that your PC draws an average of 400 watts of power. The typical average is around 200 Wh; however, I am assuming you are a gamer with an active power supply.
Also, let’s assume that your computer is used 8 hours a day. How much would you save in a year with a more efficient power supply?
First, let’s look at how much each power supply would cost.
90% efficiency versus 70% for a high-end system
The 90% efficient power supply would need to draw 444.44 watts to reach the 400 watts your computer uses on average. Converted to kWh, that would be a total of 3.552 kWh for one day or 1296.48 kWh per year. If you live in California ($0.199/kWh) the cost to run your system at this rate would be $251.38.
With a 70% efficient power supply, you would need to use 571.43 watts to reach the average 400 watts your computer needs, or a total of 4.571 kWh over an 8-hour day. In one year that would be 1668.42 kWh for a total of $332.02.
With higher efficiency, you could save $80.64 in a year! So the longer you run your device, the higher the efficiency you should be aiming for. Note that this calculation was performed based on a computer running at a high level 8 hours a day, year-round in California.
The calculation for you can change significantly if you live in a different state or leave your computer idle most of the time.
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Should you buy a power supply with more power than you need?
I keep hearing that everyone buys a power supply that far exceeds their needs and that it’s a total waste. That is not completely right. A power supply works 40 to 60% more efficiently.
At 220V, some people opt for a larger power supply simply to achieve higher efficiency and lower heat output. *Remember that the power required to run at 50% is much less than most people think!
That said, if you buy a high-efficiency power supply, it will likely be efficient in many capacities.
How to Calculate Your Power Supply Needs
The easiest way to calculate your electricity needs is to use an electricity calculator. I would recommend Cooler Master or just type everything into PCpartpicker.
Power Supply Capacitors
Capacitors can wear out over time. Japanese capacitors have a better reputation due to the rigorous testing they undergo. However, you’re typically paying a higher price for the potentially better quality you’re getting.
Choosing a power supply for your needs
You’ll need to decide whether it’s worth paying more for a power supply that may last longer and be more energy efficient.
Personally, given the 5-year warranties available on even cheap 80+ power supplies, I’d rather go for something cheap that I can swap out after 5 years.
Best PC Power Adapters by Budget in 2022: $30 to $45
Below are our best power supplies by budget. Categories include prizes under $25, $50, $100, and $200.
I will not recommend any single power supply in this category as your purchase largely depends on the discounts available. If you get a good discount, you can get a good quality, bronze rated, 400-500 watt power supply for about $25-35.
If you can’t find a decent power supply at this price point I would honestly spend more for your budget. In other words, avoid the world’s cheap power supplies and you’ll save money on hardware over time. You will also save money on energy efficiency.
1. Thermaltake Smart Series
Available in capacities from 430W to 700W, Thermaltake Smart series power supplies are perfect for any budget system. They are 80 PLUS certified and offer good components for the price you pay.
They’re not modular, so you’ll definitely want to have good cable management, but they have good components with an average lifespan of 100,000 hours before failure. I’ve used it in the past and it hasn’t failed me once.
That’s not to say it’s perfect, and occasionally there is a disaster. This is the case with every piece of hardware. But for the price, it’s good and comes with a 5-year guarantee.
2. EVGA 430W and 500W power supply
If there’s one power supply that’s generally a good buy in the $40 price range, it’s the EVGA 430 W1. EVGA has become a major player in the power supply industry in recent years. In the $30 to $40 price range, I like the bronze-certified 430 W1.
It is certainly not a high-end model with Japanese-quality capacitors, but it is sufficient for inexpensive systems. There is also a 500-watt version of this model that is regularly offered for almost the same price. Choose this option if you need extra power.
As far as noise goes, this model is certainly not a winner. It’s a little noisy on the desk, which might be annoying for some. However, if your gaming PC is on the floor, that’s probably not a problem.
Final Thoughts on EVGA
Overall, the EVGA 430 W1 80+ power supply is one of the options that I like in this price range. If better quality is offered at a cheaper price I will occasionally go for it. I recommend it for a low-budget gaming PC valued at around $500.
If it’s a bit more expensive, I’d recommend a high-end model. That being said, I also occasionally grab something similar for a $750 gaming PC to invest more in my GPU.
Avoid EVGA’s N1 series
You might be tempted to go with EVGA’s N1 series of power supplies. However, do not confuse these with the W1 series. These are not 80 PLUS efficient.
In other words, for a little less money, you’re paying more for your computer’s performance over time, which seems like a bad compromise considering the price difference.
Power supplies under $50
Sometimes it’s hard to differentiate between power supplies in the $50 price range and the $25 price range. It might sound strange, but the reason is that high-end gold model are rarely discounted, while models in this price range regularly do so.
However, if you can find something like EVGA’s SuperNova series in this price range, we’d recommend going with that rather than the models listed below.
If you want a real leap up, consider something in the sub-$75 price bracket. A good power supply at this price will have quality capacitors, be Gold certified, and be from a reputable brand.
1. Corsair CX 550 and 650-watt power supplies
Probably the most popular options in this price range are the Corsair CX 550/650-watt models. They are solid in terms of quality and price and should last a long time. Corsair offers a 5-year warranty on its products.
The CX series is semi-modular, which makes it a bit easier when trying to build in harsh conditions.
Overall, you get a good power supply with a decent capacity from a well-known low-cost supplier. There’s a lot to like, although there’s even more to like when it’s on sale.
2. Rosewill ARC series power supply
At this price, you get similar quality with extra capacity. The exception is Rosewill’s ARC series power supplies, which offer good value for money.
The ARC uses a single heavy-duty 12V rail which is great for gaming systems. In terms of capacities, it is available in capacities ranging from as little as 450 watts to 750 watts. If you’re working in a tight space, consider one of the “M” versions of this power supply. These modular options give the system a simple, clean look.
Perhaps the best thing about the ARC is that it’s nearly silent. It uses a quiet 120mm fan, which is inaudible when typing on the desk.
The best gaming power supplies under $100
For any $750 to $1,000 setup, securing a decent power supply should be a priority. Here are the options I recommend right now.
1. Corsair RMX series
Corsair’s RMX series has capacities ranging from 550 to 1,000 watts and costs between $100 and $240.
It’s one of the most popular options for gamers in 2021 and is definitely worth a look. The price reflects the Gold certification and the quality standard achieved. 100% Japanese capacitors, fully modular cables, and low noise are all part of what you are buying.
In my opinion, this is a good starting point for many PC owners. If you can afford it, you will save money over time.
While many complain about the Corsair name, the price, and quality of this model are hard to ignore.
The $75-$100 price range is the lowest I’d recommend for gaming computers in the $1,000 price range. Here you get something that should last five to ten years. Beyond that, you’ll likely get a better warranty and better overall efficiency.
Considering you’re trying to protect your equipment and save money at the same time, I’m surprised many builders don’t start there.
To get the best value for money, I would like to make some recommendations. Of course, a good discount on a good month can certainly change things, and if you can choose a quality company like Seagate for the same price as another, not to worry.
However, the next PSU on this list is a tier 1 option that is almost always available at a reasonable price.
2. EVGA SuperNOVA
I’ve used EVGA’s SuperNova series of power supplies in several projects and am still impressed. They are perfectly suited to the medium and high end of the market. In terms of capacity, it is available from a minimum of 550W to a maximum of 1600W.
Quality-wise, it’s top-notch, with Japanese capacitors, a ten-year warranty, and full modularity for cable management. It also looks great. All cables are braided and the finish is remarkable.
Overall, this is a good power supply for a new GTX 1070, GTX 1080, 1080 Ti, or even a multi-GPU setup.
Another good option in this price range would be the Seasonic SS-660XP2. With level 1 quality and platinum efficiency, it’s a good option at around $105 after a discount. It has won the PC Perspective Editor’s Choice Award in the past and continues to shine with its quality.
The capacity for this option is up to 860W. If you choose this power supply, it will probably cost you another $50.
Power supplies under $200
Need a good power supply for a high-end gaming PC? There are many options, but here are a few that I would recommend.
When you spend that much, you need high capacity and quality. First, I’d like to point out the model I recommended for the $100 higher-capacity option. Available for less than $200, the EVGA SuperNova G2 1300W is fully modular and even comes with a 10-year warranty.
When a manufacturer puts so much faith in a product, you know the quality has to be good. This quality goes beyond pure paper statistics. The G2 has high-quality Japanese capacitors and is relatively quiet for its size. Also, it has powerful over-voltage, under-voltage, over-current, overload, and short-circuit protection.
1. Seasonic SS-1050XP3
I also like Seasonic’s Platinum models in the same price range. The Seasonic SS-1050XP3 power supply is a fantastic option. It is fully modular and comes from a trusted brand in the power industry.
Also, it runs most of the time without a fan. In other words, it’s almost silent. This is especially true for hybrid mode. As far as energy efficiency goes, it’s platinum-certified, making it one of the best you can find. In terms of design, the fully modular cables, black-painted design, and gray-painted words are all top-notch.
Of course, there are many more quality options in this price range. However, these are the two options I prefer.