When looking for a power supply for your gaming PC, it's easy to get bogged down in the details of wattage, rating, safety features, and manufacturers. Gamers must decide on the maximum headroom and rating of power supplies for gaming PCs.
For a typical entry-level gaming PC that consumes around 300-375W, you want to go with at least a 450W Power supply. Having at least 100W over your maximum power draw works well enough for entry to mid-tier systems; however higher end PSU's must extend this range to around 200W or more to account for transient loads from components like GPUs.
This article goes over what size power supply you need for a custom gaming PC and how much you should consider in overhead when it comes to demand.
How Much Wattage Should a Gaming PSU Have?
When considering how much wattage you should get in a gaming PC’s power supply, there is always the thought of future upgrades and how many watts that would demand. People with platinum-rated power supplies purchased 8 to 10 years ago are now experiencing the limitations of the hardware being released today. Understanding what you need today and years down the line will be instrumental in your journey to finding the best PSU for you.
What is a Good Wattage for a Gaming PC?
A great place to start is the collective components' power draw depending on the PC's exact use, whether for workstation applications, productivity, gaming, or a little of everything. Considering all those factors, most people are okay with between 500 and 550 Watt power supply units. Some can do just fine, dropping down to 450 watts, and others need to go a bit higher to between 600 and 650 Watts, but it seems as though 500 and 550 watts is the sweet spot for most entry level gamers.
Still, If you go with higher-rated parts like an AMD Ryzen 7 or 9 or Intel i7 or i9 you may want to bump up your search to a larger power supply ranging above 750W to 1300W! You should consult sites like whatPSU to get an accurate ballpark estimate of the required power supply you will need with the CPU and GPU you intend to use.
Can a PC Power Supply Be Too Big?
Standard ATX power supplies can never be “too big” regarding wattage, but there can be compatibility issues about the case size if the power supply is larger dimension. Clearance issues often don’t happen unless the power supply is over 1000W and is fitted in a smaller mid-tower case.
Using mid-tower cases as an example, Apex Gaming PCs uses a standard housing for ATX power supplies guaranteeing a wide range of use over multiple mid and high-tower cases without sacrificing space for wire organization and management.
When a Gaming PC Doesn’t Get Enough Power
When you have an inadequate power supply for a gaming PC, most issues stem from if you are experiencing crashes, performance issues, and most importantly hardware failure, which can occur unexpectedly.
PC Won’t Turn On
If your PC won't turn on, and it was explicitly turned on before, you may have a case of a bad power supply. Failures like this often don't happen initially after regular use but can occur after shipping or prolonged use spanning months or years.
The best course of action to solve this is to verify the power supply does not work via the following methods:
- Trying a different wall outlet.
- Switching your power supply off and on again
- Ensure all your motherboard and PCIE connections are secure including the cases on/off switch.
If your problem still needs to be solved, then the PSU is likely bad.
Performance issues with PSUs are subtle, and only a few factors would pick up software-wise contributing to game performance. The most common thing is to be power bound by your PSU, but the system still functions in a specific capacity. Observe your GPU clock speeds, and compare them to what you should see. If they are less than anticipated, update your drivers or consider changing your PSU due to being power limited.
While not entirely expected, power supplies can cause blue screens of death and even crashes, depending on the game. PSU's may trip thermal sensors while overheating some components due to the many voltage regulators between the PSU and the critical elements of a PC.
These issues require multiple pieces of hardware to confirm but are still prevalent in the industry today. Understanding what a faulty power supply could be from a malfunctioning CPU, GPU, or RAM is critical when troubleshooting a system overall.
How To Know If Your PC Has Enough Power
Understanding if your PSU has enough wattage is critical when picking the right system for you. Certain applications and sites assist broad assumptions to individualistic modifications down to the model and quantity.
As stated above, you can get a broad assumption for your CPU and GPU combination at WhatPSU. For a more detailed break down the connected devices, feel free to check out Neweggs Power Calculator for a more in-depth experience.
Buying the Most Powerful PSU is Good, but Costs More
Overall, getting a PSU with a more considerable wattage overhead means dedicating more to your budget for a better rating and connection abilities for more devices.
While the scale of power supplies compared to each other mighty now have an adequate range in cost compared to DDR5 RAM or CPUs and GPUs, the price contributes to what model offers and the safety and accessibility features included.
Choosing the Right Gaming PSU
Depending on the overall draw, picking the right PSU for you requires forethought and researching what components demand the most from your PSU. From safety features all the way to preferred connections, there is a type and functional PSU for everyone looking to get a gaming PC.
Summary of Power Supply Size for PC Gaming
Whether your getting to entry-level gaming and need a solid base to build your system on, or want to maximize your wattage overhead when dealing with higher-end components. Depending on your peripherals and workload, a higher wattage and rating may be advantageous over lower-end ones.
At Apex Gaming PCs, we strive to match each power supply to each system and offer a net of safety to those looking to configure their own in our custom builder by having recommended wattage thresholds for specific components. Our QC process ensures the PC has enough resources to go around. Whatever your wattage needs, we hope to be of service at Apex!
Written By Will Wilson
Photos: Pavan Bhakta