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What you should know before you buy a

Computer Power Supply (PSU).


What is a Power Supply / PSU ?

The power supply or PSU is quite often the most overlooked component within a personal computer. It is the part of the system that supplies electrical current to all the other parts of the system. it usually looks like a silver or black box, that is bolted to the case, with various multicoloured wires and connectors coming from it. Computer Solutions will happily advise on what is best for your requirements.

What should I know about buying a PSU ?

This answer to this question which gets asked a lot is that it depends on what the computer is going to be used for and how much you are likely to expand your PC in the future. It also depends on whether on whether you are going to use the standard type ATX case or the newer Mini ITX cases.

If for example the computer is just going to be used at home for a bit of web surfing, has onboard graphics and sound, with a very basic budget motherboard installed then one of the bottom end 300 - 500 Watt models will be perfectly adequate and will cost between in the region of about £25.00 plus fitting.

This would also be true of an office worksation PC which is connected to a server of some description as the server is likely to be doing much of the work. The desktop PC is just a way of communicating with it.

Typically more power will be required with PC's that are going to be used in a graphically intensive environment. This could include gamers or designers who use specialised graphics hardware installed in their systems.

Most power supplies will quote an "efficiency figure" which is based on laboratory tests, remember this is not the "real world" and these figures will probably not be reached under normal conditions, but anything over 80% can be considered good.

More power please ?

For applications when more power is required, there are specialist power supplies. Usually these will have higher wattages (600 Watts to 1KW). They will also usually have larger fans and additional connectors specifically for those graphics cards that require them. They will typically have higher efficiency ratings too.

Modular power supplies ?

Computer Solutions really like the concept of modular power supplies. These power supplies have plug in style connectors and when fitting them you only use the connectors that you require. This reduces the amount of untidy wiring in the case and also aids airflow around the major components. This will mean that your computer will run a lot cooler and fail less.

We've been building computers for around 25 years and as well as having seen some horror stories over the years we've seen some really nice examples, with tidy wiring, using modular power supplies.

Which make of PSU should I consider ?

There are three main makes of power supply that we would consider. these are Antec, Corsair and CIT PSU's. All three manufacturers do a range of power supplies to cover most applications. These are extremely robust PSU's. Antec in particular also supply them pre-installed in their cases, which can represent a saving if you are buying the computer case and PSU together.

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