The PC playground is full of components, all vying for the title of the most important part of your rig. Everybody has a different opinion; for some it’s the processor, all that maths squeezed into a tiny bit of silicon; for others it’s the graphics card, boards designed specifically to throw pixels about your panel like plates at a Greek wedding. But where would either of those supermodels of the component world be without a compatible motherboard backing them up? Nowhere. And that’s where your PC will end up without a decent power supply keeping the whole lot juiced to the gunnels.
If you make a really bad choice of PSU, your entire rig may end up a smoldering heap at the e-waste recycling point of your local Pikitup. Cascade effects from faulty, or even from just under-powering supplies, can have unpleasant repercussions on the rest of the components making their home in your PC.
Repercussions such as turning your precious $1 000 pixel-pusher into so much molten slag…
Choosing the PSU is then an important part of the PC-building experience, so in this article we’ll make that choice a bit easier for you. Will you need a monolithic supply to keep that multi-GPU, desktop giant in check? Or can you make do with something a little more conservative?
At the top-end of the power-hungry PC spectrum are the gaming behemoths that AMD and NVIDIA have created through their quest for multi-GPU goodness. While CPU manufacturers have recently changed tack from simply upping clockspeeds to taking into account the power consumption of their respective processors, the graphics arena has doggedly stuck to the quest for speed. As such, power draw for the latest CPUs has stayed constant over the last few generations compared to their thirstier GPU brethren.
In the graphics market, the sky’s the limit power-wise – the latest 9800GX2 from NVIDIA alone runs at nearly 200W. According to some sources the GTX280 just around the corner could well be around 40W higher. Stick two of those babies in SLI and not only will you be light in the wallet, but you’re going to be taxing the hell out of any PSU you plug these graphics monsters int