When you’re building a PC, you probably get really excited about the CPU, graphics card, and maybe the case—but the power supply is the least sexy part of any build. It is, however, one of the most important—so it requires just as much deliberation as your other components.
It isn’t always about brand name, either—some brands can make great PSUs in one part of their product line, and less-than-stellar PSUs in another bracket. Plus, you’ll need to decide how much efficiency you require (which can affect heat and noise levels), what kind of connectors you need (does your CPU require one 8-pin connector or two?), and whether you want to pay extra for modularity (so you aren’t stuffing unused cables behind the motherboard). When you have a limited budget, it’s all a balancing act, on top of finding a power supply made with quality components that won’t harm your system—oh, and check the warranty length, too.
Overwhelmed? We’ve got you covered. First, figure out the required wattage of your system by plugging your components into Newegg’s power supply calculator. They’ll give you a (very) rough estimate of the wattage you should look for when buying a PSU. Then factor in how much you can afford for extras (seriously, get a modular or semi-modular power supply if you can), and grab one of the models below—they should fit the bill for most people.
Best Budget Power Supply: EVGA 500 BA
If you’re building a more modest PC for 1080p gaming—using midrange components like NVIDIA’s GTX 1660 Super—you don’t need to go overboard with your wattage. EVGA’s 500 BA power supply is under $60, and gets you the most important stuff without the frills. It’s only 80 Plus Bronze certified for efficiency, and it isn’t modular, but it’s well-built and should deliver stable power to your system. Note that its warranty is only 3 years, however, and you won’t have a ton of headroom for higher-end components in the future—so keep that in mind as you consider the money you spend in the long run, as a power supply can last multiple builds as long as it has the wattage for future upgrades. If you need more wattage, EVGA also offers a 600W version.
A Semi-Modular Step Up: EVGA 650GQ
If you have a bit more to spend, I highly, highly recommend a semi-modular power supply like the EVGA 650GQ. Not only does it up the efficiency to 80+ Gold, but it allows you to detach any extra cables you aren’t using. The crucial motherboard and CPU cables are still permanently attached, but you can plug in your GPU power, SATA power, and other accessories separately, so you don’t have unused cables taking up space and ruining your cable management. Couple that with a 5-year warranty and 650 watts of power—which is enough for the vast majority of even high-end gamers—and you’ve got a pretty great power supply for your next build.
For Small Form Factor Builds: Corsair SF600
I’m a big, big fan of small form factor gaming PCs. It’s amazing how much power you can fit in a tiny case these days, provided your hands are nimble enough to cram everything in its place. Super small form-factor builds may require specialized power solutions, but typical builds—like those using the awesome Fractal Design Node 202 case—only need slightly smaller power supplies using the SFX form factor. For those, I recommend looking at Corsair’s SF line, which delivers high-quality power in a compact package. The SF600 should be enough for most folks, though you can step down to the SF450 to save a few bucks or up to the SF750 if you need more power.
Best Fully Modular Power Supply: Corsair RM750x
If you need more power or more connectors than wallet-friendly power supplies can handle, you’ll need to step up a bit in price. But that’s okay, because Corsair’s fantastic RMx series can not only bring the power at 80+ Gold efficiency, it’s fully modular, meaning you can plug in only the cables you need—or swap them all out entirely for custom braided cables. I’m actually using the Corsair RM750x in my own gaming PC, which comes in black or white, and it’s an absolute champ, especially in its ability to keep the noise level down. (Plus, it looks great with my black-and-blue CableMod cables). If you need even more power, the RM850x only costs a few bucks more—oh, and both models come with a 10-year warranty, which offers some solid peace of mind.
I’m going to spoil your fun right here: you probably don’t need a 1000W, 80+ Platinum power supply. Sure, it’s near top-of-the-line, but it’s just overkill for most builds, and that money could be much better spent elsewhere. That said, if you’re running a Ryzen Threadripper CPU with an RTX 3090 with intense water cooling all around, a 1000 watt power supply may start making sense, and Seasonic’s Prime 1000 Platinum is one of the best around (with a 12 year warranty to boot). Oh, and if Platinum is just not enough for you, there’s also an 80+ Titanium model if you really want unlimited power.