If you want to build your own gaming PC, it’s important that you know how to buy a good power supply for your needs. In this article, we’re going to walk you through all of our top picks for the best gaming PSUs, as well as a detailed buying guide.
You don’t need to be hyper tech-savvy to make a good choice: that’s what we’re here for. We’ve included the buying guide to make sure that even if you don’t buy a power supply today, you’re equipped with the knowledge to make an educated decision in the future.
What’s the best PSU for gaming?
Hey, enough setup, let’s hop into it.
#1. EVGA BR 450
Wattage: 450 Watt | Efficiency: 80+ Bronze | Modularity: None | Warranty Period: 3 Years
The EVGA BR 450 is one of the cheapest PSUs on the market, and definitely the cheapest one we’re willing to recommend. (Do not buy PSUs from untrusted brands, no matter how cheap they are! Trust us on this one!)
If you just need a cheap power supply to get your budget gaming system up and running, then the EVGA BR 450 should do fine. It has a Bronze-level efficiency, a super low price point, and plenty of wattage for budget gaming systems. However…
We really only recommend using this one in an ATX case with ample room for cable management. The low price comes with some sacrifices, and in this case that means a non-modular design. All of your cables are attached to your PSU at all times, and all of them must be managed at all times, even if they aren’t being used.
A sizeable ATX case with good cable management is a must for this PSU. Otherwise, save your money for the next option up.
Verdict: Best Cheap Power Supply
#2. Corsair CXM 450
Wattage: 450 Watt | Efficiency: 80+ Bronze | Modularity: Semi | Warranty Period: 5 Years
The Corsair CXM 450 is another cheaper power supply, but it offers all the essentials you should be looking for in a gaming power supply. Even though it’s cheap, it offers your basic 450 Watts and Bronze certification, alongside the comfortable 5 year warranty period.
Most importantly for your building experience, it’s also a Semi-Modular power supply, which should make it a perfect fit for just about any PC that falls within its power budget. (Which will be most budget PCs available right now- even a PC with a Ryzen 5 3600 and 2060 Super is in safe operating range for this PSU, as long as you don’t overclock them.)
The only scenario where this shouldn’t work for you is in a super space-constrained PC build, or any other scenario where you would want to replace the motherboard power cable. (Like for aesthetics, rather than length of cable management reasons.)
For the majority of people building PCs with today’s hardware, this PSU will do the job perfectly.
Verdict: Best Budget Power Supply
Wattage: 550 Watt | Efficiency: 80+ Gold | Modularity: Full | Warranty Period: 10 Years
The EVGA SuperNOVA GA 550 is a fully-modular power supply on a budget. Unfortunately, being fully-modular still means that it costs a lot more than a semi- or non-modular power supply would, but for fully-modular PSUs…trust us, this price point is a bargain.
For your money, you get more than just full modularity. You also get an upgrade to a very confident 10 year warranty, a 550 Watt capacity, and even Gold efficiency for better power usage and thermals inside your PC. If you’re insistent on a fully-modular PSU for whatever reason and your PC can also fit full ATX power supplies, then the EVGA SuperNOVA GA 550 is a great pick for you.
If you need something even smaller but also fully-modular, check out our two SFX picks a bit later in the article. If you want more raw wattage, we also have a few picks there, too.
Verdict: Best Budget Fully-Modular Power Supply
Wattage: 550 Watt | Efficiency: 80+ Gold | Modularity: Full | Warranty Period: 5 Years
Last but not least for what we consider “standard” power supplies is the be quiet! Pure Power 11. Like our previous pick, this is 550 Watt PSU with 80+ Gold efficiency and Full Modularity. Where it diverges is in be quiet!‘s design, which is…
You get the idea. This PSU and its higher watt variants are all excellent choices if you want a truly quiet power supply. If you don’t really care about PSU noise, then you don’t need to concern yourself with spending the extra for a power supply like this. Our high-wattage picks at the end of the article also have good noise levels, but unless you need quietness and high wattage, this PSU should do you just fine.
Verdict: Best Quiet Power Supply
Wattage: 450 Watt | Efficiency: 80+ Gold | Modularity: Full | Warranty Period: 7 Years
The EVGA SuperNova 450 (SFX) is our pick for best budget SFX power supply. That’s because…
You get the idea by now. It’s one of the cheapest SFX PSUs available, and it’s a pretty solid product. 450 Watts, Gold Efficiency, and Full Modularity all make it an excellent match for your SFF PC build. It even has a 7 year warranty period, which is really good for an SFX PSU. So, what’s the catch?
The same catch there is with every other SFX PSU: these things are expensive, especially capacity-wise, for what you’re getting in return. But if you need an SFX PSU, it’s not like you have any meaningfully cheaper options, so…this is just what you get, pretty much.
If your build can fit a standard ATX PSU and you don’t actually need the smaller form factor, get one of the other PSUs on this list. Otherwise, go with this or the next pick if you need the smallest possible PSU.
Verdict: Best Budget SFX Power Supply
Wattage: 700 Watt | Efficiency: 80+ Platinum | Modularity: Full | Warranty Period: 3 Years
The SilverStone SX700-LPT (SFX) is our pick for the best SFX power supply overall, because specs-wise…it just is. At the time of writing, this is the highest-capacity SFX power supply available on the market, complete with an 80+ Platinum efficiency rating and the full modularity we’ve come to expect from high-end power supplies.
The only points we have against it are the warranty period- which definitely veers low for a power supply- and the high price for available capacity. SilverStone is a reputable PSU manufacturer, though, so we’re still comfortable recommending this one.
Don’t care about a Platinum efficiency rating, but want a longer warranty period? If you don’t mind slightly less wattage, get this EVGA SuperNova 650 GM SFX PSU instead!
Verdict: Best SFX Power Supply
#7. EVGA 1000 GQ
Wattage: 1000 Watt | Efficiency: 80+ Gold | Modularity: Semi | Warranty Period: 5 Years
The EVGA 1000 GQ is our pick for the best budget 1000 Watt PSU. It’s one of the cheapest-available 1000 Watt PSUs, as you probably guessed from the “budget” title we’ve assigned it, but it still comes with plenty of great features. Gold Efficiency- especially at a wattage this high, which you’re unlikely to hit with most consumer systems- is a great thing. Semi-Modularity will cover all but the most extremely custom or tiny PC builds, and a 5 year warranty is pretty solid.
We don’t really have anything to complain about. It’s more pricey than other options are, but of course it is! It offers twice the wattage as our other picks, and that isn’t free.
Verdict: Best Budget 1000 Watt Power Supply
#8. Corsair HX1200
Wattage: 1200 Watt | Efficiency: 80+ Platinum | Modularity: Full | Warranty Period: 10 Years
Last but certainly not least is the Corsair HX1200, which we’ve crowned as our pick for the best high-end power supply. In a range mostly dominated by EVGA, it’s always nice to see an underdog come back out on top, right?
…assigning narratives to product selection aside, rest assured: this is our top pick because, in our eyes, it is legitimately the best high-end power supply you can buy today. It offers superb Platinum efficiency, 1200 watts of capacity- more than the 1000W PSUs in its price range- and a whopping 10 year warranty. It’s also reasonably quiet in operation, thanks in no small part to the high efficiency and the fact that most of you are still very unlikely to ever actually push this baby to its full capacity.
The only real downside is the price, but that’s to be expected. If you want the best, you should be prepared to pay for the best.
Verdict: Best High-End Power Supply / Best Gaming Power Supply
Want a quieter alternative with a little less wattage? Get this be Quiet! PSU (note that it has a 5-Year Warranty)
How to choose a PSU for a gaming PC?
In this section, we’re going to walk you through everything you need to know about getting a power supply. If any of the specs listed above or jargon was unclear, this section should help.
A word on PSU brands, and not buying from no-names
We’re going to keep this part short:
A bad PSU can result in a bricked PC in the best case scenario. You don’t want to grab the cheapest PSUs you can find, because they aren’t just potentially dangerous for your PC- they’re dangerous for you. Don’t mess around with cheapo power supplies unless you’re comfortable risking a house fire.
How much wattage do you need?
Probably less than you think, but let’s break down what “need” means in this context.
If all you want is to provide enough power for your system to safely function, getting a PSU with 50 or so watts over your maximum power draw should do the job.
However, a PSU running in these conditions will be an efficiency nightmare and result in a lot of excess power consumption and heat exhausted into your chassis. For ideal efficiency results, get a PSU with a high efficiency rating and 200+ watts to spare for your power budget.
The best way to check what you need is to use a tool like this. The figures provided below are more for general guidance than a hard science.
- 400-500 – Budget and entry-level gaming PCs with modern, low power consumption parts.
- 600-700 – Most mid-range gaming PCs fit safely within this range, with power to spare.
- 800-1000 – High-end PCs, or mid-range PCs with a goal of high efficiency.
- 1000 and higher – High-end PCs with a goal of high efficiency, or super high-end PCs. Consumer PCs don’t really consume this much power on their own these days, though.
How does PSU efficiency work?
The efficiency rating of a power supply describes how little power the PSU is capable of consuming at a given time. With better PSU efficiency, your system will consume much less power during idle use and casual use. A theoretical PSU with a zero percent efficiency rating would run at full draw all the time, regardless of how it’s being used.
An additional concern with PSU efficiency beyond raw power consumption is heat. Excess power draw will be exhausted as heat into the rest of your chassis, which can be a particular issue if you’re in a smaller PC case.
Below, we’ve listed the common power efficiency ratings and what they mean.
- 80+ – A bare minimum rating of 80 percent power efficiency, but can go higher. Since this often comes with ultra low-capacity PSUs, doesn’t tend to be very efficient in practice.
- 80+ Bronze – Provides a minimum power efficiency of 82%, but can go higher. Considered the bare minimum these days.
- 80+ Gold – Provides a minimum efficiency of 87%, but averages higher. A high standard that offers the greatest improvement over base 80+ and Bronze, and cuts down a lot on excess heat.
- 80+ Platinum – Provides a minimum efficiency of 89%, but averages higher. The highest standard for many years, and the one considered high-end by most.
- 80+ Titanium – Provides a minimum efficiency of 90%, but averages higher. The latest and greatest standard, but much more expensive than the others. We haven’t included any in this roundup, because these cost literally twice the amount of their Platinum counterparts on a good day for no real practical advantage.
What are the different levels of modularity, and why do they matter?
Modularity mainly impacts building experience, but may also have some deeper considerations for more custom PC builds. Here are the three tiers of modularity, and how they impact things:
- Non-Modular – All cables are attached to the PSU at all times. Particularly not recommended for use in Mini ITX cases or other SFF PC builds.
- Semi-Modular – All cables can be detached except the motherboard power cable. This should work fine for any standard Mini ITX, Micro ATX, or ATX case.
- Fully-Modular – All cables can be detached. This is ideal for when you want to replace with your own cables, for length or color reasons, for specialized builds. Unnecessary for common use.
What is the difference between standard ATX and SFX power supplies?
ATX power supplies are the standard size for PC power supplies, and are compatible with the vast majority of cases, barring some HTPC/Mini ITX cases.
SFX power supplies are smaller PC power supplies, and should actually be compatible with the same cases…but because they’re smaller, they have lower peak capacities and cost a lot more. You should really only be using these if you need them due to case requirements or for extra cable management space in a cramped Mini ITX case.
And that’s it!
We hope that you’ve learned everything you need to know about getting a power supply in this article. If you have any questions left over, feel free to leave a comment in the comments section! We’d be happy to help.