The Power Supply Problem

Problem…what problem?

I wanted to take some time today to touch on the very important topic of power supplies (PSU’s), what to look for and what to avoid. Part of the reason there even is a problem stems from the fact that your computer’s power supply isn’t something most people see as contributing to system performance…or so you’d think. Another key thing that factors into the power supply “problem” is the fact that the market is so over saturated with power supplies that are for lack of a better word, shit.

Knowing what to buy and pre-ceding that, what to look for is so crucial that it’s a shame this issue even exists. The first point I brought forth, the fact the PSU’s aren’t seen as a key performance factor of your system, is in itself a HUGE reason why they’re often left by the wayside. So many people are so uneducated on the topic that the power supply is usually one of the last components they make a decision on. I’m here to say that the reverse should be the case, the PSU should be decided on and have just as much consideration (if not more) put into it as every other piece of your new rig.

The power supply alone is probably THE biggest factor when it comes to system stability and can make or break a system, why on earth would you skimp on it? The over saturation of the power supply market is a huge danger, so many power supplies available today are complete garbage and are guaranteed to under perform…yet, the buyer often has no clue and is left at the mercy of whatever their buddy said is a “good buy”. The most unfortunate part of this whole scenario is that the details as to what makes a reliable power supply are not NEARLY as easy to come by or understand. One thing to remember above anything else is that wattage isn’t everything.

So much more important than wattage ratings are 1) internal components used, 2) rated operating temperature and 3) stable rails. I would like to take some time to touch on each of these three points briefly.

Internal components used in a power supply will almost entirely make or break its stability. Unfortunately this isn’t something you can find out without doing some in-depth research. Corsair is one of the brands that have constantly made use of quality components from a reliable OEM, they CAN be trusted with your cash. 🙂

The rated operating temperature may be listed at times but some manufacturers still excel in this area much more than others. What happens when a power supply gets to hot is that the power it puts out becomes exceedingly unstable and it is also less capable of putting out the wattage it’s apparently capable of in the first place. Again, Corsair’s VX, HX and TX line of power supplies are extremely efficient when dealing with higher than average operating temperatures and will maintain their stable and high quality of performance.

Stable rails are another thing to take note of. Different components of your system draw power from different “rails” of the power supply. Your 12v rail(s) are the most important as your video card(s) and your processor all draw power from this source. If your power supply has an overall high wattage rating but a weak or low rating on the 12v rail(s) you can still easily encounter system instability when stressing your system.

I don’t want to drag all this out TOO much longer, the topic is much more in-depth then I’m letting on but I wanted to take the time to touch on some of the key points that will hopefully be of good reference for someone in the future.

– Cornelious

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    • jorrit
    • April 13th, 2010

    Would a below-average power supply cause general system slowness, or rather problems of the sudden spike/dip variety?

  1. A failing or low quality power supply is more likely to cause system instability or actual damage/component death. It’s unlikely that a poor quality or dying PSU will slow down your system on a regular basis.

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