These days, it's not always simple to choose the ideal power supply unit for one's needs. Faced with a bewildering array of manufacturers, brands, models and wattage levels, casual buyers often judge by outward appearances, attractive prices, or nominal wattage ratings. However, seasoned hardware enthusiasts generally shop for a power supply that's earned a reputation for quality and reliability, with appropriate wattage and price as secondary considerations. The consequences of a badly-chosen power supply may include system instability, lockups, BSODs, hard-disk corruption, and even catastrophic power-supply failure which damages other components; it's not simply a case of, say, losing a few 3DMarks because one chose a stylish-looking video card that happened to have slow RAM. The power supply is fundamental to the rest of the computer, and merits as much care as any other hardware purchase.



Aftermarket power-supplies seem to fall into one of three market segments. The budget segment covers mainstream home/office computers used for general Internet and office work, where a good-quality 400-watt unit would be more than adequate. The midrange segment covers the requirements of enthusiasts running upper-end video cards, additional drives, demanding CPUs, and perhaps overclocking. The most demanding (and profitable) segment is the high-end enthusiast market, where it's the norm to find multiple GPUs, advanced overclocking and cooling, many drives, and sometimes multiple CPUs.

Tangentially, for an everyday home/office user whose computer's needs won't exceed 400 watts, we suggest our European readers consider the be quiet! brand. be quiet! has earned a reputation for reliable, stable power supplies offering good value, good support, and respectable appearance. The company boasts a unique 48-hour exchange service for customers in Germany, Poland, and France. be quiet! was one of the first companies to recognize the desire for super-quiet power supplies, and still offers some of the quietest units on the market, but the excellent support and exchange service are also major selling points for buyers in Europe.

In the mid-range and high-end enthusiast segments of the market, we see a tremendous selection of power supplies with a wide range of wattages, ranging as high as 1600 watts. While most of us will agree that 1600 watts borders on the ridiculous, it certainly illustrates that power-supply manufacturers listen to the market, and will build what people want to buy. At AnandTech, we have tested various models from 1000 to 1300 watts this year, but have no immediate plans to go beyond that. For 2008, we will focus on a wider range of mid-range power supplies rated at up to ~850 watts, which is still quite potent.

Power Supplies of the Year
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  • JimK - Thursday, December 20, 2007 - link

    Not saying its recommended, and I'm sure I'm on the ragged edge, but I'm running a 350w ps. My hardware is:

    Asus P5N-E SLI (Nvidia 650i)
    Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 @ 3.2ghz
    2 gig GSkill DDR8-800 4-4-3-5
    XFX 8800GT AlphaDog
    2 x 320gig Seagate 7200.10
    Samsung H-S203B
    Rosewill RCR-102 Card Reader

    I've been playing the demo of UT 3 at 1600x1200 all the visual details turned up without any problems. I usually play 20 minutes at a crack but have played stretches over an hour.
    Reply
  • Inkjammer - Thursday, December 20, 2007 - link

    Y'know, what's sad... the first thought I had looking at the pic of power supplies stacked one upon another: "Yep, and it's going to take that much juice to power the nextgen GeForce card, too."

    But in all seriousness, these articles on power supplies have really helped me build better, more energy efficient computers. Even with my GTX cards.
    Reply
  • Hypernova - Thursday, December 20, 2007 - link

    I got an Antech P182 case and I'm looking for some XFire PSU for it. PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750 QUAD looked hopeful but after some measuring around my case it seems its 8 pin EPS cable isn't long enough. Is there any PSU with long cables and has 2 8 pin PCI-E connectors? Reply
  • blackcurtain - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    pcpower used to custom build connectors. they would build you a PSU with whatever connectors and length you want for an extra fee.
    however I don't know if they still offer this since merging with OCZ.
    Reply
  • richensw - Thursday, December 20, 2007 - link

    I have the Antec P182 and I use the Seasonic M12 700w.

    All the motherboard (EVGA 680i) power cables go around the back (behind the mobo) of the case and through the holes at the top and plug in fine.

    It also has 2 modular PCI-E outputs, and each cable splits into two PCI-E connectors, so that's 4 in total.
    Reply
  • n0nsense - Thursday, December 20, 2007 - link

    "The Corsair TX750W has the following connectors: 20+4-pin motherboard, 4+4-pin ATX/EPS, four 6+2-pin PCI Express, eight 4-pin molex, two 4-pin floppy, and eight Serial ATA interfaces. The four 8-pin PCI Express connectors (that are also compatible with 6-pin PCI-E connectors) is enough for four graphics cards or running two ATI Radeon HD 2900XT graphics cards. These power cables are long enough for even the largest of ATX cases, such as the SilverStone Temjin TJ10. All of these power supply cables are also sleeved."

    http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&...">http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&...
    Reply
  • Hypernova - Thursday, December 20, 2007 - link

    That looks interesting but the 8pin appears to be a convert from the 6pin not a native 8 pin. Isn't that going to affect the output a bit? Reply
  • HOOfan 1 - Thursday, December 20, 2007 - link

    Look into the Corsair TX750. I don't know about it specifically, but I know a bunch of people complain about the other Corsairs having cables that are TOO long. Reply
  • gaakf - Thursday, December 20, 2007 - link

    I think it should be mentioned that Seasonic makes power supplies for Antec and Corsair as well. Corsair's line of power supplies is excellent and Antec's 380W Earthwatts power supply offers an unbeatable price/quiet performance ratio at $30 on newegg. (promo EMC1213CASE01) Reply
  • JEDIYoda - Monday, December 24, 2007 - link

    Don`t make too much out of that...
    Some of these companyes hasd there own engineers and solely choose Seasonic based on qualilty of workmanship!!

    Just because Seasonic is the OEM does not make that a Seasonic PSU!!

    Peace~!
    Reply

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