PC*Base #4 – Power Supplies


In this installment of PC Base we are going to cover Power Supplies. A power supply is just what the name implies. It is what will power the whole system. There isn’t much to know about power supplies without getting entirely too technical, which I will try to avoid.

There are 3 things you are looking for when you try to buy a power supply. The first is physical size. Almost all power supplies are roughly the same size give or take a few millimeters. The only time you may find them in a different size is when you are building a mITX PC. Usually a small case that won’t fit a standard power supply will provide its own so this isn’t that big of a deal.

Power supply on the left is modular, and the mess on the right is a standard power supply

The second thing to look into is whether it’s modular or not. In the past, power supplies didn’t have removable cables. In a Large ATX case this isn’t a big deal, but in smaller cases dealing with all the cables can be a pain in the butt. The thing that draws the most power is usually the graphics card. You may need to buy a strong power supply to support it. When they make bigger power supplies they tend to add extra cables for other devices requiring more space. With a modular design the cables are removable, so you only plug in and use the cables you need.

The third and probably most important thing is the wattage. This is how much power the power supply is going to use and be able to give your parts. If you buy a video card it may have a minimum power supply wattage requirement. Newer graphics cards don’t require as much power as they did a few years ago so it shouldn’t be that big of a deal. In general a 500 watt power supply should be okay by today’s standards. At one point the wattage on power supplies were pushing upwards of 1000 watts, but this shouldn’t be necessary unless you try to put 2 video cards in your computer for serious over the top gaming.

Picture of my new OCZ ZT550W power supply

One of the new things in power supplies are certifications. I’m not going to go into them here because it’s mostly marketing and tech speak that isn’t necessary to understand. However if you want to look into it you should take a look here. Basically it involves how efficient the power supply is.


Here is an unboxing and installation video of the power supply I chose

Next week we will start looking into motherboards!  Hopefully I can still keep the conversation as low-fi as possible, but it’s still going to be a big article.

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