What is a Computer Power Supply? | Best of Everything PC

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A computer power supply, also known as a PSU is the main power source of the computer. It is what connects the mains of your home to the computer and then the power supply distributes the power to all the different components to be able to power on. The power supply unit converts 110-115 or 220-230 volts into a steady low-volt that is usable by the computer. You should never attempt to take a power unit a part as it can cause you some serious bodily harm. There are capacitors in the unit that can hold charge for hours after being turned off and unplugged from the mains.

Where is the Power Supply Located

The location of the PSU completely depends on the case that you have it in. If you have your standard HP case like when I first started out, it is located as the top of the case. If you purchase an aftermarket case it will most likely be as the bottom of the case, and only held in with 3-4 screws. Some cases have shrouds along the bottom of the case that hides the power unit and wires to make it a lot tidier than most cases have a tempered glass side so you can see the internals. As you can see in this image there is a panel above the power supply which when the side panel is on will hide the unit as we said earlier, then you would feed the wires up through the rubber grommets or around the back of the case so the wires are a lot tidier.

Choice on Power Wattage

There are different watt outputs for different power supplies, you have anything from around 350w up to around 1200watt, all of which will have the power output on the exterior of the case somewhere.

The one you will require completely depends on the components that you have installed in your gaming PC. The older CPU’s take up less power than the newer generations, however these take very little power anyway, which is similar to your computer memory will take a little power to operate. Your main concern is the graphics card that you have installed, the more powerful the GPU the more power it will require to operate, but you will also need to take into consideration the amount of fans that you have installed to cool your computer, the type of CPU cooler that you have installed and also any RGB (red, green and blue) lights that you have installed as you can purchase fans that have lights built in, and you can purchase light strips to put in the case.

What is Powered by the PSU

The PSU supplies power to numerous components, first off is the motherboard. You have a 24 pin go directly into the side of the motherboard which powers the motherboard, memory, and also the fans that are plugged directly into the motherboard however there is another 4 pin plug usually located as the top of the motherboard and this is where it powers up the CPU. It also powers the graphics card you will have anywhere between 4 pin plug to an 8 pin plug depending on how powerful your graphics card is. You will also have power supply for the hard drives and SSD’s depending on what you have installed, these are classed as SATA. This is also the same plug for any peripherals that you have installed, for example if you install a lot of fans with RGB you won’t be able to plug them into the motherboard so you will need to purchase a commander to control all the fans and lights and this commander will use the same one.

Manufactures Choices

There is a massive choice of power supplies on the market from many brands, but as always there are some main manufactures that are well-known for the good quality parts and reliability and general customer services. The main one’s that you will most likely hear about would be one’s like Corsair, Cooler Master, and Thermaltake but there are many other one’s that you can choose from depending on how much of a budget you have, what power output you want from it and also if you want it to have any RGB lights as they do offer this on power units as well

 

Non-Modular, Partially Modular or Modular?

There are 3 different types of computer power supplies once you have figured out what brand and power output you want.

This depends on how tidy you want your computer to look, if you go with a standard power supply it will have all the wires coming out of the power supply, some of them will be wrapped and others not. This is known and a non-modular power supply as the wires are built in. if you are going for a tidy look as you have a glass case then your best option would be a modular psu as you can see from the picture to the right you can use only the wires you need rather than having excess wires to hide. Along with this you can purchase aftermarket wiring kits that match the colour of your build to make it stand out from the rest and to make it even tidier again.
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2 Responses

  1. Hi Ben,

    I figured this out the hard way. I was building myself a PC. Had read all the power supply needs etc and worked out my needs.

    Purchased all the parts then tried to put them together. They didn’t quite fit. The hard drive or something didn’t have the right connector. I do a bit of auto-electrical repairs so seen the right connector on my old pc.

    I had to cut off the wire to get the right connector then soldered the wire on and used heatshrink. It worked! But I learned.

    Don’t you think I would have been better off getting the one with the right leads in the first place? Also, I’m sure it would be fine just changing the end as it wouldn’t overload one line?

    I am still using this pc right now.

    Regards,

    Alan

    • I can’t say I have heard of this myself, however I believe if you order a modular psu, you will have a bag of cables for the different connectors required. I can’t say I have experienced this problem yet

      Thank you

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