The Bottom Line
We endeavor to provide you with easy to read information that is simple and effective. You may have noticed that we run all the tests with the same defined loads on each and every power supply we test. While that means that some of the smaller power supplies will only pass two or three of the tests, it also helps find the truly exceptional one. Maybe one 500 Watt PSU can push out 550 Watts at 45C while another 500 Watt PSU struggles to provide 400 Watts at the very same temperature. Other than sharing the same specifications on the label, the power supplies may yield very different results. This is the information you need to know and why we torture every power supply we test. We expect more than a few will fail or fall outside of ATX specifications during the torture testing.
The power supply is more of a key component in your system than most will acknowledge. Many people invest a lot of their hard earned money in a motherboard, CPU and graphics card since those can have an immediate impact on frame rates for your favorite game or benchmark. Power supplies appear to be an entirely different matter. I have yet to see where a PSU can add 10 FPS, but, then again, I have seen where the wrong PSU can certainly cost you 10 FPS or in some gruesome cases end up costing you your entire PC investment. A properly sized, quality power supply is the heart of your gaming system and should parallel your investment elsewhere. Why invest $250 in a motherboard, $200 in memory and $500 in a graphics card only to be powered by a $50 power supply? - While we certainly do not advocate everyone investing in a $300 power supply, pairing your investment to your motherboard purchase is a good start. Entry level motherboards can be as low as $40 while high end versions can run about $350 which, coincidentally, is the price range for mainstream power supplies.
This rule of thumb works as long as you consider the potential of your system. If you do not plan to fully populate the system with three graphics cards or the like, your power supply requirement will obviously be less. Still, take a good hard look at how much you spent on your system and consider a power supply purchase as a form of insurance. Make sure you have enough quality coverage.
So, simply put, determine your class of system, compare the results, read the reviews and get the right power supply. This investment will stay more relevant and current for longer than a CPU or graphics card and subsequently justifies appropriate attention and investment. Bottom line, get a good one!
We look forward to bringing you a consistent run of power supply reviews as of next week which strictly follows the testing methodology explained here today.