The best PSU for gaming is likely not the first component on your dream gaming PC build list, but it is an absolutely vital cog in your gaming machine. The PSU—or power supply unit, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing—houses the technical wizardry which supplies power to your PC. Pretty obvious really.
A PSU that’s rated to the correct wattage is especially important in this day and age. While you used to be able to get away with 750W for just about anything, nowadays some graphics cards, such as the RTX 3090, are better off with bigger units upwards of 850W—especially when paired with thirsty CPUs, such as Intel’s 10900K.
But not all power supplies are created equal and if you make a bad pick it might not just mean purchasing a new unit, a failing PSU could take out all of your expensive PC gear in one fell sparking swoop.
Careful consideration here will pay dividends in the long run. A well-built PSU will keep your components fed with clean power day in, day out—thus ensuring a healthy and long life without issue. The best graphics cards require higher voltage PSUs or you’ll risk not unlocking the card’s full power. And while it might be tempting to just go with the highest wattage PSU you can get your hands on, there are several things that you’ll want to consider before making your purchase.
The wattage is one of the first things you’ll want to look at on any potential power supply unit. You need to make sure that the PSU has enough juice to power all of your PC’s components while leaving a wiggle room for better efficiency.
You might have noticed that power supply units might be a little challenging to find in stock these days, so be sure to check this page periodically to see when our favorites become back in stock. Thankfully the best PSUs are starting to filter back onto the shelves.
Best PSU for gaming
Corsair’s RM-series power supplies have been an enthusiast favorite for years now. The company has developed a strong reputation as one of the leaders in reliability and warranty service for PSUs. The latest RMX line features improved components, a quiet fan, and a fantastic price point. The usual features that made the series a hit are, of course, still present. That includes 80 Plus Gold certification, fully modular cables, and a generous 10-year warranty.
We’ve used RMX power supplies for years here at PC Gamer and have never had an issue with any of them. Priced just slightly above competing modular 80 Plus Gold power supplies, the RM850x features up to 850 Watts of continuous power, which is more than most users will need for even multi-GPU builds. Reliability and a great balance of performance and features make the RM850x our all-around top choice for power supplies.
When you’re on a tight budget, it can be tempting to disregard major brands and choose the cheapest power supply available. In some cases, you might even be okay doing so, but we can’t stress enough that power supplies should be given serious thought. Spending just a few more dollars can mean the difference between only a simple power supply failure or a catastrophic one that takes down other components with it.
Cooler Master’s MasterWatt series is our favorite choice for budget builds. They aren’t the cheapest power supplies around, but they offer a whole lot more than their cheaper counterparts. 80 Plus, Bronze certification, clean design with semi-modular cables, and an excellent five-year warranty make the MasterWatt a safe bet with great value for users on a budget.
If you’re building a small form factor computer with a mini-ITX or otherwise compact case, using a standard ATX power supply will be either extraordinarily cumbersome or downright impossible. That’s where SFX and small power supplies come in handy. If your mini-ITX case doesn’t include a built-in power supply, the FSP Dagger is our top recommendation.
It may not be a recognizable brand to some, but FSP is a major manufacturer of power supplies. The company has been responsible for creating PSUs for Antec, SilverStone, Thermaltake, and many others for years. FSP’s Dagger 500W is excellent for compact builds due to its high-efficiency ratings and full modularity. These features make it easier to install while also keeping high temperatures at bay, which is critical to consider with any small form factor build.
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Whether you love it or hate it, RGB has just about made its way to every single component in the PC hardware space. A light-up power supply is only natural if you’re a builder on a mission to fill an entire case with RGB components. There aren’t a whole lot of options since most modern cases cover the entire power supply, but the Gamdias Astrape would be our main recommendation here.
The Astrape 750G features high-quality Japanese capacitors, 80 Plus Gold certification, and fully modular cables. The built-in fan comes with addressable RGB LEDs with 26 different lighting effects. These animations were much nicer than the other options we’ve tested, but the controls are inconveniently located behind the power supply. Gamdias isn’t the most recognizable brand when it comes to power supplies, but the Astrape has high-quality capacitors backed by a ten-year warranty.
Digitally monitored power supplies have been around for a few years now, but none have come bundled with as useful software as NZXT’s E-series. The E850 is one of the most expensive 850 Watt Gold certified power supplies on the market, yet we can’t help but recommend it in this guide. The build quality, design, and overall feature set make it a solid choice for enthusiast builds.
The E850 is powered by NZXT’s CAM software, an all-in-one hardware monitoring tool that provides valuable insight for both gamers and enthusiasts. The E-series power supplies can track in real-time Wattage draw from the CPU, GPU, and attached peripherals. Additional insights include temperatures, power-on time, voltage, and fan speeds. This information isn’t exactly essential, but for those concerned or curious to know exactly how much power their PC and its parts are consuming, NZXT’s E850 is the most consumer-friendly option available.
The 80 Plus certification standard has been around for quite some time now, but only recently has the 80 Plus Titanium certification become available. Unlike the Bronze through Platinum certifications, Titanium is the only level that measures efficiency at low loads. This is particularly important since most power supplies aren’t operating at full load all of the time.
There aren’t a whole lot of options available when it comes to Titanium rated PSUs, but Seasonic’s Prime Titanium would have to be our favorite. This power supply is likely the beefiest one you’ll need. Unless you’re running a full stack of power-hungry GPUs, 1000 Watts is more than enough for a high-end machine. The Prime Titanium features everything you’d expect in a high-end PSU, including the highest quality internal components, fully modular cables, and a suite of useful accessories.
Best of all, the power supply comes with a staggering 12-year warranty. It indeed says a lot about reliability when a company is willing to back their product for over a decade. Seasonic’s Prime Titanium may be pricey, but a high-end machine deserves a high-end power supply.
Choosing the best power supplies
You don’t need a degree in rocket science to work out the wattage requirements for your system. The recommended system power requirement listed on the specs list for your current or future graphics card is a great place to start. Still, we recommend using an online power calculator to get the most accurate figure. OuterVision’s Power Supply Calculator is our go-to.
Once you’ve found out the wattage you’ll need for your PC; you’ll need to decide what efficiency you can afford. Power supply manufacturers all tend to agree to the same PSU efficiency rating system: 80 Plus.
There are six ratings to look out for with your PSU:
- 80 Plus
An 80 PLUS Titanium certified power supply is more efficient than a Bronze one, meaning the parts within waste less power (as heat) during the AC to DC conversion. These are often measured across three load levels: 20%, 50%, and 100%. Most PSUs tend to be rated at their most efficient at 50%, although Titanium PSUs tend to perform just as well, if not better, under heavy load.
Higher efficiency also means the internal components are subjected to less heat and are likely to have a longer lifespan. They may cost a bit more, but higher certified power supplies do tend to be more reliable than others. Luckily, most manufacturers offer warranties.
The reliability, customer support, warranty, and manufacturer reputations are among the first things we looked for when choosing the best power supplies. Since there isn’t exactly a single solution that makes sense for every build, we decided on several categories to fit the needs of more PC gamers. For each, we also took into account budgets, compatibility, unique features, and design.
Our top selections were made based on a combination of the criteria listed above and overall efficiency ratings. While it isn’t by any means the all-telling solution for PSU performance, the 80 PLUS certification program provides some form of standardization and expectations for efficiency. More efficient PSUs mean less heat and lower energy consumption.
It also pays to future-proof against any upgrades further down the line. A modular PSU will allow you to add extra cables as needed or remove unused ones to free up valuable room inside your case. This is handy if you’ve got your heart set on a second graphics card or just want the flexibility of being able to add other peripheral connections later.
As a word of warning, compatibility is a significant factor when it comes to power supply units. Using cables from different PSUs could put your entire PC at risk, so stick with the ones provided. To complicate things further, not all PSU cables, even if they are from the same manufacturer, are going to be universally compatible. If you absolutely must splinter from the cables included, have a look at your PSU’s PIN connectors and make sure your cable set has ones that match to avoid any unnecessary frustration and breakages.