Power supply is one of the most ignored parts of computers. The average computer user will discuss configuration details of main memory, RAM, motherboard etc before purchasing a new or used PC, but ignore the importance of having a good power supply. Even experienced computer users try to save a few bucks by choosing a cheap power supply without understanding how important a computer’s power supply really is. In fact the power supply is the backbone of any computer which keeps the computer running as long as it is required.
Therefore when buying a computer, you first need to make sure that power supply of your computer is capable of supporting all those computer components installed inside. It is true that the configuration affects the performance of your computer, but if you do not have a decent power supply, then you might not be able to enjoy the benefits of having a high end computer components.
The Power Supply Unit (PSU) is the component that supplies constant stable power to your computer by converting alternating current from the power outlet to low-voltage direct current. It is also responsible for preventing the current from fluctuating too much and thus shielding your computer from different electrical hazards.
The power supply unit is a brick-shaped object mounted inside the back of the computer case. On the side of the power supply unit that faces outside the case, there is a port. It is where you plug in the power cable connected to a power source and thus switch on your computer. See the screenshot below.
Laptops and other portable computers have external power supply units.
Is Your Power Supply Adequate?
Different parts of your computer including processor and other peripheral devices need power to operate. If the power supply is not adequate, then it means that the wattage rating is not high enough to handle different components of your computer. There are many reasons that your power supply is lacking strength. Based on the number and type of your computer components, the power supply requirements also vary.
Suppose you require 500W to run your computer and if your PSU is supplying only 400W, then of course there will be issues. If you have a low-quality brand PSU, then also your computer might be at risk. Some computer users go for minimal capacity power supply unit without foreseeing extra power requirements in case of upgrading any of the computer parts including CPU, RAM, and Video Card etc. Later, when they upgrade components to increase the performance of the computer, the existing power supply unit might not be able to handle the extra load.
Consequences of using an Inadequate Power Supply
The result of an inadequate power supply varies in nature. Your computer might reboot without warning or it might even shut down without any warning. Computers are only useful if they remain on and working until the computer user specifies the time to shut down. When a computer shuts down or reboots unexpectedly, chances are high to lose all unsaved work. In short, if your computer reboots or shuts down without any specific reason, then it could be an indicator that your computer is not getting enough power supply.
Sometimes even dust on your power supply will cause the computer to shut down due to overheating. This problem can be fixed before damaging your computer but an inadequate power supply simply needs to be replaced.
A Faulty POWER Supply Can Also Cause Blue Screen of Death!
If you get Blue Screen of Death error frequently or find flashes, lines or dots on your computer screen, then you also need to check, along with other things, whether your power supply is providing enough power to your computer components. Many times, power supply issues come out when users run graphic-intensive applications or games. The issue could be because of either a bad power supply or overloaded video card. If the specifications required to run a particular application do not match with your video card model, then you might get problems. At the same time, though your video card is capable of handling those applications, if your power supply is not enough, then also your computer will react unexpectedly.
Although the computer might seem to work normally for many years, the life span of the components of your computer might be gradually shortening if the power supply is not proper. Your components might get damaged all of a sudden. As a result, you would have to replace the damaged components which might make you spend your valuable money, time and effort. But the miserable fact is that replacing the damaged components will not solve the issue permanently if the real problem is a bad power supply. You would have to replace the power supply itself in order to avoid repeating the same problem.
Choosing the Right Computer Power Supply
Once you realize that the power supply is not adequate to handle your computers needs, then the immediate action you have to take is replacing your power supply with a new one that has higher wattage output. The power supply requirement varies from computer to computer. You need to mainly consider hardware configuration, workloads, system design and operating temperature of your computer while choosing the power supply.
High performance computers with more capabilities and workload, of course, require more power to run smoothly. You also have to ensure that your computer case is large enough to fit the new PSU and it has right type of connectors to connect to the motherboard. It is always better to choose a high-quality brand power supply that is capable of handling power requirements of your computer.
Power consumption of different hardware components can vary. Still, the average power consumption details are as follows.
POWER USAGE of Your PC Parts
- USB 2W – 3W
- Hard disk drive 15W – 30W
- Solid state drive 5W – 10W
- Processor 25W – 150W
- RAM 5W – 15W
- Motherboard 25W – 75W
- Cooling fan 3W – 5W
- Video card 25W – 300W
Although this list is not complete, you can refer this to calculate the average power consumption of your computer considering the hardware configuration of your computer.
You should not go by the exact power consumption value while choosing the PSU. For example, if you find that the average power consumption of your computer is 405W, then you should go for a PSU that can supply at least 500W. If you are using your computer for normal everyday tasks, then a 500-600 watt PSU would be enough.
On the other hand, if you love to play resource hungry games with the highest settings, then you might have to go for at least a 700-750 watt Power Supply Unit. Having the right power supply is critical for smooth performance of your PC.