Which Corsair power supply is best for gaming
PC power supplies in the test: comparison and purchase advice for spring 2021
tl; dr:Which power supply fits which PC and how much power does it have to be? On the basis of current test reports, ComputerBase provides constantly updated assistance when choosing from a confusing range of products on the market. A distinction is made between office, multimedia and gaming PCs.
How much power does the power supply need?
Which power supply is the best choice for your own computer depends above all on the planned components such as the graphics card and your own priorities in terms of volume, warranty period or optics. Also, a 150-euro power supply in a 500-euro system makes no more sense than a 40-euro power supply in a 1,000-euro computer. Buying unnecessarily powerful power supplies can have a negative effect on efficiency and at the prices of an 80Plus bronze power supply with over 600 watts there are, for example, 450 watt power supplies that have a higher efficiency certification according to 80Plus Gold.
On the basis of current tests of power supplies and the best lists derived from them, ComputerBase gives purchase recommendations in the price range from just under 45 to 150 euros. Form factors other than ATX are also an issue.
Power supply calculator not helpful in dimensioning
When it comes to finding the right power supply class for a gaming PC, there are many opposing opinions. Graphics card manufacturers are particularly excessive with regard to the performance specifications, because the recommendation is made regardless of the rest of the system and the quality of the power supply - and supposedly sufficiently strong cheap power supplies cannot deliver their full rated power at all.
Power supply calculator exaggerate
Power supply computers take the individual configuration into account more precisely, but also exaggerate with the determined wattage requirement. Only the maximum consumption of each individual component is included in the calculation. In addition, large amounts of power are added across the board for drives and fans, regardless of whether it is an economical SSD or a high-speed HDD. The calculation may be good for a worst-case estimate with synthetic full load, but gaming systems consume significantly less power under gaming load.
400 watts for entry-level, 650 watts for high-end PCs is sufficient
For the following system configurations, the recommended power ratings are between 400 and 650 watts. More power is only required in exceptional cases. The decisive factors are the CPU and GPU, which can briefly consume significantly more power than their TDP suggests. Very high-clocked graphics cards from board partners can under certain circumstances consume significantly more power, which is why the power requirement should be assessed more precisely in such a case. The same applies to overclocking attempts on your own.
More useful than a power supply calculator: the ComputerBase recommendation for power supply size:
Recommendations according to purpose
Office and multimedia PC: 300 watts is enough
For office computers, multimedia systems and very economical gaming computers, 300 watts of continuous power is absolutely sufficient. Power supplies in this performance class usually offer a 6-pin PCIe power plug to also be able to supply small to medium-sized graphics cards. Currently particularly recommended are:
The cheapest entry level is covered by the Xilence Performance C power supplies in the expansion stage with 350 watts, which was able to assert itself as the price-performance winner. With the System Power series, be quiet! inexpensive power supplies for system integrators on the market. The test of the B8 300W and S9 400W did not reveal any critical weak points. Rather, the series can convince with its complete set of protective circuits and the three-year manufacturer's guarantee. The B8 power supplies are only supplied in bubble wrap, which is why you have to use the more expensive Power 9 400W system for a stylish outer packaging. In addition, the smaller B8 variants do not have a housing finish and there are no cable sheathing.
Mid-range gaming computer: well equipped with 500 watts500 watts for a mid-range gaming PC
For game PCs with an economical mid-range graphics card, a fast CPU from Intel or an AMD Ryzen and a slight overclocking, a good power supply with 500 watt output power is sufficient in most cases. Power supplies with 80Plus gold and independent voltage regulation are already available at prices from 60 euros and are thus establishing themselves as the standard.
Don't save at the wrong end
In relation to the total price, it can also be a lower-priced power supply for a cheaper gaming system. From a retail price of 40 euros, sophisticated technologies such as independent voltage regulation are available in the be quiet! System Power 9 400W and Xilence Performance A + 430W. If a graphics card with high power consumption is installed in the PC, the more powerful 530W variant must be considered. The Power 9 400W system is of higher quality, has completely sheathed cables and has a more straightforward guarantee process.
Rule of thumb for the table: the higher the price range, the higher the efficiency, the quality of the technology and workmanship. Details in the text.
Power supply recommendations for the mass
There is a higher price class with the be-quiet! -Pure-Power-11 series of power supplies, which have rock-solid electrical measured values and a higher efficiency at 80Plus-Gold level. Thanks to the smooth-running fan, the current Pure Power power supplies are also suitable for systems with (very) quiet cooling. Compared to the Xilence Performance A +, the complete cable sheathing and a comparatively long warranty period of five years are essential buying incentives for the price range between 45 and 55 euros. All the important features of high-quality power supplies are therefore included in these recommendations and generally cover all requirements - only those who want even higher efficiency, for example, have to consider more expensive alternatives.
Lots of choice with 80Plus Gold
The largest selection is offered in the 80Plus-Gold efficiency class; the price comparison currently includes power supplies from over 20 manufacturers. In the price range between 55 and 70 euros, the representatives of be quiet !, BitFenix and Xilence dominate, which have been awarded this efficiency certification. In the disciplines of voltage quality, volume and component quality, the BitFenix Formula Gold, Xilence Performance X 550W and be quiet! Pure Power 11 400W CM show good results. If fully modular cable management is desired, only the Kolink Enclave 500W in this price range can meet this requirement, all other models come with a maximum of partially modular cable management. The alternatives from Corsair and Kolink are all provided with a simpler and louder fan, which is why certain compromises have to be accepted.
At prices between 70 and 85 euros, the Sea Sonic Focus GX 550W (formerly called “Focus Plus Gold”) is a power supply unit that is particularly quiet and has fully modular cable management. Otherwise, only the Bitfenix Formula Gold with 450 or 550 watts comes into question as a non-modular alternative in this price range.
Silent power supplies with 80Plus Gold for 100 euros
In the upper class around 100 euros, no manufacturer can only offer mediocre products. Power supplies in this price range have to meet the high requirements for very quiet cooling, excellent electrical performance and modularity. The be quiet! Straight Power 11 is closest to 550W, which works almost silently and does not show a weakness at any corner. Other manufacturers are a bit more careless in terms of volume, but give a longer guarantee for this, for example. The article on recommendations with 550/650 watts selects the EVGA Supernova G3 550W as an outstanding power supply. There is further competition with the Corsair RM550x, which is only marginally inferior to the Straight Power 11 550W in terms of efficiency. The new RM series in the form of the RM650 is equipped with a fan with a higher minimum speed and cannot compete with the competition in terms of volume. In this regard, the Super Flower Leadex III Gold 550W does a slightly better job, but its fan has slight background noise. The EVGA G3 550W, on the other hand, impresses with its low housing depth of just 150 mm. If you attach great importance to a stylish cable kit without wanting to order an expensive cable kit with a single-core sleeve from CableMod or BitFenix and who appreciate a partially higher degree of efficiency compared to the Straight Power 11 550W, the Enermax Platimax D.F. 500W an interesting option. The Phanteks AMP P550G as a modification of the Sea Sonic Focus GX offers no advantages over the original and only differs from it in terms of appearance.
Corsair leader, be quiet! and Aerocool
In the luxury class, the selection is noticeably smaller. The Corsair AX850 can position itself at the top of the ranking, but with 850 W it is dimensioned for a very high output power. A more sensible dimensioning is possible with the be-quiet! -Dark-Power-Pro-11-, the Corsair-HX (i) -and the Aerocool-P7 series, but these are clearly behind the AX850 in terms of efficiency Market price of over 200 euros must also be bought at a high price. If optical gadgets such as RGB-LED lighting or an OLED display are decisive for purchasing, Aerocool can offer interesting power supplies with the P7-650W and Asus with the ROG Thor 850P.
Passive cooling is not always quieter than active cooling
For fans of passive power supplies, Enermax and Silverstone offer a suitable, but also very expensive solution. The detailed volume measurements of current test reports reveal that a (semi-) passively cooled power supply unit can also be louder than an active one due to the electronic noise.
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Multi-GPU systems: It depends on the number of PCIe connectors
For systems with multiple graphics cards, it doesn't have to be a 1,600 watt power supply like the Corsair AX1600i; smaller and cheaper power supplies may also be sufficient.
For a multi-GPU network of graphics cards with moderate power consumption, a sufficient number of connectors must be ensured. Four PCIe connectors already offer the cheapest power supplies such as the FSP Hydro X 550W. Graphics cards with a higher power consumption ultimately place higher demands on the power supply unit - the sum of the maximum electrical power of each individual graphics card must now be used as a design variable.
With the LC8850III V2.3 Arkangel 3, LC-Power has a particularly inexpensive 850-watt power supply with four PCIe connectors on offer, which is a price-performance tip for cheaper dual-GPU systems. Only the power supplies of the Corsair RMx, Super Flower Leadex II Gold and EVGA G3 series meet higher demands. There are higher-quality solutions with the be-quiet! -Dark-Power-Pro-11 and Corsair-HXi models, both of which have received a ComputerBase recommendation in the 850 watt versions. If the digital readout functions can be dispensed with, an equally good alternative can be found with the Corsair HX850. If three graphics cards are to be operated at the same time, the minimum output power must be 850 watts. If the highest level of efficiency is required, the Corsair AX850 currently leads the ranking with an efficiency level of 80Plus Titanium. It is closely followed by the Super Flower Leadex Titanium 850W and Enermax MaxTytan 800W.
It doesn't always have to be ATX
Compact computers in SFX and TFX format, including matching power supply solutions, are enjoying growing popularity, even if the sales figures are still low compared to those of the ATX models. The Kolink SFX-250, SilverStone SST-ST30SF and Sea Sonic SS-300TGW are convincing and (very) quiet offers for office, multimedia and economical gaming systems. When it comes to a compact all-round power supply for gaming systems , Corsair dominates the competition with the SF series. Even that be quiet! SFX L Power 500W has to admit defeat with a higher volume, although it has larger dimensions with 130 mm in depth.
The Corsair SF450 Platinum and Silverstone Nightjar NJ450-SXL are more efficient alternatives with an efficiency level of 80Plus Platinum. Compared to the SF450 (80Plus Gold), however, a slightly higher volume has to be accepted with the SF450 Platinum - the Nightjar NJ450-SXL becomes passive cooled, but costs significantly more than the Corsair variants.
Caution: cheap is cheap quickly
Customers should keep their distance from extremely cheap offers, which can usually be found on eBay. In the test, seven out of seven power supplies failed when calling up the nominal power, nowhere are cheating with the 80Plus certificates to be found more often. But you should also be careful of supposedly good top sellers on Amazon. Ordinary power supplies are already available in the range of 30-40 euros, so it is not worth saving in the wrong place.
New power supply, new graphics card, new CPU?
A detailed comparison of all current graphics cards with ranking list and CPU benchmarks with comparisons and ranking list can also be found on ComputerBase. In addition, ComputerBase offers extensive SSD purchase advice based on extensive tests.
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- Nico Schleippmann Email... is a developer for power electronics in the field of energy supply. He has been testing power supplies for ComputerBase since 2016.
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