Consumer tests and product reviews

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What PSU to get in 2021?

Choosing the proper computer power supply is not always easy - our advice for buying PSU for a midrange gaming PC in 2021

power supply 2021

While researching computer power supply units for one of our recent PC builds we noticed that there is a huge confusion in choosing the correct PSU. Many consumers are getting all sorts of advice in the Internet forums and discussion but we are not quite sure you can get the best answers there.  For the same reason people are buying high-power and sometimes very expensive supplies that they might not need.

Today we will focus mostly in power supply needed for basic home configuration in 2021 and try to answer basic questions like "how much wattage do I need for my Ryzen 5 PC".  So...

How much power do you need for your home build office PC? 

Well, to start with the answer from the very beginning - not a lot. For an average office configuration powered by a mid-range Ryzen or Intel processor you will be more than fine with 350W PSU. Please note that this doesn't mean that you are going to pull anywhere near 350W from an office configuration with built-in graphics card. 

We just assume that for this type of computer you are not going to invest in the highest grade power supply (gold or platinum) and an average Bronze certified 350W PSU will give you somewhere around 300W stable supply throughout the day. 

Also, the average estimated consumption of such PSU with 1x SSD, 1x HDD and the usual peripherals probably will be around 100-150W on high load. Older processors and hardware parts tend to have higher TDB so these figures may vary depending on your configuration. 

Is 450W or 550W enough for an entry/average gaming PC?

2021 gaming power supply

For most cases yes, a decent 550W would be more than enough for an entry-level gaming PC in 2021. But for a higher demanding computers we would always advice to focus more on the quality of the PSU, rather than on its wattage numbers only.

Gaming and work computers which demand high power for longer periods work much better with quality Gold and Platinum certified power supplies and getting one will assure stable and continuous productivity of all hardware components.

CPU and GPU consumption - the test 

And to give an example of a midrange gaming configuration that we already tested with a 550W Gold certified Seasonic Focus GX-550 and ASUS Dual Radeon RX 5500 XT EVO video card. The processor we used is AMD Ryzen 3600X (tray) with aftermarket Arctic Freezer 34 eSports DUO CPU cooler.  And for most gamers this should be a pretty decent gaming configuration, especially considering the fact that this RX 5500 XT EVO card was mounted on a PCI 4.0 on a new ASUS TUF Gaming B550 motherboard and fast M2 NVMe SSD.

Seasonic Focus GX-550 power supply - video

While testing this Seasonic PSU which was a bit expensive we noticed that consumption on peak was nowhere near its limits of 500W. On heavy 4k rendering with Premiere Pro and couple of browser windows opened the Ryzen processor was on its max load while the video card topped around 80%. The average consumption pulled from this demand would be somewhere around 200-230W (50% CPU, 40% GPU, 10% peripherals). This ratio may turn in favor of the GPU in some games since in work modes and rendering it is usually the processor that bottlenecks or reaches its limits first. 

Ryzen master CPU

2021 PSU test

Still, even if these ratios differ in other configurations, you are most probably going to get very similar results. For example we may switch the card with Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 or 1660 Super and Intel Core i5 and the consumption will be pretty much identical. 

For configurations with more powerful 8 and 12-core processor and high-end GPUs you can expect much higher wattage consumption but we are not discussing these configurations today.  

So, for an average modern $1000 gaming PC we are just fine with the Gold certified PSU and we also have some room for upgrade in case we decide to get newer and more powerful processor or GPU. 

"How much wattage do I need for my PC" - conclusion

The answer of this question will always depend on the components you are using. We shared our impressions with a midrange gaming PC in 2021 and we believe that any quality made power supply above 450W would be more than enough for the system we built. 

Before investing in new or upgrading your PSU we would always recommend to check the online PSU calculators which will give you a pretty good estimate of your needs. If still not convinced, please contact a computer specialist for additional help and advice.