The power supply unobtrusively slaves away in some distant, dark corner of your system, but neglect to invest in a proper one, and you will be sorry indeed. Our round-up here, in which we look at nine PSUs in the 550-650 watt segment priced between £30 and almost £100, confirms this in grisly detail, while also telling you which model deserves your cash.
Power supplies appear to be one area of the PC industry unaffected by consolidation and mergers: the number of brands has more or less stabilized, but still we see new names on occasion. That's fine by us, as it means there is choice and competition, meaning we can run our tests on more products and tell you what’s what.
We asked our regular contacts to send us a model within the 550-650 watt range and ended up with a nice variety; some budget models, some very high-end ones, and quite a few in between. We also threw in a really cheap PSU in order to see if the prices asked by the better-known brands are justifiable. Spoiler: they are. Read on to see why.
Power supplies in this range are typically the ones you would want for an upper mid-range to high-end system with a powerful processor and discrete graphics card, or possibly even a set of two mid-range graphics cards in SLI or Crossfire configuration. It is important to check the number of PEG connectors in the latter case, as not all PSUs feature the four 6/8-pin connectors you would need in the most extreme case. However, for those types of configurations, typically you would be looking at a 750W or even 800-850W PSU. We’ve helpfully inventoried the number of connectors, length of cables and so on – and of course have also run a large number of tests in order to test real world performance and noise production. How we went about that, you can read on the next page.