The building of a killer gaming computer, entry 11!

Tomorrow I finally get to put this beast together!  Don’t expect to see me outside before next weekend. 😉

Today we’re talking about power supplies.

What is a power supply?

PSU – Power Supply Unit

A power supply is a crucial part to any computer.  The power supply is responsible for providing power to all your components.  It draws power from a standard household outlet, and converts it into connectors your computer can use.

A power supply takes the wall outlet’s Alternating Current(AC) and turns it into Direct Current(DC).

You see, your motherboard and components have a ton of different plugs needed, and you won’t find that from just plain wall power.  There are specific plugs for your video card, specific outlets for your motherboard, specific outlets for your CPU and connectors for your hard drive and fans.

So you see, almost every component requires a specific type of connector.  My mentor took the time to check out all my power specs, because he said it’s kind of confusing to add all the power requirements of the components together properly.  Comment below:

I don’t know why you want a high PSU wattage. There are a lot of myths about this – its not about wattage but more about the power rails. Like I said, your power draw is only 380W. SUPPOSE you had 2 video cards and used Crossfire, your power draw will only be 482W. Therefore, a 550W can handle all your specs and more even if you had Crossfire. For me, a 550W PSU is more than enough, 600W is max – 650W or 700W is too much. You can have a 700W PSU, but if your power rails are not good, your computer will be unstable.”  – Ronnie Miranda

So now we know I at least need a 380W PSU to power my basic components.  But what about the case fans, what about the LED lights and what about the USB ports?  I agree with my mentor’s suggestion to have a 550W PSU.  They are in the sweet spot for price/performance ratio; you can get a good 550W PSU that is reliable for a great price, compared to higher power models.

But now we have a twist!  My high end graphics card(Radeon 5870) requires two PCI-E 6 pin connectors!  (one is shown above, top middle image.)

If it was even possible to make it more confusing, we have two types of power supplies.  How they differ is how they take up space inside your case.

The names of these types are modular PSU and non-modular PSU.

Non-modular – All the cables are hard wired.  All the cables come pre-attached to the PSU.  This is good because it costs less.  This is bad because the cables you don’t use will hang loose in your case, taking up space. (Shown below, bottom.)

Modular – A modular PSU allows you to attach only the connectors you need.  If you don’t need to use some cables, yo don’t need to attach them.  This is good because it takes up less space in your case.  This is bad because it increases cost. (Shown below, top.)

So I need to find a reliable 550W PSU with two 6-pin PCI connectors.  I have chosen the OCZ Z-Series Silver Certified 550W PSU.

Why did I choose this PSU?

First off, it has two PCI 6-pin connectors.  This is a must.  I’ve already chosen my video card, so my power supply needs to conform to its needs.

It is 550W.  550W is what my mentor recommended, and will give me a bit more than enough power.

The price is excellent.  The sales rep at NCIX(Gary Lai) who I bought this from got me an excellent price match for this PSU.  Regular prices are around $110, but he got me it for $84.99!

This PSU is not modular, and it doesn’t bother me.  I have already opened the box and I am pleased to see that I will be using all the connectors but two.  My case is already large to start off with, so I should have no problem neatly organizing these cables so that they don’t impact airflow.

Throughout this whole build I have been very insistent that you choose quality, brand name parts.  Why brand name?  If you buy a product from a brand name manufacturer and something goes wrong with it, it will tarnish their brand name.   Good companies will go out of their way to make sure the end user’s product is working properly, which is a good thing for us computer users.

You see those burn marks?

Yeah.  That’s what happens when you buy cheap, unreliable products because you want to save a few bucks.  That charred connector above is for powering the CPU.  If a cheap power supply burnt out my CPU like that, I would be out almost $200, which is no fun at all!


PS: New computer tomorrow.  I can hardly contain my excitement. =D

PSS: Clare, I still owe you a cookie.

4 thoughts on “The building of a killer gaming computer, entry 11!

  1. How did you assembly go yesterday? Look forward to Steven’s photos and the assembled pieces. I guess you have been too busy playing the games!


  2. Sorry for being a postscript nazi, but it’s pps (for post-post-script), not pss (for post-script-script). Way to be thorough, though. Leaves no stone underdone.

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