The CPU is often referred to as the brain of the computer system. If that is a meaningful analogy then the heart of the system is undoubtedly the power supply. The PS has to provide stable power to all parts of the system, much as the heart has to provide blood to all parts of the body. When the power supply is not completely healthy parts of your system start failing. The Power Supply is also the component most likely to fail in systems, because its importance is often overlooked by the system builder.
The case has to house all the components, so there are specification concerns that the Power Supply and all components will actually fit. However, it is a much more personal choice than the PS. Once you determine everything will fit, personal ergonomics and appearance are the main reasons buyers choose a particular case. The case can also have a significant impact in cooling efficiency, however, and that should also be a concern in case selection.

Computer Component suppliers normally sell the case and power supply as a combined purchase. The prices often seem to be a good value, but our experience has been that it is often tough to determine the source and quality of the Power Supply used in the package. Combo cases are often the cheapest and thinnest metal you can possibly buy. These combo Case/PS may be great for a retailer building entry systems for resale, but they are rarely high enough in performance or durability to meet the needs of the Computer Enthusiast. They also may work fine initially, but the cheap kit power supplies are often the first things to go in a system.

For all these reasons we recommend the separate selection of a case and power supply for a new system build, or to replace the case you now have. The price and performance range among current cases and power supplies is huge, so we have zeroed in on some typical price points for knowledgeable shoppers looking for a new case or power supply.

Power Supplies
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  • ccd - Tuesday, December 16, 2008 - link

    You gave a holiday recommendation for an HTPC mobo, why not for a case as well???
  • ccd - Tuesday, December 16, 2008 - link

    You gave a holiday recommendation for an HTPC mobo, why not for a case as well???
  • Mastakilla - Tuesday, December 16, 2008 - link

    i'm missing a nice powersupply between 500-600W

    i'm gonna compose a nice budget desktop for my brother soon and i'm planning to use an overclocked Q6600 with a cheap ATI videocard

    I don't think the 400W will be enough for that
    and the 750W PC&P is just overkill and too expensive
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, December 17, 2008 - link

    My desktop system here at work uses a Q6600@3GHz, P35 chipset, 3GB RAM, and a NVIDIA 7300GT graphics card. Power draw at the wall is a little over 100W at idle IIRC, and max is under 200W. I built the system with a 650W Enermax Infiniti PSU as we were considering moving to much more powerful graphics cards to support the OpenGL work we were doing at the time. So I would guess the 400W might be OK, and through tomorrow at Newegg is $60 with a 20% off code and a $20 MIR, so $28 plus shipping after MIR.
  • zebrax2 - Tuesday, December 16, 2008 - link

    same comment as you. it like they went from low end to higher low end then they skipped the midrange then went ahead with higher midrange and lastly hi-end.
  • StraightPipe - Tuesday, December 16, 2008 - link

    That 1000W PSU is nice, but if it's not available yet, it's nto a very good recommendation.

    How about recommending a big daddy i can find on the market?

    Core2 Quad Q9300 - OC @ 3.6GHz
    Tuniq 120Tower
    4x1GB Corsair Dominator @ DDR2-800
    NVidia 8800GTS
    Areca 1220 RAID card:
    OS-2x150GB Raptor RAID0
    STORAGE-4x1TB Seagate RAID5
    Sound Blaster X-fi
    5 Case fans (120mm, 120mm, 90mm, 80mm, 80mm)
    Ear plugs (just kidding)

    I was using an OZC Elite 800Watt PSU, but it died after 2 months...waiting on RMA now, but think i might be better off with 1000W
  • StraightPipe - Tuesday, December 16, 2008 - link

    So in review, you've recommended a 300W, 400W and a 750W PSU.

    Lots of gaps left to fill. Instead of breaking the "Guide" down by price points, i'd think a breakdown by power supplied would be more appropriate. Maybe 100-150W intervals from 300-1200 would be good.

    I guess I'll just start digging through the Cases/Cooling/PSUs section.
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, December 17, 2008 - link">
    Your exact components are not on there, but using stuff that is close and picking some worst-case estimates for other components (chipset) it seems doubtful that your system draws over 450W max. So something in the 800W range would probably serve you well, so long as you were not anticipating an upgrade to an SLI/Crossfire setup. If you were, then 900-1000 watts might be justified, though you would probably still be OK with 800.
  • Crusty - Tuesday, December 16, 2008 - link

    While it's nice finally seeing some decent buying guides if these were done say for the first of December they would be far more useful. I've done all my shopping already, and even those that haven't will have a hard time getting the items shipped on time for Christmas.
  • bovinda - Tuesday, December 16, 2008 - link

    Though I always enjoy reading your guys' guides, I have to agree, wish they'd been around about two weeks ago. :)

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