Picking The Right Power Supply: What You Should Know

Example 2: Mid-Range Gaming PC

Test Case 2: The Mid-Range PC

Again, let’s begin by taking a look at our mid-range build.

Mid-Range PC
AMD Athlon X4 640

MSI 870A-G45
4 x 2 GB DDR3 Kingston HyperX
HIS Radeon HD 6870
Hard Drive
1 x 1 TB Western Digital Caviar Blue
Optical Drive
DVD burner
External Devices
USB hard drive, mouse, keyboard
Power Draw, Idle
78 W
Power Draw, Normal Load
126 W
Power Draw, Full Load
332 W

Next, we pick out some likely power supplies. Our choices are:

Standard ATX 420 W
$14 (€9.90)
LC-POWERLC6350 Super Silent 350 W
$28 (€19.90)
RasurboReal & Power RAP 350 W 80 PLUS
$49 (€35.00)
Super Flower
Golden Green 450 W
80 PLUS Gold
$83 (€59.00)
Modu 82+ II ErP 425 W
80 PLUS Bronze
$113 (€80.00)

Two PSUs Are Killed In Action

That brings us back to our charts. Sadly, two of our contenders didn’t survive this scenario. Then again, this was hardly a surprise. Remember what we said about the spec sticker on the one unit that claimed a lot more power than it could realistically supply? Yep, that was one of our casualties. More interesting than the fact that it died at all was the point at which it happened. See for yourself:


Rasurbo is able to retain its lead when the system is idle. But once the computer sees a normal usage pattern, Super Flower winds up ahead, albeit by a slim margin. Despite its much higher price, the Enermax unit places third so far. LC-Power and the cheap Hardwaremania24 PSU come in last.

Under full load, Enermax can finally advance to second place, coming in right behind Super Flower. Rasurbo’s Real & Power RAP 350 W is right up against its limit, which is borne out by the decreased efficiency. It really is just a bit underpowered for this build, which is why wouldn’t recommend this combination for extended use. Downgrading to a Radeon HD 6850 would probably alleviate that concern, though.

In order to let our two low-cost candidates compete here as well, we had to use some PCIe adapters so we could power the graphics card. LC Power’s so-called 350 W model died a sudden (albeit quiet) death, giving off a hiss and a picturesque little cloud. We decided not to continue testing the Hardwaremania24 model under load, since it began giving off a pungent odour when we started up Google Earth in our “normal load” scenario. We considered that warning enough and chose to protect the remaining hardware from imminent meltdown. We’re not exaggerating that danger, either. That particular model lacks any kind of protection mechanism beyond a very sluggish micro-fuse.