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Power supplies: What are they? and what you should know.

Power supply information

Power Supplies

If you're new to computers let me be the first to welcome you to a world of pain. Just kidding, if done right, and with a little bit of smarts computers are actually pretty fun and solvable. Well, what powers a computer? a nuclear plant? a plug in the wall? Actually they're called Power Supplies

What's a power supply?

Well, how convenient of you to ask. There are two types of electrical current, Alternating and Direct (Also known as AC/DC, no not the band). These two currents power the world and without them we would pretty much be in darkness. Computers can only utilize one of these currents which is DC, What comes out of the wall in our houses is AC. You've probably heard that computers think in 1's and 0's and that's true, but it can only do that when a certain amount of electricity passes through it's parts. Power Supplies essentially ensure every component of your computer is given solid energy to work with and operate on.

The TX850 Power Supply 850 Watts

Okay so how does this affect me?

Well seeing as how you're on this page right now it's probably in use right now. If you're a gamer, or someone who does work on their computer, or even someone who's just building a computer, your power supply is the most absolute and crucial part of your entire system. Knowing how much wattage your computer needs is important for many obvious reasons. The first obvious reason is because if you don't have enough then you're definitely not going to be using your computer. The second one is much more complicated. Power supplies work in weird ways... and their efficiency is rated at different at different usages (I'll explain this later).

Wattage, Amps, and Volts

Let me give you a cool formula that can be found here:

Hope you know your math.
So from there we know that
 A = W / V 
(Where A = Amperage, 
W = Watts, V = Volts).
Doing simple math we can find out that W = A * V and that
V = W / A.

So what does all this mean? Imagine a hose with flowing water. The bigger those whose the more water can flow at one time, correct? Now imagine that the water is actually electricity. The size of the hose would be the Amperage. Amps essentially dictate how much electricity will pull from the Power Supply. Many first time builders go for Watts, they say Watts are the end all be all. Allow me to save you some trouble and tell you that AMPERAGE is the absolutely essential go to. When you're looking for a power supply satisfy the wattage requirements and then head straight for the amperage box. for one GTX 780 you want somewhere MINIMUM around 25 Amps on the 12V Rail. for SLI you'll need much more. the 12V rail is probably the most important rail, SPEAKING OF WHICH.

Split 12V Rails and You

In genesis there was one rail that went from the power supply to the components. However this posed a problem... When users would draw over the recommended amperage the power supply would either run extremely hot or just plain die. Manufacturers came up with the solution to add circuit protection as well as split the rails. So while each rail might have, let's say 20 amps, if you go over that the power supply would simply shut off. This caused a lot of mixed feelings within the tech community though as some people did not know how to configure multi-railed Power Supplies (which is not difficult at all). Moral of the story here is to read the booklet your Power Supply comes with.

Seriously, just read it.


There are five main ratings:

  • 80 Plus
  • 80 Plus Bronze
  • 80 Plus Silver
  • 80 Plus Gold
  • 80 Plus Platinum
Whenever you buy a PSU it is absolutely imperative that you find one with at least 80 Plus if you're on a budget and 80 Plus bronze if you're not (Well if you're not on a budget then go with Platinum).

Here's how it works with power supplies. They're rated to give you at least 80% efficiency in power at these given power loads: 20%, 50%, 100%

This means that at these loads you will be getting the most out of your Power Supply. Of course the higher the precious metal the more efficiency you'll get!

I know I didn't get into the specifics of Power Supplies in this and it's because you guys don't need them.. but if you want a picture of the specifics here's what they look like:
Want to read about this? Yeah, didn't think so.
 Hope you enjoyed this advice!