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Thread: Does a 'future-proof' PSU exist? And is bigger always better?

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    Smile Does a 'future-proof' PSU exist? And is bigger always better?

    Hello everyone,

    I'm brand new here, but I'm a big fan of your site, so first off let me thank you for all you guys do! I've been plotting my first PC build, and I'm very impressed with the reviews from your site. I would like to ask your opinion about a PSU dilemma I'm having. After reading your great reviews, I want to go for 80+Gold, but I can't decide between the Seasonic X 560w or the 650w. Right now there's only a $20 difference! My friend is upgrading his system and passing his AMD and motherboard on to me; a dual core, 2.7 ghz cpu (black edition) for now the onboard graphics will do but it has a pci-e graphics slot for a nice new card sometime in the future. I will have a TB HD to start with, 4 GB RAM and a combo DVD drive, the usual stuff, nothing high-end. I know the 650 is overkill for this system right now, but if I decide later on to overclock and install a monster GPU, even a simple RAID array down the road, will I be sorry I didn't get the extra juice? I do believe that you get what you pay for (most of the time) and I don't always believe the Newegg review hype (nice sunbeam review btw, I hope the avatar isn't infringing on anything! :P) so any insight would be most appreciated. Thanks!

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    Yes, it does. And it's in the 650-850w range.
    A good 650w unit will run any single GPU setup, and many lower end SLi or Xfire setups.
    An 850 will run any dual GPU setup on any single or dual CPU socket board.

    For the $20 difference, which is pretty much nothing, then the X-650 is probably the better deal. But the Corsair AX is effectively the same unit, and has an even longer warranty (7 years over the 5 for the Seasonic).

    You won't need more than 450w for the system you've mentioned, but once you get into the price range for a really decent power supply, it's hardly anything to push the wattage up a bit, I know, I gave in to that temptation myself.
    Heck, you don't need more than a good 550w for a single CPU and a GTX480 or 580...
    Intel i7-2600k with an XSPC Raystorm water block, 4x4GB Corsair Dominator, SLi Evga-GTX560Ti-448 FTWs, Asrock Extreme4 Gen3, Crucial M4 256GB SSD, Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB HDD, powered by a Silverstone Strider+ 850 PSU in a Silverstone TJ-07BW case.
    I'm not buying EK GPU blocks ever again. (One GPU killed)

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    the 560w will already be plenty, if you want the extra wattage, go for the 650w, but im telling ya the 560w is already overkill

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    I'm not sure I would say anything is future proof, but careful planning can certainly increase your chances.

    In theory, bigger does not mean better. HOWEVER, real-world and theory rarely jive. Sadly, while 350W may be more than you will ever need, and in theory perfectly capable to support your system, the reality is PSU makers, even the reputable makers, don't always put the same quality parts or added features in their low wattage (read: less expensive) supplies that they do in their higher wattage, more expensive models. For example, Newegg lists just 3 out of 20 350W supplies as are 80-PLUS certified, but 13 out of 22 650W supplies are certified.

    High wattage supplies are likely to have more connections, and a better (quieter) fan too. It may have fan speed control while the "budget" model does not.

    I am not saying to get a 1.2KW supply because it is bigger. I am just saying shop wisely.

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    ^But it's not about wattage itself, it's about product lines in general. And it's very easy to come up with counterexamples, like: Corsair GS800 vs AX750. Or Antec EarthWatts 750W vs Truepower New 550W. Or, taking things to the extreme: Diablotek RPM-1050 vs SuperFlower Platinum 550W

    And it certainly doesn't apply to Seasonic X-560 vs X-650.

    OP: For single CPU, single GPU, as long as you don't try to beat records in extreme OC, X-560 is more than enough.

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    Big enough to do the job and with enough connectors to cope with your system plus a few upgrades, that's what you want to aim for. I'd stick with recommending you aim for the 550-750w range for your needs. There's certainly very little need to go significantly higher.
    Intel i7-2600k with an XSPC Raystorm water block, 4x4GB Corsair Dominator, SLi Evga-GTX560Ti-448 FTWs, Asrock Extreme4 Gen3, Crucial M4 256GB SSD, Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB HDD, powered by a Silverstone Strider+ 850 PSU in a Silverstone TJ-07BW case.
    I'm not buying EK GPU blocks ever again. (One GPU killed)

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    the problem is that, in order to sell 350w units (or whatever low wattage), the price must be inexpenisve, or else people will just buy generic junk "600w" (in reality 200w) power supplies. so the motivation to make a high quality psu is not there, it would cause the psu to be too expenisve.

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    What is your definition of "future proof?" If it means "will last 10 years of upgrades" then no. If it means "will last the next two years of upgrades" then yes.

    Three reasons why I say this.

    1) You may change your computing upgrading habits in the future. What if you won the lottery and suddenly want to buy that triple SLI monster rig you've always dreamed of? Chances are your "future proof" PSU suddenly wasn't very. What if Anthropomorphic Global Warming really was true and 2012 wasn't the end of the world, but the end of cheap energy? Suddenly a 50W 80Plus Platinum PSU running a mini desktop system can save you $50/mo in power bills.

    2) Computer components have a finite life. Capacitors age over time and solder joints can crack and go cold due to heat cycling.

    3) Computer components evolve over time. If you had purchased the most "future proof" PSU in the world 8 years ago, it would be nearly unusable on a modern gaming rig due to the switch to mostly +12v components. Will there be another such switch in the future? Maybe to an even higher voltage? Many notebooks are 19v.
    Zap
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    Getting a higher wattage than you need can have some disadvantages.

    One is that you sacrefice efficiency, especially under lower loads (idle!) the other is that models with more wattage can be louder than a smaller one.
    And of course, you have to pay more for a bigger unit.

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    I would say just about any power supply could be considered futureproof if you are willing to do a bit of cable (and possibly case) modification once in a while and the voltage requirements don't change too much. This being said, if you expect it to last more than one platform, it has to be built well, with good capacitors used, a decent (or easily replaceable fan) and supply decent amperage on rails that are in use today. You also might consider modifying the Fan's "quiet" circuitry to keep it a bit cooler, it'll make all the parts last longer as long as you keep the unit clean and free of dust as much as you can. Also keep an ear and your senses out for if/when that fan fails, catching it early will make it last much longer. With CPU's getting more and more efficient, the wattage might not matter as much as the build quality. You have to decide high end or low end in the future and guess at what those values could be, if everything works as I think, it'll be +-10 watts from one enthusiast platform to the next on a 2-3 year cycle. Keep in mind the aging of the components will become a factor the longer you intend to run it, and that you might one day run into a strange signaling situation where a motherboard won't be able to control the PSU due to changes in the power level required to switch psu's on and off (I've personally had it happen a few times), and you may need to wire in a relay or pull down/up transistor circuit for it to function properly.

    If a new function comes out (like a long time ago the P4 connector, PCIe, sata etc) you'll need enough rail capacity to drive the extra load via a molex adapter (and even if you splice it in yourself, you'll need whatever wire you use to be able to handle the capacity), and the wiring to the 4 pin molex's is your friend, the bigger it physically is, the more amperage it can carry.

    This is all a moot point if we all decide to change our voltages to different ones (7.2v, 24v, 48v, etc), but usually the PC industry stagnates and you have a good 3 year warning before any strange standard like that shows itself regularly, and there is even a chance that it doesn't catch on (like BTX style cases for an example).

    As crazy as all of this sounds, I've used an AT power supply on ATX boards before, I've got a SparklePower 300 prototype from the dawn of ATX 1.00 (it was built in 1995, yes it has a rather deep 3.3 rail), that runs a Athlon64 3200+ quite well, I've got a NMB from 1997 that runs a little Athlon 2500+, I've got an enermax 350 from 2001 that runs a AthlonII 2.6Ghz, a enermax 465 from 2004 that runs a Phenom 9750, a corsair HX520 from 2006 running my PhenomII 1075T/4GB/Radeon 6870, a corsair VX450 from 2007 running a Athlon64 X2 4400+, and a corsair VX450 from 2008 running a Phenom 9550, all of this 24x7x365 (except power outages)... I've also got quite a few others that will go nameless that failed along the way in many, many, many machines (I used to have a sizable folding@home farm, so this subject became very near and dear to me rather quick).

    I've had good luck when the planets have aligned and I've paid close attention to details, YMMV.

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