Determining How Much Wattage Your Gaming Computer Needs

February 25, 2022

Power supply will always be one of the most important factors when building any kind of gaming computer. Within this realm, wattage is a crucial term to be aware of. Referring to the SI unit of power equivalent to one joule per second. Watts are a form of electric power and often define power supplies within the computing realm.

At Xidax, wattage is just one of numerous areas we’ll assist you with as you build a custom gaming PC with us. We’ve helped a wide range of clients with all their gaming needs in the desktop, laptop and workstation areas, and we can’t wait to work with you! So what are some general wattage ranges for a gaming PC? What are the critical factors that will determine the wattage amount you should be using for your build? Here’s a primer.

General Gaming Computer Wattage Ranges

Generally speaking, gaming PCs will range from about 450 watts on the lower end to no higher than 800 or maybe 850 watts on the higher end. While these may vary slightly depending on your exact components, these are the ranges you could be looking at for a gaming computer.

If your build will include a large number of PCIe adapters and external devices attached via USB ports, it’s essential to make sure you have enough wattage to power all of them. With example builds we’ve provided customers in the past, we’ve generally stayed in the general wattage ranges. Still, we also go over all your options with you to ensure you get the best power supply for your budget.

Our next several sections will cover the most critical factors determining your wattage needs.

Overall Computer Setup

One of the main reasons there’s no set answer for how much wattage a computer needs. That is because electrical power requirements will vary significantly between different components. So the first design element we’ll look at is the overall setup of your computer.

If you’re building a powerful rig, and you have a large video card that requires two power cables from your PSU. It’s going to require more wattage than if you just installed a single smaller card with one power cable. So in this situation, you’ll need more wattage.

Types of Games Being Played

Another major factor that will help determine your wattage needs is which games you intend on playing. For instance, if you’d like to play games such as Dota 2 or League of Legends, a lower wattage power supply will be sufficient. As it will not run your graphics card at max capacity often.

Conversely, if you’re interested in more demanding titles such as Witcher 3 or GTA V, you’re going to want a more powerful power supply that can keep up with your GPU. In these games, graphics card wattage requirements may go above what smaller power supplies can handle.

Time Spent Playing

One element that’s often not considered closely enough by gamers when thinking about wattage: How much time you actually spend in front of the screen playing a given game. While a power supply could handle a powerful system well, if you’re only going to be playing for 30 or 40 minutes per day, you probably won’t benefit much from the extra expense that would have been required for a more powerful PSU in this situation.

On the flip side, if you play for several hours every day, especially if you play for money, you need to make sure your power supply has the wattage to support what you’ll be playing. Many hardcore gamers will prefer wattage setups well over 600 watts to meet various needs.

Your CPU, GPU and Hard Drive

Also at play here will be the specific components you have in your computer. The heart of any gaming PC is its graphics card, and whether it’s a dual GPU setup or single GPU card, the wattage requirement for this component is vital to be aware of when selecting your power supply.

For instance, if you’re using two GTX 980s inside your custom rig, then it’ll require more wattage than if you had only a single GTX 960. Other components such as your CPU and hard drives will also be necessary, with wattage requirements for these being much lower in most situations.

Motherboard Setup

In terms of the brand and the specific model that you choose, your motherboard setup will also play a role in determining the wattage you need to have. For instance, if you intend on giving your machine overclocking abilities, you’ll want to make sure the power supply has more wattage than it typically would since overclocking can lead to higher power consumption.

In other cases, if you’re using a newer motherboard model, this could indicate that your power supply should be more powerful. When determining how much wattage is correct, make sure to think about the specific setup and components inside your computer.

Other Factors: Size and UPS Backup

Finally, two other elements are size and whether you intend on hooking your gaming computer up to an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). If you’re building a custom gaming machine, then your power supply must be able to fit inside your case.

UPS backup will also play a role in this regard, but it can also affect the wattage you’ll need for your power supply if you choose to hook your setup up to one.

For more on the wattage needs you may have for your gaming computer or to learn about any of our gaming computer setups, speak to the staff at Xidax today.

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