Power supplies have grown to keep pace with the high increase in demand for wattage from gamers, enthusiasts and professional overclockers. The movement from 200w supplies in the mid-1990s all the way through to every supplier offering 1kw and beyond, happened in less than a decade.
.These days, there is a much greater emphasis on efficiency – for every component in your system.
For the mass-market, that drive for efficiency has also driven down the need for huge power supplies. Even a good quality 500w PSU can power many high end single GPU rigs, but you dare not approach Tri-SLi or a pair of 6GB Sapphire 7970 6GB Toxic cards without a solid, stable, high-capacity power supply in the PC.
For the KitGuru Annual Awards 2012, we have decided to define 3 distinct areas for consideration: Value, Performance and Technical Excellence.
Choosing a PSU when you want to build a new system within a fixed budget, means balancing every £1 between the key components. Putting £20 more into your PSU could mean reducing your system memory by 50% – or choosing an entry level cooler instead of the beast you need for more stable overclocks.
For that reason, we looked past the amazing Seasonic G Series 550w and the great Dark Power Pro P10 from BeQuiet, simply on price. They’re fine for a mid-price system, but at the low end you know that there will only be 1 graphic card and sensible overclocking.
On that basis, we have chosen the BeQuiet! Pure Power L8 430W CM. In testing we built an Intel Core i7 3770k system with this power supply, clocking it to 4.5GHz and combining it with a Radeon 7870 for prolonged stress testing and there was no issue at all.
You’re a serious user with multiple high-end graphic cards and an urge to clock everything nice and high. At the same time, you can’t afford any variance in supply. We tested several supplies that match this kind of criteria in 2012. The Corsair Professional Series AX1200i is one of those supplies, but it just loses on price to the 1,250w Seasonic X-Series unit which delivers similar performance.
Our conclusion included ‘zero’ negative points for the X-Series, but the following positives: Quiet, Immensely powerful, fabulous appearance, very efficient, fully modular, rock solid and 8 PCI-E 6+2 cables for ultimate Crossfire and SLI system builds. Hard to argue with that.
In a year of relatively little innovation on the CPU front, the power supply companies appeared to go to war with features, advantages and benefits. Gold standard supplies reached new lows in terms of price point, while Corsair included more intelligence than ever into the AX1200i.
But, for us, the coolest release was the Platinum Fanless 520w from Seasonic. In our extensive testing, this power supply was happy to deliver up to 640 watts – without the need for a single fan. Not only that, but the passively cooled unit is guaranteed to carry on supplying that silent juice for 7 years. Impressive stuff.