Desktop PC Power Requirements

What are your desktop PC power requirements? From basic office computers to high end gaming rigs, learn how to choose your computer power supply wattage here.

How much power does my computer need? This question has asked since computer pioneers were tinkering with their 8086 PCs in the late 1970s.

A simple (but crude) solution is to splurge on a high wattage power supply. While a 1,500 watt monster is able to deliver enough power for almost all imaginable situations, it's going to burn a deep hole in your pockets.

A much better method is to determine your computer's maximum power consumption and match it with the correct PC power supply wattage. To make sure that a power supply is able to deliver its rated wattage, it should have been tested to full load by Ecova (80 Plus Certified) or a credible review site.

By popular request, we shall also recommend the best and most suitable power supplies for each computer type.

A high wattage power supply doesn't consume more electricity than a low wattage unit. Whether you have a 500 or 1,000 Watt power supply, it's still going to draw the same amount of power from the wall.

Basic Computer

Purpose: web surfing, email, office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access), listening to music, viewing images, watching videos.

Recommended Power Supply: Corsair Builder Series CX 430W

Components

Lowest End CPU (Intel Celeron)
Low End Motherboard
RAM Module x 1
3.5" Hard Disk Drive
DVD-RW Drive
Case Fan x 1

Basic Computer Power Requirements

Max Power Consumption

37 W
25 W
3 W
9 W
27 W
6 W

117 Watts

Mainstream Computer

Purpose: web surfing, email, office applications, listening to music, viewing images, watching high resolution videos, light gaming, light graphics editing

Recommended Power Supply: Seasonic G Series 550W

Components

Mid End CPU (Intel Core i5)
Mid End Motherboard
RAM Modules x 2
Low End Graphics Card (Under $125)
3.5" Hard Disk Drive
DVD-RW Drive
Case Fans x 2

Mainstream Computer Power Requirements

Max Power Consumption

95 W
40 W
6 W
86 W
9 W
27 W
12 W

275 Watts

Gaming Computer

Purpose: heavy gaming, heavy graphics editing, overclocking, moderate virtualization, web surfing, listening to music, viewing images, watching high resolution videos

Recommended Power Supply: Corsair Professional Series AX 760W

Components

High End CPU (Intel Core i7)
Aftermarket CPU Heatsink Fan
High End Motherboard
RAM Modules x 2
High End Graphics Card ($251 to $400)
Dedicated Sound Card
Solid State Drive
3.5" Hard Disk Drive
Blu ray Drive
Case Fans x 4

Gaming PC Power Requirements

Max Power Consumption

95 W
12 W
80 W
6 W
258 W
15 W
3 W
9 W
30 W
24 W

532 Watts

Home Theater PC

Purpose: watching high resolution videos, streaming online videos, viewing photos, listening to music, playing optical discs (CDs, VCDs, DVDs, Blu ray discs)

Recommended Power Supply: Seasonic M12II Bronze 620W

Components

Low End CPU (Intel Core i3)
Mid End Motherboard
RAM Module x 1
Dedicated Sound Card
3.5" Hard Disk Drive
Blu ray Drive
Case Fans x 2

Home Theater PC Power Requirements

Max Power Consumption

73 W
40 W
3 W
15 W
9 W
30 W
12 W

182 Watts

RELATED: Power Consumption of PC Components

Power Supply Guide