How Many Watts Should A Gaming PC Have? (PSU Requirements)

PC gamers aren’t the type of people to skimp on their gaming equipment, but knowing how many Watts their gaming PCs need is important in choosing the correct power supply. It’s no fun to play a game when you don’t have high-quality graphics and deal with lags and potential random shutdowns.

The obvious solution is to buy the most powerful PSU on the market, right? Not necessarily.

A gaming PC should have between 600 and 650 watts, but it will still depend on how you will use your gaming PC. Instead of getting the most power available, buying a PSU that aligns with your needs to lower overall costs and improve efficiency is better.

The exact amount of Wattage you need for a gaming PC will depend on a variety of factors, including:

  • The type of overall setup.
  • The games being played.
  • Level of intensity and time spent in playing.
  • The kind of CPU, hard drive, and graphics processing used.
  • The motherboard.
  • The number of users simultaneously playing. 
A 650 Watt computer power supply.

Considering all those factors, most people are fine with between 600 and 650-Watt PSUs.

Some can do just fine, dropping to 500 watts, and others need to go a bit higher to between 650 and 800 Watts, but it seems 600 and 650 watts is the sweet spot for most gamers.

That’s enough to keep everything functioning correctly without worrying about crashes, stalls, lags, or shutdowns due to overheating.

No matter what kind of hardcore multiplayer gaming someone does, there’s rarely a need to go above 1000 watts.

How much electricity does a gaming PC use?

There’s no single answer to this question. The answer depends entirely on the PC’s overall setup, how much time users spend on it daily, what kind of games they’re running, and more. 

If you want to read more, I have written another article on how much energy gaming computers use.

Luckily, it isn’t hard for people to determine how much power their specific PCs use. They need the right tool for the job, and that tool is a home energy monitor. 

Home energy monitors are small devices that help people track how much energy they use in their homes.

Some hook directly to the breakers in the fuse box and monitor power consumption that way. 

Others hook into outlets. They have outlets on their faces, and users plug their PCs (or any other electrical device) into the energy monitor’s outlet face.

The energy monitor tracks how many watts of electricity that particular device uses.

What happens if gaming PCs don’t get enough power?

Some many signs and symptoms could indicate that a video game system isn’t receiving enough power, either because of an insufficient power source or because the gamer is running too much off one particular circuit. 

The PC won’t start

One of the most distressing problems associated with a lack of power is when PCs won’t start. This can be particularly frustrating because the gamer can’t know what’s happening.

Did the cooling fan overheat and fry the system? Is something wrong with one of the connector cables? Is the PC simply not getting enough power to turn it on?

It’s hard to know without running some diagnostics and DIY troubleshooting. I have written a troubleshooting guide if your computer won’t post to help you if you are in this position.

Users get lucky occasionally, and the computer decides to power down while using it.

While this isn’t fortunate in terms of its potential effect on the game or the computer, it’s lucky that it sometimes provides the user with a glimpse of the boot screen first, which hints that it might be a power supply problem. 

Another indication that lack of power might be the problem is if the PC doesn’t come on after a recent upgrade. If this happens, users can remove the upgrade and see if the PC works again.

If so, the problem is almost certainly a lack of power unless the upgrade isn’t working properly.

The blue screen of death

The blue screen of death and forced shutdowns are other symptoms of a PC’s lack of power.

Some PCs have enough power to turn on and work for short periods, but then they blue screen or forcibly shut themselves down because they can’t do anything else. 

Horrible graphics

When a PC senses it isn’t getting enough power, it reduces non-essential processes, leaving them with less power. This causes them to function at less than peak performance.

One of the first places PCs pull power from is the graphics card. A person can have an amazing, top-of-the-line graphics card, but graphics will still be subpar if it is lacking. 

If the system starts pulling power away from graphics, an error message will typically appear, letting the user know there’s a problem. 

Frequent freezes

Many people maintain that inefficient power supply units can’t cause PCs to freeze. They claim computers only shut down or fail to turn on when the PSU is an issue.

This isn’t strictly true. Voltage spikes can occur when people don’t have enough wattage to run their PCs. 

If voltage spikes are high enough, they can do everything I’ve already mentioned, such as preventing the PC from turning on, forcibly shutting it down, etc.

Small voltage spikes, though, are less dramatic. They cause computers to freeze. Sometimes, the PC recovers and starts working again on its own, and sometimes, these freezes require mandatory user shutdowns.

Either way, they’re an inconvenience, especially if someone is in the middle of a game.

If you need more information, you can read my other article, which will help you figure out why Windows 10 is freezing.

Excessive lagging

Excessive lagging is another thing many people insist can’t occur because of a faulty power supply. They’re both right and wrong about that.

Lagging can occur if a computer isn’t receiving enough power, but it isn’t directly related to the lack of power. It’s more tied in with the failure of the graphics card. 

Anyone who’s ever seen a computer experience bad graphics has also seen the point when the graphics card fails, and things start pixelating and lagging.

Occasionally, this can be accompanied by a breaking robot voice. However, that has nothing to do with the graphics card; it results from the system malfunctioning due to the underlying lack of power. 

Display oddities

Strange occurrences in the display can also mean there’s something wonky going on with the power supply.

For example, users who see vertical or horizontal lines running through their screens, pixels changing colors without cause, or icons blinking when they should be stationary may be experiencing issues with their power supply units. 

Note: It’s important to realize that none of these problems are exclusive to a faulty power supply. Many different issues can cause each of them.

That’s why it’s so important to perform a detailed troubleshooting session to figure out exactly what’s happening with a PC before “diagnosing” it. 

Why not buy the most powerful unit?

Insufficient power to a PC can result in many problems, so the easy solution should be to buy the most powerful PSU possible and use that, right? Not exactly. 

While doing that would solve a gamer’s insufficient power problems, it also creates new problems, usually in their bank account.

The more wattage a power supply unit can provide, the more that unit costs. 

Why waste all that extra money on power no one needs? That money is better spent on upgrades, games, or anything else!

Aside from all the wasted money, there’s no real disadvantage to buying a higher-kilowatt power system.

It isn’t going to fry the computer or anything like that, but why waste money on something unnecessary for an optimum gaming experience, especially when someone can quickly determine just how much power is needed to run a setup?

How to pick the right power supply unit

The best way for any gamer to pick the right PSU for his needs is to estimate how much power he’ll need to run his system while also considering future upgrades.

Luckily, the big brains at Newegg Insider developed a Power Supply Calculator for just this purpose. 

The Newegg Power Supply Calculator asks tons of questions about a gamer’s setup, including: 

  • The central processing unit (CPU) brand and series.
  • The type of motherboard in the system.
  • The type and series of the graphics processing unit (GPU).
  • How much random access memory (RAM) does the system have available?
  • The size of the solid-state drive (SSD).
  • The size/speed of the hard drive.
  • The type of optical drive used in the system (CD/DVD/Blu-ray/Combination).

Once a user enters all those specifications, the calculator will tell him exactly how many watts he needs to operate his gaming PC. 

Users should take that number and add 50 to 100 Watts for future upgrades.

Another option is to enter the specs in the calculator as if he already has his intended updates. That should give him a more accurate representation than just guessing. 

Another reason for buying a power supply slightly more powerful than required is the percentage of total load over extended periods.

With extra headroom in the power supply’s Wattage, the PSU runs under 100% capacity and can easily run your system.

This means less heat inside the power supply when operating, making it more likely for your PSU to have a longer lifespan.

Either way, that’s all it takes to figure out what kind of power supply unit he needs, and not having to go out and buy the mega 1,600-watt one will save him a ton of cash. 

Other factors when considering a power supply unit

Finding the appropriate wattage is paramount when considering which power supply unit to purchase.

However, there are other things that users must consider when trying to find the best unit for their needs. 

The number of connectors

A power supply connects to more than just the CPU; users must also hook it up to their graphics processing units, motherboards, and more.

A power supply unit that doesn’t have an appropriate number of connectors will be entirely useless.

Users don’t want to make this mistake because having enough connectors is essential to ensuring the PC works correctly. 

Some considerations are less important; if gamers make the wrong decision on those, it won’t destroy the system’s overall efficiency.

Determining the correct number of connectors isn’t one of them. However, users should try to get that right.

Opting for a power modular supply is more desirable. With this type of supply, you only plug in the cable you need for each component.

The physical size of the power supply unit

Power supply units come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes, a gamer finds one that he loves only to get home and find out it doesn’t fit inside his case.

It’s also essential for gamers to remember that it isn’t just the power supply unit that must fit inside the case. All the connector cables will be in there as well. 

How the inside of the case is packed can play a vital role in how well the PC performs.

For example, if the power supply unit fits but is slightly too large to fit comfortably, and all the cables are shoved in any way they can fit, that will seriously restrict the airflow inside the case. 

Restricted airflow can lead to overheating and other problems, so it’s best avoided.

The types of cables

There are three types of cables, these are:

  • Modular cables.
  • Non-modular cables.
  • Semi-modular cables.

The types of cables in a gamer’s system will play a large part in determining what type of power system he needs. That’s why it’s important to know the modularity of the cables upfront.

Built-In protection

This consideration is another one that users can’t overlook. Without adequate protection, one lightning strike or power surge can trash an entire PC, and that’s a lot of wasted money down the drain.

Most high-quality power source units now have built-in protection, but a few off-brands still don’t. 

I can simplify this decision for users by saying one simple thing: Buy a power supply unit with built-in protection. Period!

People invest too much time and money into building their gaming PCs to have them destroyed because they have no protection.

A PC’s power supply is centrally located; it connects to every piece of hardware used in the setup. That makes it the natural choice to protect everything.

Users should look for power supply units with built-in over-voltage protection, short circuit protection, and surge protection. 

Potential buyers shouldn’t seriously consider any power supply units that don’t have these features.

The ratings

Gamers should check the ratings on any power supply units they’re considering buying. They should look at both positive and negative reviews, especially the negative ones.

They should see what others say about how these units performed once installed.