Seeking PC power supply recommendation
July 31, 2005 9:07 PM   Subscribe

I am in the process of building an AMD Sempron 2400+ based file storage machine. I am seeking recommendation for how big a power supply I need. I am planning on 4 to 5 (may be 6 in future) 250GB Seagates, 2x320GB WD Sata drives, 1 DVD writer, Geforce FX 5500 video card. The $50 case has a stock 480W PSU. I am wondering if I need more juice and possibly something by a well known brand ? I recently built an Athlon box with Seasonic 430 PSU. Seems pretty quiet. Not sure if I should get another of those.
posted by flyby22 to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
480W will be fine. You're looking at about 400-420W of draw, with the specs you've posted here.
posted by Jairus at 9:12 PM on July 31, 2005

wattage is fine. PSU choice is not. unless you bought an Antec case or something like that, then you've got a no-name PSU that may not actually perform adequately once you get everything plugged in; I'd go ahead and buy an Antec or such at around 480-500wt.
posted by mrg at 9:32 PM on July 31, 2005

There is no way you will be drawing anything close to 400W. More like 200W. 20W for a hard drive is a lot, it can happen, but it is very high, so 7 drives for 100W is realistic. I don't know the official draw of a Sempron, but it is probably sub 50W...

The stock power supply is probably good enough, I wouldn't count on the rating being accurate, but you won't need it to be.

One problem you will have is drive spin up. spinning up the drive to full speed when you first turn the system on can draw a lot of current - with 7-8 drives in the system that might cause trouble. I wouldn't through money at that problem until you find that it actually exists...

I might not be the right person to ask, I have learned many ways to make do with minimal cost. People with a lot of money to through around like name brands, and will say things like "you get what you pay for"; I get a lot of great stuff out of other people's garbage.
posted by Chuckles at 9:45 PM on July 31, 2005

You throw through the hoop. Duh! (this will probably be seen as a joke and get deleted, but I don't really believe in vanity corrections anyway, so... )
posted by Chuckles at 9:49 PM on July 31, 2005

There's a power supply calculator here. And I second mrg's suggestion to get a name-brand case or power supply--Antec, CoolerMaster, something like that. I can't say I've had a bad experience with generic ones, but I've never tried to run 4-5 HDs and a modern, power-hungry CPU and vidcard on one either.

(By the way, if it's just a file storage box, why the GeForce card? Whatever old AGP card you can lay your hands on will probably work just as well and suck less power if you're not using it as a gaming rig...)
posted by arto at 10:12 PM on July 31, 2005

The rig I built a couple of months ago is based around a DFI nForce4 Ultra-D motherboard. Soon after I put it together, DFI bumped up the required (not just recommended) power supply to 480W.

I bought an Enermax Noisetaker 375W before that, but have had no problems, even with 3 hard drives and a fairly stonking video card, etc. Others have not been so lucky. It's more important to have good solid power than lots'o'watts.

One thing to look out for, which I did, luckily, was that some newer AMD boards, like mine, require a native 24-pin power connecter.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:07 AM on August 1, 2005

arto I agree with your comment about the Geforce card. It is just that I have that card from another machine; unless i go out and buy something less fancy.
posted by flyby22 at 5:34 AM on August 1, 2005

If you can get another Seasonic, it's worth it. They very high quality, usually have PFC and high efficiency (which saves electricity and reduces heat greatly), and run very quietly. They're not over-rated and can take a higher continuous draw than cheap PSUs. They're held in high regard by the silent PC community.

The reason why companies recommend power supplies with ridiculously high wattage ratings, like stavros mentioned, is because there's a lot of over-rated cheapo PSUs out there.
posted by zsazsa at 5:54 AM on August 1, 2005

PC Power & Cooling makes the best PC power supplies I've ever seen (or used). I won't put anything else in systems I build.
posted by mrbill at 9:23 AM on August 1, 2005

$50 does not buy you a case and real 480 watt PSU. More likely you're getting a case and a 180 watt PSU with a 480 watt sticker on it. I know this because I've opened several of these cheap chinese contraptions to find the real ratings printed on the PCB, often as part of the model number.

The easiest way to tell if the PSU is garbage or not is a comparison weigh. Compare it against a known quality brand psu, like enermax or seasonic or whoever you prefer, of about the same wattage. If the case's PSU is noticeably lighter, there's a reason. That reason is tiny heatsinks meant to sink accordingly little heat.

I would suggest buying the case without the power supply and replacing it with something that's quality. Names on my personal "banlist":

L&C, AN, Foxlink, Allied, Deer, Eagle, Foxconn, Austin, Codegen, Logic, Duro, PowerUp, Hercules, Powerstar, Mercury, Top Power, Concept, PowerStar, US-Can, Hyena, Leadman, Powmax, Robanton, Raidmax, Q-Tec, EZ-Media, Transworld, King Case, King Yes, Fortron, Qmax.

There's more but I'm exhausted.

(Side note: Most "300 watt" versions of this PSU use the old Deer AX-200 PSU board that sets on fire. Seriously. Watch the parts glow red hot if you open it [danger!])

There's a lot more crap PSUs out there with different brand names on them. L&C/Deer change their name every so often to keep retailers like me on their toes. Hence the need to weigh PSUs...

I've probably sold hundreds of Enermax PSUs at my store and I've never had to process a return yet. Perhaps that guy had bad luck. Anyways, you can always get a Delta PSU if you don't want lots of features, but a good price and no flames to boot! :-D
posted by shepd at 10:22 AM on August 1, 2005

I have had four power supplies go out on me in my lifetime. I've never had a CPU, RAM, or a motherboard die on me that wasn't adequately cooled. The PSU is the single-biggest reliability problem in any computer system, so pony-up for a good one.

GOOD means RELIABLE, not necessarily POWERFUL.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:04 PM on August 1, 2005

The easiest way to tell if the PSU is garbage or not is a comparison weigh.

Just wanted to add: shepd's advice is very good, and this is a traditionally "quick and dirty" method that, for the most part, works.

Also: Power supplies die with a bang, not a whimper. When one had a bad cap that blew, I heard the thing three rooms away and it sounded like a gunshot.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:08 PM on August 1, 2005

alright i have been scared enough. I ordered a Seasonic 600W so that i will never have to buy another one after this even if other parts get obsolete :)
posted by flyby22 at 3:40 PM on August 1, 2005

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