I never think about the power supply in my gaming PC. It’s a 850W Bequiet! Straight power that I’ve owned for years and carried over between multiple builds.
Like most PC manufacturers, I planned to replace it once it reached the end of its life, which means I’ve got a few more years before this becomes an issue. That is, with the hardware I have now.
We’re on the verge of AMD’s and Nvidia’s next-generation GPUs, and all signs point to them consuming more power than ever. As benign as the best PC power supplies are, PSUs are primed to see reduced supply and higher prices as next-gen GPUs roll out, especially when many builders need to upgrade. For almost a decade it was easy to ignore your power supply, but that time is coming to an end.
A decade of loneliness
For the past decade or so, a 750W PSU has been more than adequate for even the highest-end gaming PCs. Nvidia’s GTX 690, released about 10 years ago, peaked at 300W, and Intel’s high-end Sandy Bridge E chip surged to 130W. Since then, power requirements have remained relatively stable, and in many cases dropped.
So if you bought a 750W PSU with a 10-year warranty a decade ago (Seasonic, Corsair, and EVGA, among others, offer 10-year warranties on many PSUs), there was no reason to upgrade. It changes. Nvidia, AMD and Intel are pushing the performance ranges to heights we’ve never seen before.
This is the first time components have forced an upgrade in a long time.
The current generation is showing many signs of this. The RTX 3080, for example, is the first GPU in its class to surpass the 250W mark, and the RTX 3090 Ti is the first consumer GPU to ever surpass 400W. Similarly, Intel’s Core i9-12900K can consume around 240W when booting up, almost doubling the power draw of previous generations. I don’t yet know what’s in store for Ryzen 7000, but the Ryzen 7 5800X3D has already shown that AMD’s designs could have higher thermal and power requirements in the future.
750W is no longer enough for a high-end gaming PC, even if companies like Nvidia are pointing it out (this is the official PSU recommendation for the RTX 3090, after all). While it’s a good idea to swap out your power supply for greater efficiency, or swap out a device that’s reached the end of its useful life, this is the first time components have forced an upgrade in a long time. And that increasingly applies to the next generation.
The problem isn’t that you might need to replace your power supply with next-gen upgrades — it’s that we could see power shortages and increased prices. If you’re looking to upgrade as next-gen CPUs and GPUs roll out, now is the time to upgrade your PSU.
Don’t wait for prices to go up
We stare into the barrel of the RTX 40 series and RX 7000, both of which are said to have extremely high performance requirements. Some leakers say the RTX 4090 could draw up to 600W, and while we haven’t heard anything about AMD’s RX 7000 cards, the current-gen RX 6000 cards are already pushing performance to heights AMD has never reached before Has.
Waiting for next-gen parts to show up may be too late, though. The start of 2020 brought a power shortage due to the pandemic, which continued throughout the year due to increased demand from cryptocurrency miners. Not to mention manufacturers upgrading their power supplies to accommodate a new graphics card that draws more power.
We don’t have a pandemic to deal with in 2022 — at least not in full force — but that doesn’t mean demand for power supplies won’t pick up. If the rumors about the power requirements of next-gen components are true, I’d bet that many people who rely on the adage that 750W is enough will be looking for an upgrade.
Power supplies will almost certainly see higher prices.
Also, don’t discount cryptocurrency mining. Although Ethereum has fallen, it could rise again. Proof of Stake has been constantly delayed, and we have two generations of history showing what happens as new GPUs come to market. I definitely hope that miners will not buy next-gen cards and power supplies with it. But based on the past two generations, it’s a safer assumption than assuming GPUs and power supplies won’t sell out.
Prices are another important factor. While there’s a good chance we won’t see PSU shortages like early 2020, we will almost certainly see rising prices. Right now, during the hiatus before next-gen GPUs emerge, PSUs are cheaper than they were six months ago.
|November 18, 2021||May 18, 2022||Percent Change|
Source: PC Parts Selection
There are some power supplies that are more expensive — Seasonic power supplies in particular are consistently more expensive than they were six months ago — but many of the most popular options are up to 30% cheaper than they were at the end of last year. New power supplies also receive discounts. The recently launched Gigabyte Aorus P1200W, for example, is down to $310 after launching near $380 less than a month ago.
Half a year ago, the prices for these power supplies were not at their highest either. For example, Corsair’s RM750 sold for as much as $130, and the EVGA SuperNOVA GA 850W sold for between $140 and $160 for most of 2021. Once demand picks up with new GPUs, prices could return to those highs.
What I recommend
You should buy a new power supply if you plan to upgrade to a next-gen GPU before They arrive. That could be now, especially if you’re sitting on a power supply that’s showing its age, or it could be after Nvidia and AMD have finally pulled back the curtain on our next generation of options. Just don’t wait until you buy a new GPU where you’re probably paying a premium for a part you can get cheaper now.
This is also the perfect time to start thinking about what you want. If you’re reading this on the day of publication, Computex starts tomorrow. Given that the source of updates for AMD and Nvidia has dried up, I assume we’ll take a look at the next-gen. And that means a PSU upgrade is in order.
This article is part of ReSpec – an ongoing bi-weekly column featuring discussion, advice and in-depth coverage of the technology behind PC gaming.