Building a new PC or upgrading your existing system? One component that often gets overlooked is the power supply unit (PSU). But having the right PSU is crucial for a stable and high performing computer.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about picking the best modular PSU for your needs and budget.
What is a Modular Power Supply?
First, let’s cover the basics. A PSU converts outlet power into stable, clean electricity that your PC components can use. The key specs to look for are:
- Wattage – The max power output in Watts that the PSU can deliver. This must match or exceed your PC’s power requirements.
- Efficiency – How well it converts input power into DC output. Higher is better, measured in 80 Plus ratings from Bronze to Titanium.
- Modularity – Whether the cables are permanently attached or can be detached. Modular allows removing unneeded cables.
A modular PSU takes this a step further by letting you only connect the specific cables your build needs, while leaving the rest detached. This allows for cleaner cable management, better airflow, and less clutter in your PC case.
Modular PSUs have become extremely popular in recent years, offering flexibility that regular non-modular models lack. Let’s examine why you should consider modular for your next build or upgrade.
Benefits of a Modular Power Supply
There are several key advantages that make modular PSUs worth the slight additional cost over non-modular:
- Customizability – Only use the cables your exact setup requires. Leave off what you don’t need.
- Easier cable management – Reduces cable clutter for improved case airflow and aesthetics.
- Upgrade friendly – Can add new cables if components change down the road.
- Better airflow – Detached cables aren’t blocking fans and ventilation paths.
- Flexibility – Arrange cables to minimize length and interference.
- Single rail option – Can connect multiple connectors to the same rail for high power delivery.
- Aesthetics – Cleaner case interior with just essential cables attached. Great for case mods and RGB lighting builds.
As long as the PSU is sufficiently powerful for your components and from a reputable brand, a modular version will make your build and future upgrades much simpler. It’s one of the best investments you can make.
Key Factors for Selecting the Best Modular PSU
With so many models on the market, it can be tricky choosing the right modular PSU for your system. Here are the most important factors to consider:
Power Output (Wattage)
The PSU needs to meet or exceed the total power requirements of all your components put together. Add up the needs of the CPU, GPU, drives, fans, peripherals, and any overclocking to determine the necessary wattage.
Most builds are fine with 500-850 watts, but high end systems with multiple GPUs can require 1000W or more. Getting more wattage than you need is useless, so calculate carefully.
Higher efficiency equals less power wasted as heat and lower electricity bills. Look for models with 80 Plus Bronze or ideally 80 Plus Gold and above. The rating is a guarantee of efficiency at different load levels.
- Bronze = 82-85% efficient at 20-100% load
- Silver = 87-90%
- Gold = 90-92%
- Platinum = 92-94%
- Titanium = 94-96%
While Titanium is best, it often costs substantially more. Gold offers the ideal balance for most users.
Fully vs Semi Modular Design
Fully modular PSUs allow every cable to be detached as needed. Semi modular models have some permanent primary cables, but everything else is removable.
Fully modular is most flexible, but semi modular works well if the fixed cables are ones you need anyway. Just make sure the removable connectors are sufficient for your planned build.
Physical Size andDimensions
Make sure the PSU will actually fit and be compatible with your PC case. The mounting form factor (ATX, SFX, etc) and dimensions need to align with your case’s power supply bay.
Check the case specs for max PSU length in particular. Modular PSUs are often longer than non-modular.
Reputable Brand With Good Warranties
Stick with well-known PSU brands like Corsair, EVGA, Seasonic, Thermaltake, Cooler Master, etc. Check professional reviews of any models you’re considering before purchasing.
Many quality PSUs come with 5-10 year warranties, which is reassuring for longevity. Register your warranty as well.
Budget Based on Needed Features
Modular PSU prices currently range from around $60 up to $250+. You want the best quality you can afford, but don’t overspend on unnecessary wattage or features.
Set a budget that fits the spec needs above and provides some future upgradability buffer. Those fancy titanium units may not be worth it if you’re on a budget.
Extra Features and Aesthetics
Modular PSUs often have nice premium features beyond the basics:
- RGB lighting – Makes the interior pop visually. Sync up colors with other components.
- Braided cables – More aesthetically pleasing than plain versions. May be sold separately.
- Fanless mode – Fan doesn’t spin unless under heavy load. Whisper quiet.
- Compact size – Fits small form factor cases better for mini-ITX builds.
- Single +12V rail – Gives more power output flexibility for high end builds.
- Hybrid fan control – Fan speed varies based on temperature and load for cool and quiet operation.
Prioritize core performance and reliability first, but these extras add fun flair. Just don’t overpay for lighting and extras you won’t really benefit from.
The Top 5 Modular Power Supplies
Now let’s look at some of the best modular PSU options currently available from top brands at different budget levels.
1. Corsair RM850x
The Corsair RM850x is a prime pick for a high end fully modular PSU thanks to its extremely clean and stable power delivery.
- 850W max power
- 80 Plus Gold certified
- Fully modular cables
- 10 year warranty
- Very efficient even at low loads
- Rock solid electrical performance
- Nearly silent operation
- Heaps of power for future upgrades
- Fully modular for easy cable management
- 10 year warranty is reassuring
- On the expensive side
- Not as flashy as some models with lots of RGB
- Only 850W, but enough for most systems
The RM850x is our top choice if you want a best-in-class PSU with zero compromises. It will handle even high end systems with ease and last through future upgrades. Well worth the price for serious PC enthusiasts.
2. EVGA Supernova 750 G5
For an affordable but still highly capable option, the new EVGA Supernova 750 G5 hits a sweet spot.
- 750W max power
- 80 Plus Gold efficiency
- 10 year warranty
- Semi modular
- Great bang for your buck value
- Good reputation and 10 year peace of mind
- Handles up to enthusiast level GPUs easily
- Efficient under typical loads
- Looks great through case windows
- Loud fan at very high loads
- Not fully modular
- No fancy extras like RGB lighting
The EVGA Supernova 750 G5 gives you rock solid performance and quality at a mid-range price point. Ideal for most gaming rigs that don’t need elaborate mods and maximum wattage capacity.
3. Seasonic Focus GX-850
Seasonic is the gold standard for PSUs, and their Focus GX-850 is fantastically efficient and reliable.
- 850W max power
- 80 Plus Gold efficiency
- Fully modular
- 12 year warranty
- Gold rated efficiency for lower electricity bills
- Performs extremely well under load
- Fully modular design
- Quiet hybrid fan control
- 12 year warranty for peace of mind
- Cables can be a bit stiff
- Lacks RGB lighting
- Pricey for 850W model
You can’t go wrong with a Seasonic, especially for important power supply duties. This delivers excellent performance all around.
4. be quiet! Straight Power 11 850W
For near silent running, the be quiet! Straight Power 11 850W is an excellent fully modular choice.
- 850W max power
- 80 Plus Platinum efficient
- Fully modular
- 5 year warranty
- Platinum rating for max efficiency
- Virtually inaudible even under load
- Great voltage stability for overclocking
- Fully modular for flexible cable management
- Understated professional looks
- Not cheap for 850W model
- No flashy extras like RGB lighting
If a whisper quiet PSU is important for your build, this be quiet! unit is purpose-built for silent running even at high loads. A quiet computing paradise.
5. NZXT C650
For an entry level fully modular PSU, NZXT’s new C-Series hits all the key specs for less.
- 650W max power
- 80 Plus Bronze efficiency
- Fully modular
- 5 year warranty
- Costs noticeably less than competitors
- Sufficient wattage for most mid-range builds
- Fully modular for flexibility
- Has nice RGB accent lighting
- Reputable brand with 5 year coverage
- Only Bronze efficiency rating
- 650W limit excludes high end parts
- No braided cable options
If you’re working with a limited budget but want modularity, the NZXT C650 delivers respectable performance at the lowest cost.
How to Select the Perfect Modular PSU for Your Build
Now that we’ve covered the benefits of modular PSUs and the top models available, let’s discuss how to select the ideal one tailored for your specific system build and needs:
- First, use online power supply calculators to determine the necessary wattage for all of your PC’s components. Add some headroom for future upgrades and overclocking.
- Decide which 80 Plus efficiency rating you’re aiming for based on your budget. Bronze is okay for tight budgets but Gold offers the best efficiency to cost balance.
- Determine if you should get a fully or semi modular PSU based on the number of component connectors you actually need. Fully is preferred but semi works if the fixed cables are useful anyway.
- Make sure the PSU physically fits and is compatible with your PC case in terms of dimensions and mounting. Measure carefully before purchase.
- Only buy PSUs from reputable brands like Corsair, EVGA, and Seasonic. Check professional reviews before choosing a model.
- Check that the PSU has a sufficiently long warranty of at least 5 years and ideally 10 years for peace of mind.
- Set a budget for what modular PSU capabilities and extras you can afford. Focus on core performance first before RGB lighting.
- Read through this guide for specific PSU recommendations in your budget range for different types of systems.
By carefully weighing these factors, you can zero in on a modular PSU that offers exactly the features, power, and quality needed for your build. Investing in a good PSU pays dividends by enabling a stable, upgrade-friendly system for years to come.
Frequently Asked Modular PSU Questions
If you’re still not sure about some aspects of selecting and using a modular power supply unit, here are answers to some common questions:
What’s the main advantage of a modular PSU?
The ability to only use and connect the cables your specific build needs, while detaching any unnecessary ones. This allows for much cleaner cable management.
Is a higher wattage PSU better even if I don’t need it?
No, higher than needed wattage is actually worse, as PSUs are most efficient when loaded to around 50-75% of their max capacity. Get a wattage that matches your actual component power draw.
Are modular PSUs more expensive than non-modular?
Yes, modular PSUs usually cost $20-30 more than non-modular equivalents. However, the benefits are often worth the small price premium.
What 80 Plus efficiency rating should I look for in a PSU?
80 Plus Gold is the sweet spot for most builds. It offers great efficiency that really makes a difference in power bills compared to standard Bronze units.
Is there a big difference between fully and semi modular PSUs?
Fully modular is more flexible, but semi is a good alternative if the permanently attached cables are ones you need anyway for your build.
Do I need to purchase fancy braided replacement cables?
The stock cables that come with most quality PSUs are perfectly fine. Braided cables are purely for aesthetics if your PC is visible through a case window.
What should I do if my new PSU has coil whine or other noise?
First try disconnecting cables one by one to isolate the noise. If it still persists, you most likely have a defective unit that you should RMA under warranty.
How long should a good PSU reasonably last before needing replacement?
A quality PSU from a top brand can easily last 5-7 years or more, and many come with 5-10 year warranties. Just don’t skimp on a cheap no-name unit.
In Summary: Choosing the Best Modular PSU
Selecting the right modular power supply unit ensures your PC has stable, clean, and reliable power delivery. By following this guide, you can narrow down the optimal model for your build and budget.
The key factors to keep in mind are:
- Sufficient wattage for all components with some headroom
- 80 Plus Bronze or preferably Gold efficiency rating
- Fully or semi modular design based on needed cables
- Reputable brand with at least a 5 year warranty
- Aesthetic extras like RGB lighting if desired
High quality PSUs aren’t glamorous, but they enable your high end GPUs, CPUs, drives and other components to run smoothly. Invest wisely and your system will have power to spare now and for future upgrades down the road.
What modular PSU is powering your current build? Let us know in the comments if you have any favorite models we should check out!