If the combination of the motherboard and CPU is the soul of your PC, the cabinet and power supply (or PSU, as it is called) would make its body. These are two very important components of your machine, but are most commonly ignored by customers. Most insist on the cheapest options available. However, you should pay very close attention to both these components because the performance of your shiny new processor, motherboard and graphics card depends heavily on these. Inadequate power, fluctuations, insufficient cooling, overheating and system stability are just some of the dangers you should keep in mind while shopping for the cabinet and PSU. The bottom line: In a country such as India, inconsistent electricity supply and overheating account for most PC failures.
When shopping for a cabinet or PSU, you would be wrong in thinking that these components don’t do anything for performance. Think of these binaries as twin protectors and facilitators of your PC, and it’s always a good idea to keep at least 10-15% of your overall budget for a PC on a good PSU and a well-ventilated cabinet.
Some vendors will try to fool you by showing off the number of fans or vents a cabinet has. Remember, having more fans isn’t always better. Airflow is the numero uno priority here, and two fans blowing air across each other or facing each other and blowing in opposite directions could actually be worse than no fans at all. Your cabinet needs carefully manipulated airflow, designed to divert hot air out of the cabinet through its vents, and suck in cool air from outside—the goal is defined air paths, not turbulence.
Power trip: Don’t be fooled by the power ratings of the PSU.
And don’t be fooled by power ratings. A good way to judge these is to note the weight of the unit—the heavier the better. This is because such units will have better quality and larger heatsinks and power capacitor units. With PSUs, brands are quite important, more so than for cabinets. Modular PSUs are helpful, since you only use the cables you need. This helps prevent cable clutter and optimize airflow. Opt for an SMPS (switched-mode power supply) with Active PFC (power factor correction). Active PFC uses a dedicated circuit to maintain accurate power distribution. This method of power correction also reduces harmonics (interference) and corrects power delivery according to the AC input voltage.
Another noteworthy factor to consider when choosing PSUs is their efficiency, which is measured as a percentage—the higher the percentage, the greater the efficiency of the unit. Look for PSUs rated at 80% and above; these are also called 80+ units.
Of course, your choice of cabinet and PSU depends on the kind of components in your PC. A gaming rig needs a well-ventilated cabinet and a powerful PSU, while an HTPC (home theatre personal computer) needs a really small box-type cabinet and a compact PSU. Casual users may need something simple and affordable.
For a generic good build, CoolerMaster 690 (Rs3,500) is a good option. If you want something really beautiful, check out the CM Cosmos S (Rs13,500): It has touch controls, is all-aluminium build and has excellent cooling options that include a huge 200mm side fan, a meshed side and front combined with LED fans. Antec’s 900 (Rs8,000) is another good option: It’s much lighter and its build seems a bit too flimsy for that.
For beefy PSUs, check out Corsair’s HX and TX series. The HX 1000 sits atop the PSU food chain and will handle anything this side of a three-way GTX 280 plus over-clocked quad core set-up. Corsair’s TX 650 represents the value entrant to the high-end PSUs. All these are superb options for powerful PCs. Corsair’s VX 450 should handle mid-range gaming set-ups.
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