Installing a Power Supply (PSU) in Your PC

Installing a Power Supply (PSU) in Your PC

The power supply unit (PSU) is crucial for your computer, providing power to essential hardware like the motherboard, processor, and graphics card. Despite the intimidating array of cables, this guide simplifies the installation process. The PSU is typically one of the final components to install, alongside the graphics card. Whether you’re a newcomer or upgrading an existing build, here’s how to install the PSU in your PC.

Within this guide, we’ll assist in installing the component cables provided with your power supply, often deemed tedious by novice PC builders. By the article’s conclusion, you’ll grasp the motherboard’s power cable connections. This guide details the step-by-step process of installing the power supply (PSU) in your PC case.

Considerations Before PSU Purchase

Assess PSU Wattage Rating

Prior to installing your power supply, ensure compatibility with your computer system by calculating total wattage consumption and comparing it to the PSU’s total wattage. It’s recommended to purchase a PSU with a total wattage at least 150-200W higher than calculated consumption to accommodate power spikes.

Use OuterVision’s Power Supply Calculator tool to accurately determine your system’s wattage needs. Additionally, note that some PSU makers may not list correct maximum supported wattage, offering subpar products. Purchase PSUs from reputable brands and review before buying.

Checking for an 80 Plus Rating

When purchasing a power supply unit (PSU), caution is crucial. High wattage at a low price may deceive, delivering less than advertised and potentially harming PC components. To ensure quality, verify an 80 Plus rating.

The 80 Plus system categorizes PSUs by quality and efficiency, with tiers such as Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Given its significance, never compromise on the PSU quality; invest in the best for your build.

Examine Power Supply Connectors

Ensure your power supply has sufficient connectors for your CPU and GPU. Some motherboards require dual CPU connectors, and newer graphics cards like the GeForce RTX 4090 GPU need at least three PCIe 8-pin connectors. High-wattage PSUs, such as a 1,000W unit, may lack enough connectors for all components. Confirm compatibility among your components and the availability of required connectors on your chosen PSU.

Essential Tools for Installing a PSU in Your PC

Gather Necessary Tools

Prior to PC assembly, collect all installation materials and tools. You’ll specifically need a Philips Head screwdriver. Ensure a clean, static-free workspace (avoid working on carpet). Also, use an anti-static bracelet to prevent electrostatic damage.

Install Core Components in PC Case

Prior to PSU installation, ensure the motherboard is securely in place within the PC case, alongside essential components such as the CPU (such as the Intel Core i9-13900K), RAM, and storage drives. Pre-install hard disk drives (HDD) and 2.5-inch SATA SSDs before PSU installation.

Ensure the motherboard, storage drives, processor, and CPU cooler are all installed. Exclude the graphics card for easier cable routing and management during installation. Begin by connecting a few power connectors from the PSU before installing the graphics card along with its various PCIe power connectors (explained below).

Plug in PSU Power Connectors

  • 24-pin power connector: Powers your motherboard, distributing power to internal components.
  • CPU power connector: Powers the processor. Check your motherboard; you may need 2x 8-pin connectors.
  • PCIe power connectors: Powers the graphics card. Depending on your GPU model, use a specific number of 6- or 8-pin connectors.
  • Peripheral Power Connectors (MOLEX and SATA): These connectors power your storage drives such as SATA HDDs or SSDs and other peripherals like case fans and RGB lighting. It’s recommended to plug in at least one SATA power connector, but if you have multiple HDDs/SSDs and peripherals, you may need two. Refer to your power supply and component documentation to determine the required number of connectors.

Note: If you have a non-modular PSU, you can proceed with the installation guide and omit unused cables.

Installing Power Supply (PSU) in PC Case

1. Once you have your power supply and installation tools ready, determine where to install the PSU. In many PC cases, the power supply shroud is typically located at the bottom, though in some cases, it may be at the top. Ensure proper ventilation for the power supply fan in its final orientation.

2. Next, position the power supply in its designated spot, ensuring alignment of the power supply fan with the ventilation cutout in the case. Typically, you’ll place the PSU with the fan facing downwards.

Ensure the PSU fan aligns with the case ventilation holes. If blocked facing downwards, adjust the power supply orientation for proper cooling.

Installing a Power Supply (PSU) in Your PC

3. Once positioned correctly, screw in the power supply in the PC case. Tighten screws diagonally to distribute stress evenly.

Connecting Power Supply to Motherboard Components

After installing the power supply, the crucial step is connecting PSU cables to the necessary motherboard connectors. Here’s how:

1. Begin by extracting all power cables from the power supply and pull them out from behind the PC case (opposite side of the tempered glass one) for basic cable management. Next, route each power connector to the nearest cable management hole on the back side, based on its connection point on the motherboard. Consult your motherboard manual for precise locations.

For instance, here’s our PC build’s cable routing layout. If your PC case lacks suitable cable management routing options, you can handle the cables as best as possible.

2. Begin by inserting the 24-pin motherboard power cable and 8-pin CPU power connectors into their respective female counterparts. Apply firm pressure with your hand to ensure secure installation. The highlighted notch on the cable and motherboard should align and snap into place smoothly. Repeat this process for the CPU power connector.

  • 24-pin motherboard power
  • 8-pin CPU power

6. Install the graphics card onto your motherboard and secure it in the computer case. Then, find the power connectors on your GPU. Proceed to connect the 8-pin or 6-pin PCIe power cables needed to power your graphics card. The orientation for plugging in the PCIe 8-pin power cable may vary depending on the GPU. Be sure to locate the notches where the power connector attaches. These notches may also be positioned on the opposite side at times.

To install Nvidia Founders Edition graphics cards, ensure your ATX 3.0 power supply accommodates the 12-pin or 16-pin connectors. For older power supplies, use the adapter included with the GPU. Attach the necessary 8-pin PCI-e connectors to one side of the adapter, then connect the 12-pin or 16-pin connector to your Nvidia GPU.

Next, insert the SATA power connectors into your hard drive or SSD, ensuring proper alignment. Additionally, connect the required SATA or MOLEX power connectors for other peripherals, such as PC case RGB lighting or fans.

8. Having successfully installed the power supply and its cables, it’s time for the next steps. Use zip ties for proper cable management and optimal performance. Neatly securing cables improves airflow and gives your PC a clean look.

9. Proceed with the remaining PC build tasks. Install the side panels and secure them. Connect the main power cable to the power supply and plug it into an outlet. For PSUs of 1,300W+, ensure you use a 16A socket. Consult an electrician for better compatibility.

Curious about the power supply switch markings? Here’s the deal: A line (-) means ON, while a circle (O) means OFF.

10. Done! Assuming all components are correctly installed and the power switch is connected to the motherboard, your PC should turn on with the press of its button.

Here’s all you need to know about installing a power supply unit (PSU) and its various connectors. By following these steps, you can successfully install the PSU in your PC case. Though the process may seem daunting with its multitude of cables and costly components, it becomes easier when you carefully adhere to the manual and our guide. As one of the final steps in PC assembly, we trust your build is now complete. Should you have any doubts or encounter issues during installation, feel free to seek assistance in the comments below.

How do I power on my PC? What do the switches next to the PSU power plug signify?

To turn on your PC, flip the PSU switch to the “ON” state, indicated by the line symbol. Then, press the power button on your case. The circle mark on the PSU button indicates it’s in an ‘OFF’ state. Never flip the switch while the PC is running, but you can force shut down by holding down the power button.

My PC needs an upgrade and the older PSU isn’t compatible. Can you swap power supplies?

Yes, you can swap out an older PSU for a new one easily. Remove the existing PSU first and note where the connectors were. Then, follow our guide to install the new power supply.

Do I connect the PSU to a 16A socket or is a lower amperage one fine?

Using a 16A socket is only necessary for high-end power supplies. The power plug of the PSU specifies the required amperage for proper function. Therefore, you can decide whether a 16A socket is needed.

Do I need to connect my PSU to a UPS?

Connecting your PSU to a UPS isn’t essential since the power supply includes protection mechanisms for power loss. However, having a UPS is advisable for important work to prevent data loss. Power cuts may lead to PC shutdowns and storage corruption, making a UPS a wise investment for most users.

How should I orient the power supply? Should the fan face upward or downward?

The orientation of the power supply depends on the location of ventilation holes in the PSU chamber/shroud of your case. Ensure the fan faces the direction where it can draw in fresh air to cool the unit effectively.