Gaming computers are getting more power-hungry nowadays. As the hardware gets more powerful, the electricity consumption gets higher as well. This might be a problem for some who are encountering rising electricity costs.
But there is a way to monitor your computer’s power consumption – by checking how many watts it is using. Knowing this information will allow you to plan a more balanced usage and in turn, you will save some money by reducing the electric bill.
That said if you are interested in finally checking your PC’s wattage look no further, as we’ve got you covered.
What is The Best Way to Check How Many Watts your PC is Using
A power meter is the best way to determine how many watts your PC is using. Several power meters are available, but the Kill-A-Watt P3 P4400 is one of the most recommended.
Using a power meter is easy. Here’s a general step-by-step guide. This one works with the Kill-A-Watt P3 P4400 but is roughly the same with other watt meters.
- First, you need to plug the power meter into a wall outlet.
- Connect your desktop computer to your power meter.
- Turn on your PC, and the power meter will display how many watts your PC uses on the small LCD screen.
- Play some games or run some benchmarks to get the maximum consumption of your computer.
The power meter is the best and easiest way to check how many Watts your PC consumes. However, it is only applicable if you already have a computer and only want to know the power consumption.
If you are still in the planning phase, a power meter will not help you choose the best power supply for your system.
How to Check How Many Watts your PC is Using through a Software
Hardware Monitor is software that reads the sensors of your PC system. It shows you the voltage, temperature, power consumption, and many more. The best part of using it is that it is free.
Here is how you could check your PC power consumption through Hardware Monitor.
- Download the Hardware Monitor here.
- Once installed, open Hardware Monitor.
- Press the Minus (-) symbol and minimize everything to reduce visual clutter.
- Leave the Graphics Card tab open. It will be NVIDIA GeForce + Model Name if you use an Nvidia graphics card and AMD Radeon + Model Name if you use an AMD card.
- Minimize the options under the Graphics Card tab and leave the “Powers” open.
- Write down the Max Value for now.
- Open a game or run a benchmark to see if the Maximum Watts spikes up. In this case, the graphics card consumption increased by as much as four times. This value will change depending on your PC hardware. Write the new max value.
- Next, minimize the Graphics Card tab and Open the CPU Tab. It will be labeled as AMD Ryzen or Intel Core depending on your computer specs.
- Minimize all the options under the CPU Tab but leave the Powers tab open. If you already ran a benchmark or a game, then you will see the Max value close to the rated Wattage set by the manufacturer. In this case, the Ryzen 5 CPU has a max consumption of 65 Watts. The max reading through Hardware Monitor is close to that value.
- Write down the CPU max value.
- Add the Graphics Card max value and the CPU max value, then add the following values. Remember these are estimates as Hardware Monitor could not detect the actual power consumption of these components.
- PC Case Fans – 1.8 Watts
- Hard Drive – 8 Watts
- Solid State Drive – 3-5 Watts
- The total of these numbers would be your estimated power consumption.
As mentioned earlier, the Power Meter method is still the most accurate one. However, this method is acceptable if you want to have an idea of how many watts your PC is using.
How to compute Power Supply Watts for an Upcoming PC Build
Before buying a power supply, it is a great idea to compute your power consumption before deciding how many watts your PSU should be. In turn, you will not be shorthanded or save money by not overspending on a power supply.
There are power supply calculators available on the internet. Popular brands like Seasonic and PC retailers like Newegg even have their own PSU calculator.
We will be using Newegg’s PSU calculator this time to determine a mid-range computer PSU wattage. Feel free to follow with your own parts list.
- Enter your CPU of choice in the Central Processing Unit (CPU) dropdown menu.
- Select your Motherboard Type. This will depend on your type of build.
- Choose your Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). First, choose the Chipset – either AMD or Nvidia. Then select the GPU Model. On the right, you may choose the number of GPUs.
- Select your Random Access Memory (RAM). Choose whether it is a DDR4 or DDR5 module. Select your RAM Capacity but do not forget to choose on the right side if you have one or more sticks of RAM.
- Choosing the RAM is a little bit confusing. The ideal gaming PC right now has 16GB of memory, but do not select 16GB, then leave the quantity at one if you are running two 8GB sticks. You must choose 8GB and then update the quantity to two.
- Select the Solid State Drives (SSD) on the drop-down menu. Update the quantity of the right depending on how many SSDs you use.
- If you are using a mechanical Hard Drive, choose if it is 2.5” or 3.5” and if it is running at 5400RPM or 7200RPM. The common ones right now are 3.5” 7200RPM. Update the quantity on the right depending on your build. The common ones are 3.5” 7200RPM, so feel free to choose that if you are unsure.
- Lastly, select an Optical Drive on the dropdown menu if you use one. Most modern builds do not use one anymore.
- The total PSU Wattage suggested will appear at the bottom.
The Newegg PSU calculator or any other online calculator is not an accurate representation of the computer’s Watts or power consumption. It only serves as a guide to how many watts a PSU should be based on the components chosen.
More often than not, it is 100 Watts or more than the actual consumption. The headroom makes way for other factors such as overclocking, the number of accessories installed, the number of populated USB ports, and many more.
Having a PSU headroom also means that the power supply is not overworked and thus has a more efficient way of providing power to the components.
Why you need to know how many watts your PC is using
The number of Watts that your PC uses is relative to the amount of electricity it consumes. The higher the wattage use, then the higher your electricity bill is.
Now, if you already have a desktop computer, knowing how many watts it consumes would give you an estimate of its daily or monthly cost. In turn, you could budget the electric consumption better. You could also plan its usage more efficiently.
For new builders, the power supply (PSU) should not be skimped over as it is one component that could kill your PC. Knowing your components and how many watts they use is also essential, as buying an underpowered PSU could lead to system failure. On the other hand, going overboard would be a waste of money.
Another advantage of knowing how many watts your computer use is when you need to buy an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). Knowing that will help you make the best UPS purchase. Also, the total watts used serve as a reference for the electricity consumption of your computer.
Why you should buy a higher wattage PSU
Buying a slightly higher PSU has advantages over a PSU that barely exceeds the required wattage.
There will be no problems when it comes to overclocking. Not just manual overclocking, but it also applies to automatic performance boosts like the AMD Precision Boost Overdrive or Intel Turbo Boost.
Moreover, upgradability will not be an issue. The power supply can outlast your entire computer build. A reputable power supply model may be used five years from now. Your GPU may have failed by that time, but your PSU will still be usable.
However, there is no advantage to having an extremely overkill PSU from a price-to-performance standpoint.
A 50-100W overhead is more than enough for regular builds. Anything higher than that is just a waste of money unless you plan to upgrade soon.
Does a PSU with a high Wattage consume more electricity?
The answer is no. The power supply will only pull and convert the electricity it needs as requested by the computer.
For instance, your computer needs 550W of power, and you have a 1000W power supply. The power supply will only pull 550W, and that’s it.
But if you have a 550W power requirement and you only have a 400W power supply, then this is where the problem comes in.
Your computer might turn on and boot, but it will shut down once it realizes that it can only draw 400W instead of the 550W it needs.
Whether you are building a new PC or just want to check how many watts your PC is using, we hope this article helps you. Feel free to let us know if you have other questions that need to be answered.
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