How long do power supplies last? The answer to that question depends on the brand and power rating of the power supply. How long a power supply will last also depends on how much more it needs to provide and how well its taken care of.

Generally speaking, a computer power supply will last 5 to 10 years, which is usually longer than the PC it’s powering. The life, however, can be drastically lowered to anywhere between 1 to 3 years, if the power supply has poor ventilation or gets clogged with dust for long periods of time. To get the most out of your power supply and to make it last the longest, make sure to keep it clean and never run it at more than 80 percent of its rated capacity. 

In this article, we will go over the major components of a computer power supply. We will also explain why some power supplies last a lot longer than others, and we will tell you a few things you can do to extend the life of your power supply. 

What is Inside A Computer Power Supply? 

Just like everything else, a computer power supply is made up of several individual components. Computers don’t run on just one voltage. In fact, computers require several DC voltages to run. For this reason, computer power supplies are really several power supplies grouped into one. 

A computer power supply has at least one 12V output, a 5V output, and a 3.3V output. There is a technical requirement for a -12V output, but this is only required if you are using one of those old COM ports still.

Most low cost power supplies do not have the -12 volt rail because most computers these days dont even have those old COM ports that require negative 12 volts to work.

Bigger, Heavier Power Supplies Last Longer

When it comes to power supplies, the heavier the better. This is because cheaper, lower-quality power supplies don’t use heatsinks. So, if a power supply is very light, its because the company that made the power supply is saving money by not including heatsinks.

Massive heat sinks are required to wick away the heat from the voltage regulating components that are required for a computer power supply to work.

Low cost power supplies don’t rely on a fan alone to remove heat from the voltage regulating components. This will work up to a point, but after a while the power supply will overheat. Once this happens, system voltages become unstable, which could lead to hardware failure of your motherboard, graphics card, or even CPU. 

Unreliable power supplies are the number one cause of computer stability issues. So, if you want to avoid down time and other computer problems, you should get a high quality power supply. 

Power SupplyPrice WattageRecommended LoadHow Long It LastsNew Lifespan
Thermaltake GF1$109.99850W500W712
Cooler Master MWE 850$107.67850W500W712
EVGA SuperNOVA$129850W500W1016

If you run a power supply at a substantially lower current than what it can support at maximum, you will drastically increase the life of the power supply. 

Who Makes The Best Computer Power Supplies?

Thermaltake, OCZ and EVGA make the best PC power supplies. Below is a list of some of the best, longest lasting power supplies that we know of. 

Thermaltake Toughpower GF1 850W

Thermaltake power supplies are known to be long lasting and are actually capable of providing their rated wattages. This is because Thermaltake power supplies are built with high quality parts all the way down to the component level.

The resistors, capacitors, inductors, and even printed circuit boards inside a Thermaltake power supply are all going to be completely top notch, high grade components.

So, as long as you keep it clean and make sure dust does not build up inside, a Thermaltake power supply will last 10 years or more. 

The Thermaltake GF1 can deliver up to 90% efficiency, and is optimized to work with all generations of Intel’s processors. This power supply features an ultra quiet 140mm fans that feature hydraulic bearings.

The fan in this power supply only runs when the load is at 30 percent or higher. There is, however, a switch on the back that can put the fan in full time mode.  Unlike a lot of cheap power supplies that use 18 gauge wire, the Thermaltake GF1 uses  16 gauge wires for higher current carrying capacity.

One of the best things about Thermaltake power supplies is the fact that they feature high quality Japanese capacitors that are rated for temperatures as high as 221°F (105°C). This makes Thermaltake power supplies extremely stable, durable, and reliable.

Cooler Master MWE Gold 850 V2 850W

Cooler Master is just as well-known as Thermaltake in terms of performance and quality. This makes sense because like Thermaltake, Cooler Master started out making PC cases that required power supplies made by other companies.

Like Thermaltake, after a few years of being in operation, CoolerMaster branched out from cases and started making power supplies. Cooler Master power supplies are known to be robust and reliable.

The Cooler Master MWE Gold 850 is no exception in that regard. This power supply features 2 modular EPS connectors for universal motherboard compatibility. MWE Gold 850 features some of the best temperature resilience, able to operate at up to 50 degrees Celsius.

Cool Master uses a patented Hydro Dynamic 120mm fan that creates less friction than other power supply fans. The results in lower new levels and smoother low RPM performance.

EVGA SuperNOVA 850W

EVGA may be better known for making video cards, but they make fantastic power supplies as well. In general, if a company makes a good graphics card, they are going to have the engineering expertise required to make a great power supply.

That is because for the last 20 years or so, video cards have been requiring more and more power to operate. In fact, it got to the point to where video cards had to have their own dedicated connections to the computer power supply.

So, it only made sense for EVGA to get into the power supply business.

The EVGA SuperNOVA 850 can provide full power all the way up to 47 degrees C. It features an excellent build quality and extremely stable 12 volt regulation. The SuperNova 850 is one of the most efficient power supplies on the market, and it also features long hold-times and low inrush currents.

Under normal conditions, this power supply is really quiet, and the fact that it is fully modular is a huge plus for cable management and air flow. One of the most stunning things about this power supply is its staggeringly long 10-year warranty period.

If a company is going to have that kind of confidence in their product, then you know it has to be extremely well engineered and manufactured. Like the Thermaltake GF1, this power supply uses 100% Japanese capacitors, and it also features a specially designed resonant circuit that improve 3.3 volt and 5V stability.

How Long Does A Power Supply Last?

Any decent power supply that is properly taken care of will last 7 to 10 years. It’s important, however, to remember that a low quality power supply will fail no sooner than a high-quality power supply that is neglected. 

So, if you want to make sure your power supply lasts as long as possible, keep it dust free and make sure you get a power supply from a well-known manufacturer that doesn’t skimp out on heatsinks.

How Can I Extend The Life Of My Power Supply?

You can make any power supply last longer by adding a fan. Simply mounting a fan so it blows into your power supply can increase its lifespan by a year or more. This is because power supplies are designed down to a minimum. All of the components in a power supply, including the fan, are built down to the lowest possible cost.

So, if you add a few dollars to the cost of your power supply by adding a dan, you can drastically increase its lifespan.

NOTE: If you are going to add a second fan to your power supply, its important that you mount the fan so that it is not fighting the air flow of the fan that is already installed in the power supply.

What Affects The Longevity Of A Power Supply?

As long as a power supply is not chronically dusty and constantly overheated, it will be able to maintain stable operating voltages throughout its entire lifespan. If your power supply, however, was very dusty for a long period of time, chances are it has been running in an overheated state and even if it works, it still needs to be replaced.

How Long Do Capacitors Last In A Power Supply?

Most of the time, when a computer power supply fails it’s because its capacitors are starting to fail. Electrolytics capacitors are sensitive to heat. So, if you let your power supply get dusty, heat will build up in places that it’s not supposed to. 

When this happens, it will cause the capacitors inside your computer power supply to fail prematurely. Long before a capacitor totally fails, it will perform poorly. When this condition occurs, the voltages that your power supply produces will be mostly close to what they are supposed to be, but not quite.

In this situation, voltages will be somewhat shaky and unstable. Normally when a PC power supply is in this condition, its voltages will drastically drop when the power supply is put under heavy load. This will cause the PC to work fine until a prolonged gaming or Netflix session.

How Long Do Resistors Last In A Power Supply?

Resistors are another component inside a computer power supply that will experience a value change as it gets exposed to heat. A resistor’s actual value will gradually rise compared to its rated value as it gets hotter. As it cools, this value returns almost back to where it was, but not quite.

As this happens over many cycles, a resistor’s value can ‘drift’. Eventually, if your power supply resistors drift too much, you will have to replace it.

The cooling fans inside a power supply will generally last the entire life of the power supply. In fact, as long as it’s not constantly clogged with dust, the cooling fan in a computer power supply will outlast the power supply itself. 

If the fan is covered in dust all the time, however, this will cause a lot of heat to build up in the fan motor’s windings. This will cause the windings to increase in resistance, which will require more power to turn the fan motor. 

Over time, this condition will gradually destroy a power supply cooling fan. If that happens, the power supply itself could overheat.

How To Determine Power Supply Failure?

If you know what to look out for, there are some tale-tale indications that can clue you in on an impending power supply failure. For example, if you notice strange high frequency noises coming from the back of your computer, that could be a sign that your power supply is going to fail soon.

If your computer is already not working, however, and you are trying to determine if the power supply is the problem or not, there are some other things that you can look out for. 

If your computer powers up, but only for a few seconds before cutting off on its own, then you more than likely have a bad power supply. Also, if the computer is running fine for a while, and then suddenly shuts off when you open a game or a YouTube video, then it’s more than likely a bad power supply.

How To Choose A Power Supply?

When it comes to picking the right size computer power supply, there are a few things you need to know. First of all, the CPU and the GPU are going to use the most energy by far. So, that makes them the most important items to account for when it comes to your power budget. 

CPUs and GPUs are rated using many metrics, one of which is their TDP or Total Dissipated Power. A chip’s TDP is the maximum amount of power that it can use at any given point. 

A popular graphics processor, the nVidia GeForce 1080Ti, has a TDP of 250 watts. A popular CPU to combine with that graphics card is the AMD Ryzen 5900X, which has a TDP of 105 watts. In this example, the graphics card and the CPU together come to about 350 watts of power. 

After that, you have to consider other components on the motherboard like the network, sound, and storage controllers, that use about 10 watts all together. System RAM uses 5 to 10 watts as well, and things like Bluray drives and SSDs use another 5 to 10 watts. 

All in all, this example system can use around  400 watts. A good rule of thumb is to budget in another 25% overhead. So, for a system like the one just described, it would be best to get a 500 watt power supply. 

How To Increase The Longevity Of A Power Supply?

To get the most life out of your power supply, stress it as little as possible. So, if you calculate all your TDP figures and come to the conclusion that you need a 500 watt power supply, getting a 1000 watt power supply would ensure that you never go over 50% of your power supply’s total load capability.

The less load you put on a power supply, the cooler it will run. Remember, heat is the enemy of electronics. So, the less heat an electronic device is subjected to, the longer it will last.

Conclusion

How long do power supplies last? Now that you are more familiar with power supplies, it should be easier to answer that question.  The most important thing is to keep your power supply clean and not overload it.

As long as you take care of your power supply, it will last a long time. In most cases, the average computer power supply will last 5 to 10 years. If the computer is located in a really hot or dusty environment, the power supply’s life is reduced. In these cases, expect a power supply to last 1 to 3 years. To get the most out of your power supply, make sure to keep it clean. Also, make sure to not run your power supply at high loads for long periods of time. 

We hope this article helped your learn more about power supplies and how long they will last. Thanks for reading!