Building a computer requires consumers to know which product fits best. After all, compatibility is an important issue when buying components for your new PC. Of course, a sufficient power supply is equally important as the best graphics card you can fit with your budget. Nonetheless, many consumers try to build PCs that consume less power. So, what is the gaming PC power usage in reality?
Also, while you’re here, make sure to read our guide on how much it costs to ship a PC.
- A PC’s main power consumption stems from the graphics card and processor, so create a build centered around products with better TDP.
- In most cases, an AMD build consumes lower power than an Intel build.
- Generally, buying a stronger power supply than required will pave the way for future builds.
- For mid-range and high-end builds, buying 80+ ranking power supplies is important for greater performance.
Wattage Intensive Components
Before we look at the gaming PC power usage, we must discuss components that require more wattage. So far, the two components that require the most wattage are the CPU and the GPU. Thus, when building a computer that uses less power, you must look at the power requirements for both components. Also, make sure to read about how long gaming PCs last.
Graphics Card Power Requirements
Of course, when we look at the power usage of a PC, the graphics card consumes the most. However, certain graphics cards have lower power requirements than others. So, when building a PC, knowing the required Thermal Design Power (TDP) of a graphics card is imminent.
For example, analyzing mid-range graphics cards, we have the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 and the AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT. While there is a small difference in the performance of both GPUs, their power requirements are similar. To clarify, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 requires at least 170W, with a recommended 350W power supply. On the other hand, the AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT requires at least 160W, with a recommended 350W power supply.
Furthermore, looking at high-end options, we have the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 and the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090. Although, only a few consumers are willing to buy the RTX 4090 due to its price and immense power requirements. In conclusion, a graphics card usually requires over 300W power, up to 1000W.
Processor Power Requirements
Moving to the second component that requires the most power, we have processors. While processors generally don’t require as much power as GPUs, their requirements might not be easy to handle. For that reason, we must look at a few processors from different price segments to find their power requirements.
Firstly, analyzing the mid-range market, we have the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 and the Intel Core i5-11600K. Consequently, the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 has an expected TDP of 65W. However, using a 400W power supply is recommended. Subsequently, the Intel Core i5-11600K has a TDP of 125W. Therefore, using a 500W power supply or higher is recommended with the 11600K.
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Secondly, moving towards the higher-end market, the AMD Ryzen 9 7900X and the Intel Core i9-13900K dominate the market. Notwithstanding, the AMD Ryzen 9 7900X has a TDP of 170W. On the other hand, the Intel Core i9-13900K has a TDP of 125-253W. So, to properly utilize both processors, consumers need at least a 700W power supply.
Lastly, a processor may require 300W to 800W power to run efficiently. Although, if you plan to overclock your components, you will need even more power.
Low-End Gaming PC Power Usage
After looking at the power-intensive components, let’s glance at different range gaming PCs and their power requirements. Because not all gamers can afford high-end PCs, it’s important to look at different categories from Intel and AMD to determine which is more power efficient. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the power requirements of low-end gaming PCs.
Low-End Intel Gaming PC
While looking at the following image, we see a fairly low-end build, considering the currently available hardware. Because we’re looking at an Intel-oriented build, we are using an NVIDIA graphics card.
Be that as it may, for the processor, we are going with the fairly durable Intel Core i3-6300. Also, the processor has a TDP ranking of 51W. So, you don’t have to worry about extreme power consumption either. Furthermore, the Intel Core i3-6300 showcases outstanding performance, even though it has gotten old.
Of course, to complement the Intel Core i3-6300, we have the Asus H110M motherboard. But because we’re looking at a low-end build, we couldn’t choose a better motherboard suited for the processor.
Looking at the graphics card, we’re going with the NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti. By all means, the NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti is an old GPU. However, it is sufficient to run most triple-A title games at low settings to this day. So, if budget is a problem, the NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti is a great GPU. In any case, the NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti has a TDP of 75W.
With all the other components within the PC, we have an estimated wattage of ~221W. So, buying a 400W or greater power supply should be the ideal choice. In the long run, owning a higher-wattage PSU will be more beneficial. Because power supplies usually have a longer lifetime, they outlive multiple builds.
In conclusion, if going with an Intel build with a lower budget, buying an Intel Core i3-6300 with an NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti is a great option. Additionally, you can increase the amount of RAM if needed. At length, the entire build will require anywhere between 200-250W power.
Low-End AMD Gaming PC
After looking at the Intel build, we must also look at an AMD equivalent. While we see a better processor, the GPU is lacking in performance. However, even with the AMD Radeon RX 550, consumers can get along with most of their gaming requirements.
Firstly, glancing towards the AMD Ryzen 5 1600, it’s a great processor with amazing performance capabilities. Also, the AMD Ryzen 5 1600 barely requires a 65W TDP.
Therefore, the performance stands even if its TDP requirements are slightly higher than the Intel Core i3 6300’s. Of course, according to today’s standards, the Ryzen 5 1600 has gotten old but provides adequate performance at lower prices.
Secondly, moving toward the graphics card, we’re going with the AMD Radeon RX 550. Although a redundant graphics card today, AMD fans will enjoy its performance in their low-budget builds.
Furthermore, the AMD Radeon RX 550 has a TDP requirement of barely 65W. But, it’s important to note that the AMD Radeon RX 550 holds no candles against the NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti. So, if performance is an issue, you might want to go with the latter.
In any case, the lower-end gaming PC power usage for an all-AMD build is around 227W. For that reason, going with a 400-450W power supply should be sufficient. Nonetheless, buying a higher-wattage PSU will help for future builds, as power supplies tend to outlive several builds.
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Lastly, an AMD Ryzen 5 1600 and an AMD Radeon RX 550 build, while lacking in performance, are amazing. On the other hand, you can mix and match AMD and NVIDIA products for better results. So, an AMD processor and NVIDIA GPU could potentially be more useful.
Mid-Range Gaming PC Power Usage
Moving towards the more expensive ranges, let’s talk about mid-range gaming PCs and how much power they require. On average, a mid-range gaming PC might require anywhere from 500W to 700W of power. However, let’s take it into greater detail with Intel and AMD builds!
Mid-Range Intel Gaming PC
Starting with an Intel build for a mid-range gaming PC, we have multiple options once the price bracket increases. For example, you can go with 13th gen Intel processors or a better RTX graphics card. However, because our main standpoint is to be power efficient, we are using the Intel Core i5-12600K and the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 GPU.
By and large, looking at the processor, we’re using the Intel Core i5-12600K. Because of its low price and amazing performance, the i5 12600K offers superb value. Additionally, the Intel Core i5-12600K has a 125W TDP requirement.
So, you don’t need to worry about power consumption with such a build. Also, the Intel Core i5-12600K is future-proof, meaning it won’t become extremely slow for at least a few more years.
Subsequently, looking into the graphics card, we have multiple options from NVIDIA. Depending on the budget, you can use a lower-end GTX series card or move towards the 20-series RTX cards. Although, for the sake of the article, we’re using an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 GPU. Not only does the RTX 3060 offer an amazing performance per dollar ratio, but it only has a 170W TDP.
Consequently, the mid-range Intel build has an estimated wattage requirement of 444W. For that reason, a 600W power supply will prove to be useful. However, you can opt for a higher-wattage power supply to help support your future builds.
In conclusion, while the mid-range Intel build has an almost double wattage requirement than the low-end build, components of the build can always be changed to cater to your budget. Thus, depending on your choice, you can lower gaming PC power usage and the build cost.
Mid-Range AMD Gaming PC
Moving toward the AMD build, we see a significantly lower power requirement while getting similar to better performance. Moreover, with the multiple processors and graphics cards available in the mid-range, it becomes complicated to choose. However, we’re using the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X processor and the AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT GPU to save power.
Firstly, talking about the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X, one of the latest mid-range processors from AMD. While it is a generation old, the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X is an amazing option if you consider upgrading. Furthermore, the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X requires a meager 65W power. Thus, you can save a lot of power with the AMD processor rather than opting for the Intel counterpart.
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Secondly, looking at the graphics card, we’re using the AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT. Because of multiple options, going with one of the newer GPUs that require low power is a wise choice. Although, you can go with other options, such as the RX 580, RX 5700 XT, or even the RX 6600. Nonetheless, the AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT has a recommended power requirement of 160W. So, you’re not spending many wattages while getting the most performance out of your components.
Be that as it may, the mid-range AMD build has an estimated power consumption of ~349W. Thus, a 600W power supply can run the PC without any problems. Of course, you could buy a higher-wattage PSU for the future or if you wish to overclock.
Lastly, you can mix and match Intel and AMD products to get a build of your liking. But for the most part, you need 600-700W power to run a mid-range gaming PC.
High-End Gaming PC Power Usage
Finally, it’s time we look at the most overkill computers a consumer can buy. With overkill PCs, you need overkill power supplies to run them properly. Thus, let’s dive deeper into the topic. However, on average, a high-end gaming PC usually requires anywhere between 1,200 to 1,500W power. Keep in mind that high-end gaming PCs cost a lot. And these days, PC parts are more expensive than ever before.
High-End Intel Gaming PC
After going through the low and mid-range PCs, let’s glance toward the high-end market. While multiple options are available in this segment, we have gone with the strongest possible components. For example, not only are we using an Intel Core i9-13900K, but we’re also using an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090. Also, we have opted for an All-in-One Cooler for better cooling.
Subsequently, looking at the processor, we have the Intel i9-13900K. Intel’s flagship processor, only AMD’s Ryzen 7900X, is on par with this beast. However, with great performance, you are charged with greater power requirements. Thus, we see a TDP of 125-253W for the Intel Core i9-13900K.
Additionally, analyzing the graphics card, there are multiple options for the GPU you want to buy. For instance, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080, RTX 3090, RTX 3090 Ti, and RTX 4080 are great options. Although, we’re using an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 for the high-end build. Furthermore, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 has an estimated power usage of ~450W-600W. Although, the GPU is infamous for consuming over 800 watts of power at once.
In any case, through all the other components combined, a high-end Intel build has an estimated wattage requirement of ~871W. Therefore, going with a 1,200W power supply or higher is ideal. But if you plan on overclocking any of your components, we recommend going with a 1,500W PSU or greater. Furthermore, keep in mind that overclocking can damage the GPU and other components if not done correctly. It can also lead to an increase in temperatures, so make sure you learn about how to lower GPU and CPU temperatures.
In conclusion, there are other high-end components consumers can buy. On the contrary, buying an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 is a better deal than buying the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4080. Also, in place of an Intel Core i9-13900K, consumers can go with the Intel Core i7-13700K or even the Intel Core i9-12900K. You can also check out our Intel Core i9-13900K vs Intel Core i9-12900K guide.
High-End AMD Gaming PC
We have an all-AMD high-end PC showcasing the Ryzen 9 7900X and the RX 6900 XT for the last build. While a few options are available in the high-end spectrum, we’re using the flagship products available for AMD.
Firstly, talking about the processor, we have the AMD Ryzen 9 7900X — the company’s flagship processor. However, other options, such as the Ryzen 7 5800X3D Vs the Ryzen 7 7700X, are also present. Furthermore, the AMD Ryzen 9 7900X has a TDP of 170W. Thus, you don’t have to worry about intensive power consumption requirements.
Secondly, glancing towards the graphics card, we’re using the AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT. In contrast with the processors, few AMD GPU segment options exist. For that reason, the only other high-end AMD option, for now, is the AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT. In any case, the AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT has a company TDP of 300W. So, the wattage requirements don’t increase drastically, unlike the Intel build.
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To that end, looking at the overall power requirements of the build, the high-end AMD build requires ~610W. Therefore, opting for a 1000W to 1200W power supply should be sufficient. Also, you can get most of your overclocking needs met within the same wattage power supply.
Lastly, to create a better build for efficient gaming PC power usage, you can mix AMD, Intel, or NVIDIA products per your requirements. Not only that, but you can also wait for AMD to release their latest Radeon RX 7000 series GPUs. Although, we can’t be sure of their performance and real-time wattage requirements until the official release.
Effects Of Insufficient Power To A PC
Now that we have discussed the overall gaming PC power usage, let’s discuss what happens when you are not providing enough power to the components. When the power supply unit of your computer is not sufficient to meet its power requirements, you’ll notice the problems associated with not having enough power for your PC components.
If you find yourself in this situation without a way to upgrade your power supply, here are the things that you can expect to happen as well as the best course of action you can take:
If your PSU is already running on its last breath, make it an absolute priority to make the next upgrade in your system your power supply. If you upgrade any other component before upgrading the power supply, you might destroy the components you have as well as the ones you buy. Components frying out because of a faulty power supply is way more common than you’d expect.
Revert Any Overclocking
Overclocking is the process of allowing some component of your system to have a little more power than what might be intended for it, to get a little more power in return. As explained, this process puts more strain on your power supply by making it give extra power to components that might get by with much less.
If your power supply is failing then the best course of action is to revert any overclocking you might have done to your system, no matter how small.
If your system crashes whenever you use a little more power than expected, then it is safe to say that your power supply does not recommend the needed TDP of your system. You can expect your GPU to crash as well.
When your system is on the cusp of not getting sufficient power, it can crash whenever there is a little more activity within your PC than usual. The list of things that can cause crashes like these when your system is under-powered includes but is not limited to:
- Inserting a thumb drive.
- Opening your optical drive.
- Performing heavy workloads like gaming or productivity.
- Loading medium to large-sized files, especially on hard drives.
- Making your fans ramp up in any sort of way.
If the crashes and failures on your system keep up for a long time, it is imminent that you will experience power supply failure shortly after too.
Constant low power to your components can mess up their working and cause a short circuit, frying your whole computer.
If you ever feel like your PC components are burning up or if you see or smell smoke from your computer, immediately pull the plug of your computer from the wall socket and put out any fires if necessary.
After that, test your components one by one either on a test bench yourself, or take them to a technician. Salvage what you can from your PC and make sure to never leave your computer with insufficient power for any sustainable amount of time again.
In conclusion, low-end builds require anywhere between 300-400W of power. On the other hand, mid-range builds require an average of 500-600W of power. Consequently, high-end builds require 1,200-1,500W of power. So, on average, if you mix and match components from all builds, the overall gaming PC power usage between 400-700W of power.
Of course, building a computer can be a tricky task at times, especially when you have certain constraints. Therefore, trial and error is the best option to create the perfect build. In any case, when creating builds catering toward power consumption, we must look at the processor and GPU. Also, if you are planning to get a PSU for your PC, make sure to check out our guide on Single-Rail vs Multi-Rail PSU. Furthermore, giving our EVGA vs Corsair PSU guide will also help you out greatly.
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Ali Rashid Khan is an avid gamer, hardware enthusiast, photographer, and devoted litterateur with a period of experience spanning more than 14 years. Sporting a specialization with regards to the latest tech in flagship phones, gaming laptops, and top-of-the-line PCs, Ali is known for consistently presenting the most detailed objective perspective on all types of gaming products, ranging from the Best Motherboards, CPU Coolers, RAM kits, GPUs, and PSUs amongst numerous other peripherals. When he’s not busy writing, you’ll find Ali meddling with mechanical keyboards, indulging in vehicular racing, or professionally competing worldwide with fellow mind-sport athletes in Scrabble at an international level. Currently speaking, Ali has completed his A-Level GCEs with plans to go into either Allopathic Medicine or Business Studies, or who knows, perhaps a full-time dedicated technological journalist.