The beauty of being a PC enthusiast is that you’re not constricted by any particular form factor, manufacturer, chipset, with the whole industry operating under de facto formats. The ATX form factor for power supplies, motherboards, and PC cases has stirred up competition between hardware manufacturers since the late 1990s and has made PC building much more accessible to your average consumer. Prior to the implementation of ATX, which was done by Intel in 1995, form factors were mainly proprietary to each company, riddling the PC market with incompatible parts, unfair pricing models, and a lot of confusion cast towards your average consumer.
Since then, the PC enthusiast market has come a long way. A lot of people compare it to lego blocks for adults. While the ATX format is probably one of the main reasons why PC building is so accessible in 2019, other formats still do exist, and that’s one of the beauties of building your own station. The SFX format is just a derivation from the ATX standard. For all intents and purposes, it functions in the same way and comes with all of the same connectors. You still get the same architecture, the same 24-pin ATX connector, the same outputs, the only difference being its size. SFX power supplies will fit in cases that are closer to PC modding than PC building.
Building in a custom case will likely require you to shop for an SFX power supply since smaller cases oftentimes don’t fit a full ATX power supply. For this reason, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 best SFX power supplies that you can purchase in late 2019 and early 2020.
Before going into our picks, it’s important that you know some basics when it comes to picking your future power supply. Ratings and 80+ certification can be a little bit confusing for the PC building newbie, so we’ve attached a graph that can help clarify these seemingly random values, giving you a better idea of how PSUs work.
A power supply is basically an AC adaptor. It converts alternating current to direct current. For reasons of efficiency and safety, you should go for 80+ certified. This guarantees that at the 20, 50, and 100% loads, your power supply will deliver at least 80% efficiency when converting. The remaining 20% will dissipate as heat. The Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Titanium ratings help further distinguish power supplies based on efficiency. More efficiency means lesser power draw and cooler temperatures.
Picking the right PSU for your system is really, really easy. Pick one that’s rated to deliver around 20% more wattage than your parts consume, make sure it’s from a reputable manufacturer, and pick as high of a rating as your pocket allows you to. The ratings don’t affect build quality whatsoever, so picking any 80+ rated PSU from a reputable manufacturer is sure to deliver good build quality and solid power delivery.
Our 5 Best SFX Power Supply in 2021
Very attractive package
Powerful enough to run any single-GPU build
Seasonic always gets stellar endorsements from industry influencers. Sponsoring major esports organizations, streamers, and tech-related content, you can always rely on the quality and resilience of their products. The Seasonic Focus SGX-650 is an SFX-L power supply, with a lot of technologies that allow it to be one of the best choices for your future compact build.
Instead of going with a double-bearing fan as is the industry standard, the Focus SGX-650 rocks a fluid dynamic fan bearing, making it as silent as possible even when running higher loads.
Runs cool and silent
No cable sleeves
Corsair is known in the industry for being top-tier PC part manufacturers. From RAM modules to enthusiast-level PC cases, Corsair outputs quality products across the board. Rated for 600 watts, the Corsair SF600 is a great choice for a small form-factor powerhouse. Rated 80+ Platinum, you’re going to be running cool and silent. The fanless mode helps you keep your compact PC as silent as possible, with a pre-designed fan curve.
In terms of features, it’s pretty standard. You get a fully-modular power supply, with all of the perks that come with such a piece of hardware. The sleeved cables come detached, allowing you to achieve optimal cable-management much easier. Make sure you store the extras in a safe place since you might need them for future upgrades.
Not suited for more power-hungry builds
The Thermaltake Toughpower SFX 450W is a sensible choice for smaller builds, 450W being a great choice if you aren’t planning on equipping your future PC with power-hungry components. Thermaltake have a great track record in producing reliable and efficient power supplies and cooling solutions.
The Toughpower SFX 450-watt PSU is a gold-rated SFX power supply, great for any smaller, compact build. More value-oriented than the bigger power supplies on the list, the Toughpower SFX 450 brings reliability and efficiency to your day-to-day, classic PC build.
Cables aren’t sleeved
Since we looked at the big industry names, let’s take a look at FPS, an alternative brand that provides customers with stellar power supplies that are meant to go into highly-customizable builds. The Mini ITX standard is even smaller than the SFX standard, and the FPS Dagger 600W can really make a small build shine.
With 80+ Gold certification, you’re guaranteed to save money in the long run while keeping your compact build as cool as possible, since a lot of heat gets dissipated when converting AC to DC. The 80mm fan is big enough to ensure silent operation, and the surge protection is an added insurance that your build will survive a power outage or surge.
Things To Consider
Five PSUs, one choice. I’ll have to give the Seasonic Focus SGX-650 the cake, but only because of the care put by Seasonic into their packaging and the slightly better fan. Every PSU on the list was good. Grab one that’s within your budget and you’re going to be on your way to building a highly-compact, highly-performant system.