One of the most neglected, but very important, computer component is the power supply unit, or PSU. Oftentimes, buyers would just purchase a high-wattage PSU regardless of brand and quality. Another important aspect of PSUs is cable management. Having a clean-looking computer chassis isn’t just for looks. It’s usually for better air flow inside the case. With lots and lots of cables, especially coming from the power supply, things can get messy and inefficient.
This is where modular and non-modular power supplies come into play. Most people would consider modular power supplies, and for good reason. The main difference between modular and non-modular PSUs is cable management.
Non-modular power supplies have all the power cables installed into the unit. Thus, you have a clutter of cables for the motherboard power, CPU, video card, drives and for other components. In most cases, you will not need some of those cables, and thus, it’ll be left hanging around or tucked in somewhere inside the case.
Modular power supplies, however, doesn’t have all the cables attached to it permanently. You can choose which cables you want to use. The cables connect individually into the ports on the power supply. For example, if you only have one hard drive, there’s no need to plug the extra SATA power connector in.
As I said at the beginning, air flow is really important in a PC setup, especially if you have higher-end components that could potentially generate a lot of heat. An efficient air flow lowers the temperature of the components inside the computer. This will ultimately improve the life span of the parts. The components will not be stressed with the extra heat it suffers from.
Therefore, modular power supplies make it a lot easier to set up your computer in a way that the cables will not block the air flow inside the case. If you complement that with a chassis that has a good cable management system, not only will your setup look neat and clean, it will allow better air flow inside the chassis.
If you are, however, left with a non-modular power supply, it takes a lot of work to try and tuck the cables as far inside the chassis. There’s a good chance that cables will get tangled, which is mostly the case with the cables for SATA and 4-pin power connectors. You could try and use cables ties to somehow make it easier to set the cables, especially when they’re not sleeved. This is a huge problem especially when you have a generic or low-end computer case or chassis.
I have an 80Plus Gold PSU, but it’s not modular. I do have a huge mid-tower case, but still, it took me more than an hour just figuring out the best possible way to keep the cables out of the way in order to have better air flow inside my PC’s chassis.
There are semi-modular power supplies as well. These PSUs usually have the power cables permanently connected, or basically the cables that are needed by almost all of the computers such as the CPU/motherboard power connector. Other cables are optional such as the SATAs, extra 6/8-pin graphics power connectors, extra fan connectors and 4-pin power connectors.
With that said, modular power supplies are much more expensive than non-modular PSUs, first and foremost because it’s most likely more expensive to manufacture. It’s usually much easier for manufacturers to just put in all of the cables than to have them design a power supply with different ports for different cables. If you have extra money to buy a modular power supply, I would suggest you buy that instead of a non-modular one. Whether you’re just a casual PC user, a gamer, an enthusiast or a professional, it is imperative that your components are running as cool and as efficient as it can be. A good cable setup alone can make a difference.