Why Modular Power Supplies are a Terrible (and Obsolete) Idea

As with most people, I’ve traditionally bought the non-modular power supplies over modular for one reason: because they’re cheaper.

However, at this point in my life, I realize more and more of these “fancy” things can often come with their own drawbacks, cleverly hidden behind the guise of ‘newer is better’. Modular power supplies are no exception, and this article is all about why.

Do you really need it?

Even PC cases that were utter garbage back in 2010 tend to have cable management holes. Back then, nobody really cared as much about cable management as much as we do now. So, why are cables coming from the power supply a problem? You’re going to be hiding them anyway.

Furthermore, any good PC case made in the last several years has a power supply shroud, which hides the power supply and its whole mess of cables entirely. An ingenious idea! My first case with one of these was the NZXT H440, which I in early 2015 or so. With a power supply shroud, modular power supplies become unnecessary, and in my eyes, completely and totally obsolete.

But we’re not done yet!

Cable inconsistencies

Another reason why these power supplies are such a terrible idea is because their connectors that go into the actual power supply itself aren’t all the same. This means that not only do you have to scrutinize at the supply and the cables to see where to plug them into, but they aren’t the same across power supplies.

This is nothing short of a disaster. There are countless stories online of people who don’t realize this, and wind up frying their expensive hardware!

How is this a good design!? It’s all too common that someone gets a second-hand modular power supply that doesn’t have all the cables, and if they don’t know what they’re doing, they’re gonna be in for a hell of a time! Something critical like a power supply should not be using this type of thing.

It’s bad enough having different voltages and different tip sizes to no consistent degree for common electronic devices – hence, more and more are switching to USB. But unlike those, the infrastructure of computers and how they’re put together is controlled by lots of standardization. There’s no reason that a power supply should be so nonstandard!

The only excuse

Quite sadly, however, most power supplies are modular these days, particularly higher-end units. The reason is because the people who buy modular power supplies are suckers for it, thus they sell, thus the companies make more. Worse yet, higher-wattage ones tend to be modular-only. That’s too bad, but I’ll say that there becomes lesser and lesser of a need for high-wattage as we progress further: multi-GPU never really made that much sense, CPUs are becoming more efficient, and SSDs + RAM barely take any energy to start with – not to mention M.2. Even with HDDs, we have such big ones that there’s no need for four 1TB drives when you could use one 4TB drive, and pull way less energy and use less connections.

So basically, I can’t see any reason other than if you somehow need something like an 850W or over for an HEDT system, in which most (if not all) are only modular. Essentially, they’re forcing modular on us, and this is the only reason why it’s sometimes okay to buy a modular power supply.

P.S.: Real men desolder the wires from a non-modular power supply if they don’t want them on there anymore. (I’m obviously joking!)

Why Generic Electronics are Dangerous!

Generic electronics are best described as a plague, because they do nothing more than infest the marketplace with a terrible product, and to make matters even worse, tons of people buy them…and they’re in for one heck of a surprise.

Why, you might ask? Aren’t they just all the same?

They’re poorly made

Trust me, they’re not the same by any means. I, quite unfortunately, have had lots of experience with generic electronics, and I can safely say that they almost always fail in a relatively premature fashion in some way or another. If you’re lucky, they fail during the return window, but a lot of the time, they fail just outside of it. It’s completely backwards logic, as you’re hoping it’ll last you a long time! Trust me, it won’t.

If you’re a tweaker, and you decide to repair the generic electronic product yourself, then things get uglier, since not only are these items made extremely poorly, but even if you do manage to fix it, all you’re doing is delaying the inevitable…right outside of the return window.

They’re dangerous!

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

Depending on the kind of item it is, it can also be outright dangerous. Power supplies are the biggest, greatest example I can currently think of at the time of this writing. The reason why is because they’re in complete control of whatever you’re powering, thus they are very much responsible. They have an important job to do, and if they screw it up just a tad…you have a complete and total failure.

I long ago saw a generic laptop power supply ruin the motherboard of the laptop it was powering. The board wouldn’t have had to be replaced if the charger wasn’t el cheapo. Thus, was the charger purchase really saving any money?

Obviously not. Thus, they’re not even cheaper like they seem to be to begin with.

Never mind the generic soldering irons that literally pop open and fly away at any given moment. The danger levels are over nine thousand! self-descriptive.

They’re dodgy

There are lots of companies(?) that actually do nothing more than import Chinese generic electronic products, possibly slapping their brand name on it, and calling it their own item. Just because you find one made by “Zeny” and another by “Syba” doesn’t mean they’re actually different items. But who’s to say they aren’t different items? There really isn’t an easy way to tell, other than looking at the pictures. Even the pictures themselves aren’t that reliable, though, because you won’t know what you’re getting until it arrives!

Never mind the fact those two brand names, like many others, are four letters long…just like some words you might say when trying to use (or worse, repair) the items sold under their names!

Thus, they’re expensive

Seriously, it doesn’t matter if it costs $5 less, because it actually doesn’t cost $5 less, it actually costs probably tens, if not hundreds, if not thousands more, depending on what kind of item it is. If it’s a power supply, think about it: if it failed, caught on fire, and burnt your house down, would that be cheaper? Not really!

Plus, if you repaired it, that was time and possibly parts you had to invest into it. “Time is money.”

Solution, much?

The solution here is avoiding the plague of generic electronics, you know, like you’d do with any other plague!

  • Limit your online shopping searches to filter out China (sorry, guys).
  • Take any listing with “for” in the title with extreme care.
  • Look for real company brand names, particularly on the item itself in the picture.
  • Find a model number, and look it up to find information on it and its maker.

Not every protective measure here is possible, but when possible, it’s important to follow them. If you find you can’t follow one of these measures or more, take extreme caution and only buy from a seller with great reputation and a good return policy.

Also remember that two five-star reviews, even if it’s 100% five-star feedback, just isn’t enough reassurance. Given the fact that they haven’t experienced a failure yet, as well as the fact that two reviews means it’s probably a very new and/or unpopular item, means that there’s less information to go by. Proceed with caution.

The bottom line is, quality is what matters most – not saving five bucks.