How to Install a Desktop Power Supply

Swapping power supplies is straightfoward on desktop machines

Close up of power supply being unplugged/plugged in to opened desktop computer

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A power supply unit (PSU) converts the power from an electrical outlet into usable energy for a computer and its components. As the PSU supplies power and regulates overheating by controlling voltage, it is a crucial piece of hardware for any computer setup.

In this guide, we show you how to install a basic computer power supply.

Many name-brand manufacturer PCs use specially designed power supplies that have been built specifically for their systems. As a result, it is generally not possible to buy a replacement power supply and install it into these systems. If your power supply is having problems, contact the manufacturer for repairs or a replacement.

How to Install a Power Supply

Follow these steps to set up and install a basic power supply unit.

Integrated PSUs—such as those in laptops and tablets—generally are not end-user replaceable. Take your laptop to a certified repair facility to replace a damaged PSU.

  1. Open the case. The method for opening the case varies depending on its design. Most new cases use either a panel or door while older systems require the whole cover to be removed. Remove any screws fastening the cover to the case and set them aside.

    All power supplies contain various capacitors that retain power even after the power supply is turned off. Never open up or insert any metal objects into the vents of the power supply, as you risk electrical shock.

  2. Align the PSU into the case so that the four mounting holes align properly. Verify that any air-intake fan on the power supply faces toward the center of the case and not towards the case cover.

  3. Fasten the power supply. Be sure to hold the PSU in position while you screw it into the case.

  4. Set the voltage switch. Verify that the voltage switch on the back of the power supply is set to the proper voltage level for your country. North America and Japan use 110/115v, while Europe and many other ​countries use 220/230v.

  5. Plug the power supply into the motherboard. If the computer already has the motherboard installed into it, connect the power leads to the motherboard. Most modern motherboards use the large ATX power connector that is plugged into the socket on the motherboard. Some motherboards require an additional amount of power through a four-pin ATX12V connector.

  6. Connect power to the devices. Many items within a computer case require power from the power supply. Typically these devices use the four-pin molex style connector. Locate the appropriately sized power leads and plug them into any devices that require power.

  7. Replace the computer cover or return the panel to the case. Fasten the cover or panel with the screws that were previously removed to open the case.

  8. Plug in the power and turn on the system. Plug in the power supply AC cord and turn the switch on the power supply to the ON position. The computer system should have available power and can be powered on.