Space is a virtue when building a PC, especially when working with smaller form factors, and not having all the room you need to build could mean life or death for your gaming rig.
From experience, building in a small form factor case or in a case lacking proper area to move can be detrimental to comfort when building your computer.
And depending on the quality of your case, you could come out with a lot more damage than you bargained for.
To answer the question in short:
You don’t necessarily need a modular power supply, but it sure does help, especially in smaller cases.
If you have the extra money, it’s pretty much always worth it to go modular versus non-modular.
Modular Power Supply Meaning
Modular power supplies are what we like to call a godsend.
If you want enough room to build comfortably and also have a noticeably cleaner look to your build, modular power supplies are the only option.
A modular power supply does not come with any connected cables out of the box, but it comes with a lot of cables separately.
The best part of a modular power supply is that you use only the cables that you need for your rig because of its detachable cable structure. No more mess, no more stress.
The goal of a modular power supply is to keep all those extra cables that you don’t use out of the way for a number of beneficial reasons, mainly to make the building process easier.
When you don’t have any unused cables hanging out, your build process is better, the overall look of your build is better, and even your airflow will improve with less clutter in the way
Modular Power Supply vs Regular Power Supply: What’s the Difference?
Non-modular power supplies all have a standard number of cables attached that cannot be removed without damaging the unit.
Non-modular power supplies usually come with just enough cables to get by with a low-end build, but can occasionally carry GPU power connectors as well.
These PSUs are generally meant for lower budget builds or mid-range builds that need to cut back the cost on something.
In contrast, modular PSUs make use of removable cables to allow for the best possible configuration for your system.
This does mean that you will be paying quite a bit more to have the luxury.
In the past, modular PSUs tended to run at a significantly higher price than similar non-modular models but it seems like lately, the price gap has narrowed.
This is going purely off of only 80+ Bronze rated power supplies, though, which we do not suggest if you’re already splurging on a modular PSU.
What’s the Difference Between Modular and Semi-Modular PSUs?
Semi-modular power supplies, as the name would suggest, offer a middle ground in the price to utility factor.
Semi-modular power supplies offer the main proprietary cables that are mandatory for any system to function at all, but they also provide removable cables for the inessential parts of your build.
Modular power supplies allow for a full custom configuration of a system which can help with non-standard builds, like crazy multi-PSU setups. Semi-modular power supplies allow for a similar level of customisability while still grounding it in reality.
For example, if you have a build that only uses M.2 SSDs and you don’t need any internal peripherals powered, a semi-modular is 100% the way to go.
These semi-modular options allow for builders to still have most of the benefits of a fully modular power supply without the exorbitant price. As a result, they have become a very popular option in mid-range configurations, but honestly, mid-range doesn’t always mean bad.
Depending on where you purchase your power supply, in some instances we’ve found that going for the fully modular options may result in better savings. Though, this may not always be the case, as prices vary across sites.
In addition, modular power supplies tend to be higher quailty, which means they’ll usually have higher efficiency ratings as well.
Do Fully Modular PSUs Come with Cables?
Now, we’ve heard this question way way way too much so it’s time to put it to rest with a final answer.
Of course fully modular PSUs come with cables! This isn’t some Electronic Arts DLC type bullcrap!
All fully modular PSUs and semi-modular PSUs come with enough cables to fully outfit the unit - sometimes even extra.
If your unit doesn’t come with all the required cables or maybe a duplicate of one while missing another, you can always contact the place of purchase for a refund or replacement.
While it is quite rare that instances like this occur, everyone makes mistakes every once in a while.
We’ll be talking about all the mandatory and voluntary cables that come with PSUs in the next section, so feel free to use it as a guide to making sure that all of the cables for your brand new power supply are in order.
Semi Modular Power Supply Cables: What to Expect
As we’ve said before, semi-modular power supplies offer a middle ground when it comes to versatility.
They include all of the main cables required for running any base system while allowing add-ons for any peripherals you may need, whether it be SSDs, hard drives, or disk drives.
The main cables always include the following:
- An ATX 20/24 pin connector for motherboard power
- The EPS connector for CPU power
- Occasionally a PCIe 6-pin and/or 6+2-pin connector for GPU power
Optional cables tend to include Molex 4-pin connectors (which are currently being phased out) for peripherals such as CD-ROM players and older hard drives, SATA connectors for more modern hard drives, SATA SSDs, and SATA DVD players, and extra PCIe connectors at times.
There are some semi-modular configurations that can subvert the need for the extra cables, bringing out the best of both the non-modular and modular sides.
As we mentioned in the section outlining the differences between modular and semi-modular, M.2 SSDs are a good example.
M.2 SSDs and PCIe SSDs both require no external power input aside from the motherboard and thus can be employed without the use of SATA power connectors.
In short, this means that you can run all of your storage with the rest of the computer’s power, so you won’t need those extra SATA power cables taking up space.
Similarly, running a system that utilizes a low-end GPU or no GPU at all will circumvent the need for the PCIe 6-pin or 6+2-pin connectors.
Look at that, now you’ve got a super clean build, but don’t expect to be running the Cyberpunk 2077 on high anytime soon (at least, not without a dedicated GPU).