Surge Protector For Gaming PC In this post, we’re taking a quick look at a commonly overlooked computer system component, surge protection.
When buying or building a new computer, most people will come across this topic. The most common question asked is: Do I need a surge protector?
The recommendation from us at PC Build Advisor is simple – Yes. This article will teach you why getting a surge protection device is worth it and the types of devices you can get.
Put down the dollar store power strip and slowly back away. The short answer is no; power strips do not protect your PC from electrical fluctuations. However, you can get more sophisticated stripes with surge protection. Not all power strips are created equal, and inexpensive ones will often fail to protect your machine—here’s what you need to know.
Surge protectors are available as single outlet units but typically come in power bars, providing several protected outlets. This is where the confusion comes in. Many people assume that all power bars have surge protection, but unless it is specified, your components will be left unprotected.
SOME OF OUR FAVORITE SURGE STRIPS
Surges and spikes
To understand what kind of equipment you need, you must know what you are protecting your computer from. When you plug your computer or any electrical equipment into a regular power outlet, the device is supposed to be provided with a consistent voltage level to function correctly. Under certain conditions, such as power outages or issues with the power grid, spikes or surges in voltage can occur. A point is a momentary increase in voltage, while a wave is a prolonged increase. Whether you experience a spike or surge, any sudden increase in voltage can damage your equipment and even convert them into expensive paperweights.
One of the most common causes of damaged equipment from surges and spikes is when you have a blackout. When your power is restored, there is a momentary surge in electricity. This can be devastating to equipment.
The solution to these voltage increases is to use a surge protector. These protect your equipment by diverting the extra energy from a surge or spike into a protective component allowing only the appropriate voltage to reach your equipment.
Surge protection is one of the simplest things we can do to keep our equipment safe. It is also often overlooked, but buying a surge protector today could save you thousands tomorrow. While not all power bars are surge protectors, not all surge protectors provide the same level of protection. You get what you pay for.
Which ones should I get?
Many of us on the team like the strips from Belkin. They’re inexpensive and are made well. In general, look for strips that have room for large power bricks. Some devices use power bricks that will block two or more outlets. Our go-to strip is the Belkin BE112230-08 12-outlet strip, which has 12 outlets, but half are spaced apart to accommodate power bricks.
Strips with surge protection will often have a joules rating on them, indicating how much of a surge they can take. The higher the rating, the better.
If you want to protect your equipment further, consider an uninterruptible power supply or UPS. These devices come with built-in batteries that can keep your equipment running during a power outage, allowing you time to save your work and shut down gracefully.
Why Do I Need Surge Protection?
Computers have many susceptible components that require a clean and consistent voltage supply. Unfortunately, certain events can cause power surges in household electricity supply. These events can include other devices failing within the house, accidental shorts, lightning strikes, issues with the electricity supplier, and many more. In rare circumstances, such surges can also travel over the phone or coaxial lines.
To help prevent these events from damaging your equipment, manufacturers sometimes build some essential protection directly into the device. Unfortunately, the built-in protection is usually fundamental and can wear out quickly if it is actively used.
Types of Surge Protection
To absorb the surges before they reach your expensive equipment, you can use various devices in your home. These can range from devices used on the main electricity line to protect your entire house to power strips between the wall outlet and your equipment.
If you are interested in surge protection for your home, don’t hesitate to contact a local electrician. Here we will focus on the devices you can use between the outlet and your equipment.
- Surge Protection Power Strips
- UPS – Uninterruptible Power Supplies
Let’s take a look at the most commonly used device type first.
Surge Protection Power Strips
These devices are simple power strips/outlet strips/outlet boards that incorporate simple surge protection circuitry. Most of these work using a component (or components) called a MOV (Metal Oxide Varistor), which essentially soaks up (or shorts) the surges.
There is one significant fact that many people don’t know about these types of boards. They wear out! Each time the MOV in the board soaks up a surge, it reduces its lifespan. In some extreme cases, such as a lighting strike, the MOV can die in one wave. Once the MOV fails, the board needs to be replaced. When the MOV is used up / dies in some power strips, the board stops working entirely. In others, it continues to work without surge protection, leaving your equipment vulnerable.
Most good surge protection power strips will include an indicator light to monitor whether the surge protection is still working or if the board needs to be replaced.
Here are some examples of high-quality surge protector power strips.
This is an 11-outlet surge-protected power strip from the very reputable company APC (American Power Conversion) by Schneider Electric. These boards are rated for 3400 joules and offer protection for 11 outlets, phone lines (to protect phones and modems), and coaxial (to safeguard TVs and cable boxes). APC provides a lifetime warranty and a $300,000 Equipment Protection Policy on this particular model, so you know they stand behind its abilities.
Another good option is the Belkin BP112230-08. This outlet strip offers a 4320-joule energy rating with 12 outlets, 4 of which can rotate to allow secure connection of large power adapters. It also provides telephone and coaxial protection. Like APC, Belkin back this product with a lifetime warranty and a $300,000 Connected Equipment Warranty.
UPS – Uninterruptible Power Supply
Another option you might consider is an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). These devices are battery backup systems for your equipment while providing essential surge protection. A UPS can keep your computer powered on and running when the power goes out in your house.
The surge protection used in consumer-grade UPS devices is typically similar to what’s used in the surge protection power strips mentioned above (MOVs). As such, you can expect similar performance in terms of surge protection.
The main advantages of using a UPS come from power delivery problems other than surges. A few examples of such issues are:
- Blackouts – complete loss of power
- Brownouts – a reduction in power supply to your house
- Something tripping the circuit breaker in your house
- Noise on the line – poor quality of power being supplied to your house
Without a UPS, the above problems could turn off your computer immediately, causing potential damage to your operating system from incorrect shut down or even just loss of unsaved work.
If you run your computer off a UPS, the UPS will detect such power conditions and immediately switch to battery power without your computer being affected. Your computer will continue to run off the UPS batteries for a long time, depending on your UPS model. This could range from 10 minutes to over an hour. Once power is restored, the UPS will automatically switch back to mains power.
In the event of a lengthy loss of power, some UPS can be configured to issue a shutdown request to your computer before the batteries run out. This means that if you’re out of the house and your house loses power for a long duration, you know your computer will not experience a sudden loss of control from the blackout or the batteries in the UPS running out.
We plan to go into more detail on UPS devices and the many options available soon. For now, take a look at these high-quality UPS for typical PCs.
This is another product by APC which I like. I’ve used a few APC UPS over the years, and they work well. This particular model is the Back-UPS Pro 1500VA / 900W version. For a typical PC and monitor, this should provide at least an hour of runtime on the batteries.
APC Smart-UPS SMC1500
An alternate to the Back-UPS from APC is the Smart-UPS also from APC. This model is also a 1500VA / 900W and should provide the same run time as the Back-UPS listed above. The Smart-UPS is their more premium offering designed for more sensitive workloads. It provides a “pure sine wave” output that is more compatible with devices like motors. Many of the Smart-UPS models also allow for additional battery banks to be added for longer power reserves.
We hope this has answered some of your questions about surge protection for your computer. We plan to post another soon on UPS devices, their options, and how to configure them. If you have any questions, please post them in the comments section.
Author’s Opinion regarding the Surge Protector For Gaming PC
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