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The best uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for PC gaming in 2020

The best uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for PC gaming in 2020
The best uninterruptible power supply will safeguard your PC from unexpected power surges. (Image credit: CyberPower)

An uninterruptible power supply is an often overlooked component of a high-end gaming PC build, but if you live somewhere prone to blackouts or surges it could be a lifesaver. It can also offer protection from minute fluctuations in outlet power, and alongside one of the best power supply units for PC will ensure your PC is running on the electrical equivalent of Premium Unleaded.

The concept is simple enough: you plug your gaming PC into the uninterruptible power supply (UPS), which itself is plugged into the power outlet. Should you suffer any loss in power the UPS has enough juice store within it to deliver a steady flow of power for a limited period—enough time to save your work, or game, before shutting down your PC safely. It also acts as a surge protector, which provides you with added peace of mind—I'm sure we're all aware of the damage that can be done to expensive components should they be exposed to extreme power fluctuations.

The best uninterruptible power supply will also protect any other peripherals or accessories you have connected to your PC. So if you've recently invested in a brand new 4K gaming monitor, you'll be able to protect that too. Primarily, the protection a UPS offers extends to anything that plugs into it, whether that's one of the best gaming routers or even your favorite game console.

So, how does an uninterruptible power supply work? It's like a large car battery attached to a surge protector. Once you've plugged it into a power outlet, the battery will charge while maintaining power to anything that you've plugged into it. If your mains power drops out, the UPS will automatically switch across to battery power and give you ample time to shut down your PC safely. Once the regular power supply resumes, the battery will replace any lost charge while continuing to power your PC as usual.

We've picked the best uninterruptible power supplies and listed them below, along with a handful of reasons we think they deserve to be on this list. And while they're not cheap, we believe a good UPS is a worthwhile investment, especially if you're someplace where extreme weather is prevalent.

The Best Uninterruptible Power Supplies for gaming

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(Image credit: Cyberpower)
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1. Cyberpower CP1500PFCLCD

The best UPS for most gamers

True sine-wave UPS
900 watts sustained power delivery
Useful LCD screen for monitoring
Only average with ultra, ultra-powerful PCs

The CyberPower CP1500PFCLCD 1500VA is one of the best UPSes on the market. Several factors contribute to it being our top pick for most gamers. First, the CP1500PFCLCD 1500VA has enough juice to handle the majority of gaming machines on the market, even if you're running dual GPUs. Unless you've got systems with ten hard drives, quad-way GPU, and other accessories, the CP1500PFCLCD should have enough juice to last 10-20 minutes (longer if you have a more moderate rig) if a power failure occurs.

Given its ample power reserves, the CP1500PFCLCD is also a great pick coming in at less than $220 for a 900-watt unit. This is a stunning price as just several short years ago, a similarly specced UPS would easily approach $500.

One of the most critical features of the CP1500PFCLCD is its true sine-wave output. Most UPSes in its price range only provide sine-wave simulated production, which is a stepped sine-wave that approximates what you get out of your wall outlet. Some electronics are sensitive to simulated sine-waves and will behave abnormally. At $214, having true sine-wave output is unheard of, so kudos to CyberPower for delivering on quality power output.

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(Image credit: Cyberpower)
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2. Cyberpower EC650LCD

The best UPS for your network and accessories

Good power reserves for its size
LCD screen for load monitoring
ECO mode for outlet management
Simulated sine-wave output

For smaller accessories and network equipment, the CyberPower EC650LCD is the best pick for most people. At a price point of less than $60 for 390W/650VA, the EC650LCD has enough power reserves to keep the average home network alive for well over 15 minutes, which is enough time to exit your game/applications, save all your work through the network, and shut everything off gracefully during a power outage.

The EC650LCD is also small enough to hide away, taking up very little desktop room for a 390W unit. One of my favorite features of the EC650LCD is its array of ECO ports. These ports can be managed and timed to turn on or off, depending on your schedule or use case. The ECO ports will also power down accessories like your speakers and displays if your PC is asleep or powered down.

There are four surge-only sockets, three of which are ECO mode sockets, and four battery backed up sockets. I also like the fact that two of the ports have extra clearance around them for devices that have huge wall warts. The best use case for the EC650LCD is for connecting your displays and your network equipment. During testing, the EC650LCD successfully powered off both my display and my speakers when I powered off my PC. Power was promptly returned to both devices when the PC turns back on.

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(Image credit: APC)
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3. APC BE600M1

The best UPS for small accessories

Enough power for accessories and wireless router
Will power game consoles
Small and convenient for desktop placement
Simulated sine-wave output
Only six outlets

The name APC is synonymous with high-quality UPS products. I use three of the company's Smart-UPS professional level units at home: two 1000VA units for my network and NAS gear and one 1500VA unit for my PC and displays.

Out of the units that APC sent me, the BE600M1 Back-UPS was my favorite and one that is perfect for most users who want to protect their accessories and lower-powered products, such as routers and peripherals. The BE600M1 is small and the ideal size for sitting on a desk, where ports are in an arm's reach for conveniently plugging in a laptop, tablet, or mobile phone.

APC's BE600M1 is excellent at providing both battery and surge protection for the devices you use most every day. That is your phone, and possibly a tablet. However, it has enough power reserves for you to plug in at least a router and a single display. If you only plan to use the BE600M1 to power a wifi router, the unit will have enough juice in it to let you browse the internet in peace for several hours while even if the electricity in the rest of your house is gone. Priorities.

The best part of the BE600M1 is its size. Most UPS are large and belong on the floor, but APC encourages you to put the BE600M1 on a desk. The unit provides a single 1.5A USB port for charging a phone or tablet, so you don't have to use your device's power adapter, which is inevitably a wall wart that potentially overlaps another socket or two, so you free up sockets for other devices.

Choosing the best uninterruptible power supply

There are two types of uninterruptible power supply to look out for when shopping around for your gaming PC: sine-wave and simulated sine-wave.

Sine wave UPS deliver a smooth, consistent oscillation of AC power direct to your PSU. These are often the only type of UPS you'll find recommended for gaming PCs due to their efficiency and clean power delivery.

Simulated sine-wave UPS deliver a stepped, approximated waveform using pulse-width modulation (PWM). That's the same concept used to control PC case fan RPM. These are often far less expensive than pure sine-wave UPS, and can be useful for peripherals, small devices, and monitors. However, since the waveform is not always exact these may not function as intended with PSUs that demand a stable and consistent input.