Personal computers (PCs) are called that for a reason; with the degree of choice these machines offer their users, it is understandable that users are interested in customizing them so they can add their personal touch to their device. One such component amenable to such modification is the power supply unit (PSU) shroud.
This article will explain power supply units, why they are used, and how to build yours at home.
What Is a PSU Shroud?
A PSU shroud, or power supply shroud, is a dedicated cover for the power supply unit of a computer. The power supply unit is the part of the computer that converts the alternating current received from the socket to the direct current needed by the various pieces of hardware within the computer. It is important to note that laptops do not have power supply units in this sense.
That’s because laptops have a charger with a power adapter and a battery that can replace the power supply unit together. Hence, power supply units are a desktop-only concept. The power supply unit and its shroud are usually found at the bottom of your desktop’s tower (the part of your computer with the USB ports).
However, in older models, they may be found at the top.
PSU Shroud Uses
Shrouds on power supply units are purely an aesthetic choice and are used by those interested in customizing the appearance of their computer. Specifically, power supply unit shrouds allow the user to hide various components that are connected to the power supply unit, such as cables as well as the parts of the power supply unit itself.
Such users consider this essential because the power supply unit consists of wires, capacitors, diodes, etc., all of which give the computer a chaotic look.
There is a myth perpetuated by some that these shrouds also help cool the power supply unit, the logic being that they separate the power supply from the hard drive compartment, and both of these things generate lots of heat and may malfunction if exposed to excess heat.
However, this is irrelevant because manufacturers are aware of the heat generated by these components and include fans for both of them as a result. Furthermore, if the shroud for a power supply unit is installed incorrectly, that may trap the heat the power supply unit’s fan is responsible for dispersing.
Hence, many desktop towers don’t even have a power supply unit shroud, and those that include them do so purely for aesthetic or marketing purposes.
Types of PSU Shroud
There is a wide variety of power supply unit shrouds available in the market, which may be described based on the material used in constructing them and based on their design. However, as power supply units are ultimately for aesthetics, these types are differentiated by their appearance.
With that in mind, common types of power supply unit shrouds are:
- Material: Acrylic, aluminum, steel, etc.
- Color and Art: Red, green, and blue (RGB), matte black, etc.
Generally, acrylic or aluminum is the material of choice for producing power supply unit shrouds.
These shrouds are commonly referred to as plexiglass because plexiglass is the most common type of acrylic used to create power supply unit shrouds. These shrouds are technically see-through but may be painted to assume any color, the only limits being the skill and imagination of the painter. They are also not conductors, so in the event that a cable connected to the unit is exposed, they will not transmit the resulting current to the user.
Because acrylic is see-through, it is better for lighter colors (in the same way that you would want to paint on blank canvas paper and not a blackboard)
These shrouds are better for darker colors and more muted designs because they are grey. Also, as aluminum sheets are thicker than acrylic, they generally do not need any adhesives to fit snugly onto the power supply unit. They are also less likely to be damaged if subject to accidental trauma, e.g., being dropped onto the floor.
Shrouds may also be classified based on color.
RGB is a popular concept among computer enthusiasts and refers to designs and colors that combine red, green, and blue. Its origin stems from the fact that all images on a computer screen contain a mixture of these three colors.
Power supply unit shrouds may also have RGB lights included that can flash alternate colors and, in so doing, improve the appearance of the shroud. Because these colors can be combined in many ways (e.g., red and blue may be combined to give purple), RGB shrouds may not be purely red, green, and blue. However, these designs are always colorful, have a futuristic appearance, and fit the techie aesthetic.
This color scheme is the one commonly used in shrouds included with the purchase of the desktop tower. Matte black is a safe, minimalistic choice because it can be paired with many other colors.
DIY PSU Shroud
Though many types of power supply unit shrouds are available for purchase, they may also be constructed at home using an acrylic sheet, cardboard, an X-Acto knife, large disposable paper wrapping, measuring tape, spray paint, and a heat gun.
Use the measuring tape to measure your power supply unit’s height, length, and width. Next, add the height and width and add 0.5 inches to the length and the sum of the height and width. Afterward, cut out a piece of cardboard with the dimensions you got.
Bend it and fit it onto the power supply unit to ensure you have the correct measurements. Place that cardboard on an acrylic sheet and cut through the cardboard to get the same shape but as acrylic. Place your acrylic on a table with part of its length hanging off of it. This length should be equal to the width of the power supply unit.
Then use any sturdy and non-flammable object to keep the rest of the acrylic firmly anchored to the table while you apply heat to the point where the acrylic comes off the table. This will make the acrylic bendable. Bend it 90 degrees, place it on paper wrapping and spray paint it a color of your choice.
It is important to spray paint the bottom end first and allow it to dry to avoid paint running off onto the other half of the shroud. Within an hour, both sides should be dry, and you can place the shroud on the power supply unit.
If it does not fit snugly, it can be reinforced with Velcro.
Power supply unit shrouds are a cover placed on power supply units for purely aesthetic purposes; they do not have any significant effects on the ability of a computer to keep its components cool. They are commonly made of aluminum or acrylic and come in various colors, but RGB shrouds are particularly prized among computer enthusiasts. They may be purchased or made at home.