Surge protectors aren’t the coolest or most exciting product you can buy for your gaming rig. They don’t improve performance, nor do they make your rig look cooler. But the best surge protectors for gaming PCs offer vital protection that can make the difference between a working computer and one that goes up in smoke during a power spike.
Whether you’re running a budget 1080p rig or a 4K behemoth, every gaming PC will benefit from the extra bit of safety a surge protector provides. So spend that extra $20 or so on a surge protector, no matter how boring it may be. It’s a small outlay in comparison, and, as the old saying goes: better safe than sorry.
Our Favorite Surge Protectors for Gaming PCs
1. APC SurgeArrest P12U2
|Surge Protection||4320 joules|
|Clamping Voltage||330 volts|
|Outlets||12 (plus 2x USB)|
|Cord Length||6 feet|
|Warranty and Insurance||Lifetime / $300,000|
APC’s SurgeArrest P12U2 combines excellent surge protection, the lowest clamping voltage you’ll get on a mainstream surge protector, and great quality-of-life features into a total package. It’s one of the best surge protectors for your gaming PC, if not the best.
The P12U2 is a 12-outlet, two USB port surge protector with an impressive 4320 joules of surge protection, one of the highest ratings you’ll find on a consumer surge protector. Add to that a 330-volt clamping voltage (the lowest value on UL’s rating scale), and you can see why the P12U2 takes the top spot on our list.
In addition to its excellent surge protection, the APC P12U2 comes with a host of safety features such as grounding and overload indicators, safety shutters, and a fail-safe mode. The latter is arguably the most interesting feature, as it stops the APC P12U2 from working once it’s damaged and no longer functioning correctly.
In other words, there’s no chance of you running your equipment unprotected through a faulty P12U2. When it doesn’t turn on, you’ll know it’s time to get a new P12U2. It’s an excellent feature to have and another arrow in the APC SurgeArrest P12U2’s impressive quiver of features.
Add that to handy quality-of-life extras like a couple of 2.4A USB ports and adjustable cable management, and you have the best surge protector for your gaming PC. It’s a bit expensive, but you get what you pay for here.
2. Anker PowerExtend 12
|Surge Protection||4000 joules (x2)|
|Clamping Voltage||775 volts|
|Cord Length||6, 8, or 10 feet|
|Warranty and Insurance||18 months / $300,000|
The Anker PowerExtend 12 is one of the few surge protectors that boasts dual surge protector circuits, each capable of absorbing 4000 joules of electricity. The dual circuitry essentially works like two surge protectors in one, offering an extra layer of protection and longevity.
It’s a clever trick and one that makes it an excellent choice if you want a surge protector that’ll endure a lot of power spikes. But there’s more to the PowerExtend than its surge protection, even if it is the biggest highlight.
Anker includes extra features such as overload and grounding protection, as well as a fire-retardant case. The first two are standard, must-have features, but it’s good to see Anker taking an extra step to include a UL-V0-certified fire-retardant body. Electrical fires are hazardous, so it’s great to have a surge protector that will slow down (or even stop) any fire that happens to start from it.
Despite the excellent surge protection rating and multiple cord length options, the Anker does fall short in a couple of areas compared to the APC P12U2. First up is its clamping voltage: 775 volts is on the high side. It’s workable but not ideal. Secondly, the 18-month warranty is relatively short and can’t compare to APC’s lifetime guarantee.
Despite those flaws, though, the Anker PowerExtend 12’s excellent surge protection makes it worth considering. We’d still recommend the APC P12U2 first, but this is a fine alternative.
3. APC P11VNT3
|Surge Protection||3020 joules|
|Clamping Voltage||400 volts|
|Outlets||11 (plus DSL, coaxial, and network ports)|
|Cord Length||8 feet|
|Warranty and Insurance||Lifetime / $100,000|
APC’s P11VNT3 is a jack-of-all-trades surge protector that offers above-average surge protection, low clamping voltage, and a great complement of ports.
The P11VNT3 combines 11 grounded outlets with DSL/telephone, coaxial, and network ports. It’s a versatile product, and these ports make it suitable for more than just your gaming rig. If you’re after a surge protector that’ll work at the heart of your entire home setup, this is the one to check out first.
The P11VNT3’s 3020-joule surge protection isn’t the highest on the market, but it’s still solid and way above most low-end competitors. APC complements the P11VNT3’s 3000-joule surge protection with an excellent 400-volt clamping voltage measurement.
The extra safety features on the P12U2, including the useful fail-safe mode, are also present on the P11VNT3. So it’s an excellent surge protector overall, especially if you need the extra protection it offers. Do note, however, that the network ports will throttle your connection down to 100 Mbps.
If that sounds a bit too slow for you, you can save some money and go for the cheaper P11VT3. It has the same specs as the P11VNT3, just without the network ports.
4. TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip
|Surge Protection||1710 joules|
|Clamping Voltage||500 volts|
|Outlets||6 (plus 3 USB ports)|
|Cord Length||3 feet|
|Warranty and Insurance||2 years|
Have you gone all-in on the smart home revolution and need a surge protector to match? TP-Link’s Kasa Smart Power Strip (HS300) is the surge protector you want.
It’s not the most capable surge protector on our list, so those of you with a lot of powerful electronics alongside your rig will want to look elsewhere. But if you’re running a more modest rig (or even a gaming laptop), then the TP-Link’s 1710 joules of protection should be more than enough.
Besides, the TP-Link Kasa power strip’s big selling point isn’t its protective capabilities but its smart-home integration. Once you’ve set it up (via Wi-Fi), the TP-Link gives you full control over the ports on the surge protector, whether individually or in groups. Turn devices off and on via your phone (or a voice assistant), schedule off/on times, or monitor energy usage, amongst other features.
The best thing is that you don’t have to be on the same network to do this, either; TP-Link’s Kasa Smart app lets you control your TP-Link Kasa surge protectors and plugs remotely. Want your rig ready to go when you get back home? Just turn it on using the app.
TP-Link’s Kasa surge protector combines above-average surge protection with smart home features, making it a solid buy if the latter is important to you. If it’s not, the APC and Anker units at the top of our list are better buys.
5. AmazonBasics 8-Outlet Power Strip
|Surge Protection||4500 joules|
|Clamping Voltage||400 volts|
|Cord Length||6 or 12 feet|
|Warranty and Insurance||1 year / $20,000|
Most of the high-end surge protectors on our list have 10 or more ports, which is handy if you have a ton of devices to power. But not everyone needs to power that many devices, which is where the AmazonBasics 8-Outlet Power Strip comes in.
Like most AmazonBasics products, this surge protector power strip is a no-frills design. There aren’t any USB ports, and it doesn’t do telephone, network, or coaxial (aerial) surge protection. It’s also the only surge protector on our list that doesn’t have mounting holes, relegating it to floor or table-top use.
But what it lacks in these extra features, it more than makes up for in its basic surge protection. At 4500 joules of surge protection and a clamping voltage of 400 volts, the AmazonBasics surge protector is slightly superior to even our top pick here.
However, the AmazonBasics product can’t compete with the lifetime warranty and insurance coverage of the APC. The AmazonBasics surge protector has a one-year warranty and a $20,000 connected devices warranty.
So it’s not one for the long-term, but it’s hard to be too critical when you get this much surge protection for less than $20. So if you need a quick fix for a small number of devices, the AmazonBasics 8-Outlet Power Strip might just be all you need.
Before You Buy
Despite appearing simple on the surface, there are many factors you need to consider when buying a surge protector. Here are the most crucial ones to pay attention to.
Surge Protection (Joule) Rating
The most important number to look at when buying a surge protector is the joules, which indicates how much protection it offers. Let’s take the Anker PowerExtend as an example. It has a 4000-joule rating for each of its surge protection circuits.
This means that each of the Anker’s circuits can protect your equipment from one massive 4000-joule power surge, two 2000-joule power surges, or any other permutation that adds up to 4000. Larger numbers are better here, and we’d recommend at least a 2000 joule surge protector if you’re plugging in a high-powered gaming rig and other electronics into it.
The joule rating also serves as a rough way to estimate a surge protector’s longevity. More joules mean more power spikes and electrical surges absorbed, which means a longer service life. Surge protectors wear out eventually, so it’s always a good idea to purchase ones with as much protection as you can afford.
After joules, a surge protector’s clamping voltage (or its VPR, voltage protection rating) is close behind in the hierarchy of essential specs. Clamping voltage indicates how much voltage the surge protector will pass through to your electronics before restricting (in other words, “clamping”) the flow.
Ideal clamping voltage values are between 300 to 600 volts. Lower is better, as it means there’s less voltage passed through to your electronic devices during a power surge. This, of course, reduces the possibility of frying your electronics.
Clamping voltage isn’t always prominently displayed on product listings or even on the surge protector’s box itself, so you may have to do some digging to find out.
Warranty and Insurance
As with many other electronics, you should aim for surge protectors with two-year (or longer) warranties wherever possible. Not only does it offer extra peace of mind, but it’s also a good indication that the manufacturer is confident in the quality of its products.
Most PC surge protector manufacturers will also advertise a connected equipment warranty (CEW), expressed in monetary value. While marketing materials emphasize CEWs, the common consensus is that there’s enough fine print and hassle to these warranties that you should never rely on them to protect your investments.
Homeowners insurance is the recommended way to protect your expensive electronics. Sure, it’s a lot more work, but you stand a good chance of receiving compensation for burnt-out electronics with it. We think it’s worth the hassle, especially if you run a lot of pricey electronics alongside your gaming rig.
Mounting holes are possibly the least exciting part of surge protectors (which aren’t that interesting to begin with). Still, they can come in handy if you’re keen on desk cable management. Yes, you can use double-sided tape to mount a surge protector, but mounting holes offer a much sturdier and more permanent solution.
Not everyone will need these holes, of course. They’re mostly useless if you just want to leave your surge protector on the floor or your table, for example. But those of you planning on mounting a gaming PC surge protector underneath or behind your desk will want them.
Surge Protectors vs. Power Strips vs. UPS
Surge protectors and power strips fundamentally do the same thing: they take one wall outlet and split them up into multiple outlets. The difference is that surge protectors come with extra circuitry designed to protect your electronics. Power strips, on the other hand, offer no such protection.
Some people also include uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) in the same conversation as surge protectors. It makes sense, as UPS units also offer active surge protection. But the main reason to use a UPS is for backup power in the case of a power outage; the electrical surge protection is just a nice bonus on top of that.
While backup power sounds excellent, note that consumer-grade uninterruptible power supplies don’t have large enough batteries to keep equipment running for long. Expect minutes, not hours, of extra time. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but that should be enough time to save anything you’ve been working on.
If you’re a professional working on important documents or projects, invest in a good UPS. Gamers can safely skip UPSs and just buy surge protectors, as the few minutes of uptime you get with a UPS likely won’t be of much use.
The great thing about surge protectors is that even the best surge protectors for gaming PCs aren’t that expensive. At around $20 to $30, there’s no reason not to get one for the peace of mind and protection that it offers.
Our top pick, the APC SurgeArrest P12U2, is the one we recommend most of you check out first. If you need coaxial, telephone, or network connections, the APC P11VNT3 is worth a look. But no matter which one you go for, make sure it fits your needs. All the best!