A quality extension cord is essential if you want to use your gaming PC or console outdoors, on your patio, porch, or backyard. A high-power extension cord could be a lifesaver if you plan on building a gaming shed (they exist, and they’re super cool) and want to perform some testing before connecting the said object to the power grid. So, today we’re showing you the best extension cords for computers and consoles.
Before we begin, note that extension cords are not meant to be long-term solutions for powering your gaming PC or console. You can freely use them for an afternoon outdoor gaming session. However, if you plan on building a gaming den in your backyard, make sure to hook it to the power grid and use regular outlets or a power strip or surge protector and not an extension cord. Now that we’ve cleared that, let’s explain how we picked the best extension cords for gamers.
How Did We Select the Best Extension Cords for Gaming on the Market?
While pretty simple in design, extension cords do differ. Some come with necessary safety certifications, while others don’t. They also differ regarding their power rating, length, number of power outlets, the thickness of the cord itself, etc.
Regarding length, our budget pick is by far the shortest of the three. The other two choices come with much longer cords since we reckon you’ll use them indoors and outdoors.
- UL/ETL Listed/Approved – This is the first thing we looked for when picking the best extension cords for your PC. Look, when it comes to electric appliances, safety is everything, so if a product isn’t UL/ETL listed (UL has its own testing procedures while ETL uses UL’s procedures, so they’re both fine), we didn’t consider it.
- Three Power Outlets – while most extension cords only come with one power outlet, an average PC setup needs at least two (the PC itself and the monitor). Further, your average console setup needs two to three power outlets, depending on whether you use standalone speakers.
- And since hooking up a power strip or a surge protector to an extension cord isn’t recommended, single outlet cords wouldn’t cut it. So, we’ve decided to only include triple outlet cords to allow you to hook one extra device or to be able to use a console with a TV and standalone speakers.
- 1650W rating or higher – Yes, this is overkill, but most quality extension cords have a power rating of at least 1650W. This allows you to use your PC, a monitor, and a third device without overloading the cord.
- 3-Prong Grounded Plug – This is a no-brainer. You want to have a 3-prong, grounded plug in every extension cord since they’re made to work with high-power appliances, and we welcome every feature that increases safety.
- Notification LED for Outdoor Use – Another convenient feature to have in an extension cord made for outdoor use. While our budget pick (made for indoor use) doesn’t have LED, both the high-end and outlier picks come with one.
- 16-gauge cord or thicker rated for at least 13 Amps – The thicker the cord, the better because longer cables need to be thicker to handle the same amount of current. However, unlike some power tools, an average PC and a monitor, or a console & a TV combo, aren’t power hogs. In other words, even a 16-gauge cord, rated for 13 amps, is more than good enough for your average gaming PC. In the US, even a 1200W power supply only uses 10 Amps (120V times 10 Amps equals 1200 watts).A PSU found in your average gaming PC – say 750W because we’re generous – uses about 6.25 amps. And that’s under max load, which never happens in regular usage. In our article on how much electricity does a gaming PC use we concluded that even a high-end gaming PC (Ryzen 5900X, RTX 3080 Ti) uses less than 600W when under maximum load.
Adjust this for new power-hungry Ryzen and Intel CPUs, and you’ve got something in the ballpark of 650W-700W, or 5.4-5.85 Amps, under maximum load. The catch is that this number is even lower when playing games.
Modern CPUs use a surprisingly low amount of power when running games. Even the 12900K uses less than 100W, even in the most demanding AAA titles. And since even a 48-inch OLED TV only uses about 140W (~1.16 Amps), you’ll have plenty of power left for your monitor, speakers, or phone charger.
In the world of gaming consoles, the power needs are lower still. PS5 uses about 200-230 watts depending on the revision – the newest revision uses less power. Xbox Series X is rated at 350W, but it uses about the same amount of power as PS5.
Xbox Series S only uses about 75W of power under load. And Nintendo Switch uses about 6-7W of power depending on the revision. In other words, any combination of a home console and a TV shouldn’t get anywhere near the power consumption of an average gaming PC.
Even our budget pick features a 14-gauge cord — more than enough even for a high-end PC. The lowest amperage is present in our outlier pick, which is rated for 13 Amps. The good news is that these specs are good enough for most power tools since we doubt you’ll use the extension cord only for your PC.
The Best Extension Cord for Gaming : Terabloom SJEOW
This is a high-end extension cord for outdoor use. You see, the SJEOW label has a meaning SJEOW means this cord is made for use at 300V, it’s rated for extreme heat and cold, and its cable is made of a thermoplastic elastomer that doesn’t get stiff in cold weather. On top of that, this cord’s also oil resistant and rated for outdoor use at -58⁰ F (the OW part of the label).
In other words, this is almost the highest-quality extension cord there is. The 12-gauge thick cord and 1875W/15A rating are the cherry on the cake. The only way this cord could’ve been better is if it were a 10-gauge cord, which is complete overkill for any gaming setup. The cord is is available in different lengths, starting from 15ft at an affordable $27.99.
Now, if you desire to game in the woods behind your house for one reason or another, you can get this extension cord in 100ft for $99.99. It also features a triple outlet and a LED power indicator. In other words, this extension cord has everything one needs for their gaming PC or a console setup.
The Best Budget Extension Cord: Iron Forge Heavy Duty
Our budget pick is also made for outdoor use, but due to its length of only 10ft, we recommend it for indoor use only. You could use it to game on your laptop somewhere outside where you have a nearby power outlet. It’s cheap, but it does feature a 14-gauge cord, 15amps/1875W rating, and three power outlets. The cord comes with an SJTOW label which means it’s rated for 300V, with the cable made of PVC thermoplastic. The cable’s also insulated and jacketed.
Other features include oil resistance (the O in the label) and rating for outdoor use at -31⁰ F (the W part of the label).
The Outlier: DEWENWILS Retractable Cord Reel
Check our outlier pick if you want more features while still having a fairly powerful extension cord. This is a 14-gauge, 50ft extension cord with retractable reel and three power outlets with LED indicator rated for 1625W/13 Amps.
Not the highest rating, but pretty good for a model with a retractable reel since those can get hot when used while fully coiled up. Other features include a 13 Amp resettable circuit breaker for extra safety and a wall mount.
The cord has an SJTOW label, making it the same quality as our budget pick. In other words, it’s rated for outdoor use as long as the outside temperature stays at -31⁰ F or higher. A pretty good extension cord and with a plethora of extra features.
It comes in five different colors, and the price is set at $82.99.
Should I Use a Power Strip, Extension Cord, or Surge Protector?
If you plan on using your PC in a room with power outlets, we recommend getting either a power strip or a surge protector. Now, unless you’re absolutely sure your local power grid is in tip-top shape – i.e., no brownouts, no power outages, no minor voltage drops – get a power strip.
However, we recommend spending a bit more and getting a quality surge protector. You can get excellent surge protectors even in the budget market. Check our list of the best surge protectors to find our favorites.
On the other hand, if your PC room does not have any power outlet or you plan on using your PC outside or in an object not connected to the power network, it’s best to get a high-end extension cord rated for outdoor usage of appropriate length.
Just don’t make the extension cord a long-term solution. Either install a proper power outlet or connect the said object to the power grid.
What Gauge Extension Cord is best for Computers?
The gist is that the thicker the cord, the more amps can go through it without overheating it or even setting it on fire in extreme cases.
Even a 16-gauge extension cord can finish the job for your average gaming computer. A 16-gauge cord can carry up to 13 amps as long as its length is 50 feet or less. The issue here is that the longer the cable, the thicker it has to be to carry the same amount of power due to increased resistance.
So, when looking for an extension cord, look for models up to 50ft in length that have at least 16-gauge thick cable and are rated for at least 13 amps.
Further, according to Rtings.com (push the size slider fully to the right), even a 75-inch TV shouldn’t need more than 130-140 watts of power, which translates to just over 1 amp. Add the numbers we have for gaming consoles, and you’ve got less than 400W. Way less than a gaming PC.
However, if you’re looking for an extension cord to use with power tools in addition to your gaming PC, make sure they’re rated for 13 amps and have at least a 14-gauge cord. As for the length, a 100ft, 12-gauge cord can carry up to 15 Amps, which is enough for most power tools.
Why Do Extension Cords Get Hot?
The warmer the wire inside an extension cord, the higher the current – in amps – flowing through it. Next, the longer the cable, the higher its resistance, and if the appliance hooked to the cord has high wattage – a power drill, for instance – it can make the cable quite warm. If your extension cord feels hot to the touch, it’s probably because it’s reasonably long and/or closing in on its power limits.
On top of this, an extension cord can get hot if it’s rolled up (in the case of models with a cord reel) since the heat is harder to escape when you have a coiled-up cable made of rubber. If not addressed (unreeling it, for instance), this can cause the cord to melt or catch fire.
Is It Safe to Daisy Chain Extension Cords?
Generally, this is not safe. Daisy-chained extension cords can lead to a number of bad stuff. Voltage drop is the most common issue.
All extension cords are rated for their original length so if you daisy chain them, the voltage will drop since the distance is longer than what a specific cable is rated for. Next, daisy chaining cords can also lead to current overload, which can result in overheating, even fire.
Next, do not connect a power strip/surge protector or a UPS to an extension cord. You should hook those directly to a power outlet.
This is the main reason we only picked extension cords with three outlets, so you can hook up both your PC and monitor to a single extension cord, which is by far the safest option.
How to Keep Extension Cords from Unplugging?
If you, for whatever reason, really need to daisy chain multiple extension cords or just want to keep the connection safe, there are several ways to prevent the cable from unplugging.
The easiest way is to keep it loose and ensure the cord is out of reach for children or pets. That way, the cord won’t accidentally unplug in case you stretch it to its limits or if your kid or a dog finds it attractive.
Also, if you have a pet, make sure to know where they are at all times. Unlike small children who can unplug it but lack the tools to damage it, a dog’s able to damage the insulation and even electrocute itself.
Next, you can first tie the power cable and the cord together and then connect them. This way, they won’t disconnect. At the same time, there’s no way to exert force on the two plugs and potentially damage them. On the other hand, we don’t recommend tying them in a simple knot after plugging them together.
The third way is getting an extension cord lock that does an excellent job of keeping the connection secure while not exerting force on the plug and the cord.
Ideas on How to Hide an Extension Cord Inside or Outside
First of all, do not hide extension cords under carpets or floors, and do not press on them if you decide to hide them behind furniture.
They can get warm, even hot, if pushed to their max Amp rating, and hiding them below a carpet or any other insulating floor cover is a severe fire hazard. And you shouldn’t press any power cable since you can damage them, which can ultimately become a fire hazard.
You can do the following:
Hide them behind smaller pieces of furniture – You can hide your extension cord behind your desk or smaller pieces of furniture. Just ensure it’s not pressed against the wall or that the piece of furniture you’re hiding it behind isn’t exerting force on the cord.
In other words, always make room between the cable and the furniture. Also, we recommend this strategy only if you have floors that aren’t covered in carpets, rugs or any other kind of heat-insulating material.
We don’t recommend tucking an extension cord behind bigger pieces of furniture such as beds or dressers. It’s because, firstly, extension cords aren’t made as a long-term solution – use power strips or surge protectors instead.
Secondly, extension cords can get warm when used, and placing them behind large pieces of furniture can make them even warmer. Ultimately, this could lead to the cable melting or catching fire.
Velcro Strap-based cable management – basic Velcro straps are a great way to hide all cables, including extension cords. Just strap it to the back of your desk and ensure it’s hidden all the way to the power outlet.
For the reasons mentioned above, we don’t recommend using cord covers or tubing. Or running extension cords across your floor tucked inside baseboard cord channels. Other low-power cables (coax or ethernet) will work fine but not extension cords since they, and we aren’t tired of repeating this for the 10th time today, can get pretty warm, hot even, when in use.
Best Extension Cords for Computers and Consoles – Conclusion
We hope you found your next extension cord in this buying guide. If you didn’t these are the most important things to know regarding extension cords:
- Extension cords are simple tools that provide tons of value. A quality extension cable can power a high-end gaming PC or a console without issues. However, do not use them on a long-term basis.
- Since you shouldn’t connect a power strip or a surge protector to an extension cord, get a model with multiple outlets, enough to power your PC & monitor or console & TV combo.
- When in the market for a new extension cord only consider models that come with a UL/ETL certification. Also, we recommend at least a 16-gauge cable rated for 13 Amps or more.
- Never, ever, cheap out on electrical equipment including extension cords. They’re relatively affordable and a high-end model can last a lifetime so spending a bit more will set you for life.