Power User

A power user is someone with better-than-average computer knowledge and skills, who demands more performance and efficiency from their computer. The term itself is subjective and can refer to computer professionals (like IT administrators and software developers) or simple enthusiasts. Power users tend to view their computers as a hobby instead of just a tool, finding enjoyment in tinkering and customizing settings to make their workflows easier and more efficient.

Most computer users use their computers for basic tasks like web browsing, gaming, creative projects, and office work — tasks that don't require a high-end computer. Power users, on the other hand, are often not satisfied with an average computer and instead aim for faster performance through a combination of higher-end components and software customization. Power users typically install more third-party software than usual, including utility applications like Microsoft Powertoys that add new system features and change how existing features work.

Not every power user is the same, and how they customize their computers will vary based on their needs and interests. For example, some power users may focus their attention on increasing gaming performance, while others may enjoy setting up a home file server. Power users are often comfortable using a computer's command-line interface to issue commands. They will dig into an operating system's settings to customize how it looks and works, and may even manually edit configuration files. They tend to be more familiar with keyboard shortcuts, automation tools, and other ways to streamline tasks. They are often experienced with multiple operating systems and may configure their computers to dual boot.

Since power users often better understand how different computer components work and interact, they tend to be comfortable upgrading their computer's hardware. Many power users assemble their own computers from parts instead of buying pre-assembled machines and may overclock their CPUs to push performance past the official specifications. Some power users (typically gamers) customize the appearance of their computer's chassis as well, adding color-changing LED lights that provide another thing to tinker with.

Updated November 29, 2023 by Brian P.

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