Home Automotive AdviceMods, Tuning, and Performance Supercharger Vs Turbocharger – Which One Is The King Of Power?

Supercharger Vs Turbocharger – Which One Is The King Of Power?

by Jordan Harris
Supercharger VS Turbocharger

Have you been thinking of doing a forced induction mod on your car and you are thinking between supercharger vs turbocharger? Well, if that is the case, then you are at the right place because there will be a lot to cover on this topic where we will learn which of these two is the best for your budget.

Upgrading your naturally aspirated engine is probably one of the best investments that you can make if you want to use the car for racing on the drag strip or your local track. You need that instant acceleration that only forced induction can give you and make your car perform the best and deliver a ton of fast lap times or help you improve your quarter-mile record.

And here forced induction comes into play. A turbocharger or a supercharger will not do only that but also a lot more. After installing one of these mods, your car will never be the same and you will be really proud of it.

There is nothing more satisfying than the sound of a turbocharger spool or the supercharger whine. If you are a car guy, you will enjoy every second of it, let me tell you that. And we will cover in this chapter everything you need to know.

First, we are going to learn what is forced induction, and then we will learn the types of forced induction and briefly go through the basics. After that, we are going to compare the supercharger vs turbocharger and we will go through the pros and cons of these two mods and also the costs that are involved in this build. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.

What Is Forced Induction (Supercharger VS Turbocharger)?

Now let’s learn more about the basics of forced induction. Knowing the basics will be a good step forward in understanding what supercharger vs turbocharger is and understanding what you really need for your car. So, let’s get into it.

So, what is a forced induction? Forced induction is a process that has the goal of delivering compressed air into the combustion process.

Any engine that is not using a forced induction method of delivering air into the intake is considered to be a naturally aspirated engine. And you have probably come across this “naturally aspirated” phrase a ton of times.

So, this type of engine relies on delivering the air naturally. As the car moves, the air is sucked from the intake snorkel into the engine. Simple as that. The downside of this type of induction is the low power that is produced from the engine.

This way simply doesn’t fit the bill when it comes to producing a lot of power. There are naturally aspirated engines that make a ton of power. But for this purpose, you will need to have a ton of displacement. And as we all know the bigger the displacement the heavier the engine is and also the less fuel-efficient it is.

So, something had to be done and this is why forced induction was invented. And this is the process of pushing the air into the combustion chamber with the help of gas compressors that will make the engine produce a ton more power with smaller displacement.

Nowadays you can see tiny forced induction engines that are only 1.6L in displacement but produce more power than naturally aspirated engines that have 3.0L in displacement. But what about supercharger vs turbocharger? More on that in a bit.

Turbocharger VS Supercharger

Now let’s move from the basics to some more interesting topics such as the supercharger vs turbocharger. We need to understand what is turbocharging and supercharging and then move on from there.

This is good to know because some engines by design are more supercharger-friendly than others. So, knowing the types will make your decision of what to install much easier. So, let’s get into it.


Now let’s cover the first type of forced induction and that would be turbocharging. Which is also known simply as a turbo among the people.

Turbocharging is one of the oldest wast of doing a forced induction on internal combustion engines and frankly, nowadays it is one of the most popular types of forced induction since it is fuel-efficient in comparison to supercharging. But how a turbocharger works? Let’s elaborate.

Turbo works in a really simple fashion. The core of this system is the turbine. The turbine is a big air compressor that spools and moves the air into the intake. But what makes this turbo spool?

Well, this is made possible because of the exhaust gases. Each turbo has two sides, a cold side, and a hot side.

Supercharger VS Turbocharger

The hot side is dealing with the exhaust gases while the cold side sucks the air into the engine. How it works is simple to explain.

The gases from the engine travel into the turbine’s hot side where the boost develops. When there is enough pressure, the gases will be released and these gases will spin the turbine.

Then once the turbine spins on the hot side, the compressor spins on the cold side and sucks fresh air. Then this compressed air is pushed into the intercooler to cool off and then sent into the intake of the engine.

Basically, the car sucks more air thanks to the exhaust gases that escape from the exhaust manifold. These gases are used efficiently and produce more power. Now let’s learn how supercharging works before we learn more about the supercharger vs turbocharger.


Now let’s cover supercharging before we compare supercharger vs turbocharger. So, what is supercharging?

Supercharging is another way to drive a compressed engine into the engine. A slightly less popular way to do this practice. But it still does the same job as the turbo. But the core concept of this type of forced induction is completely different.

This design has a completely different approach. It doesn’t use the exhaust gases as the turbo does. The supercharger is a belt-driven component.

There are three core designs. The roots type of supercharger, the Lynsholm twin-screw supercharger, and the centrifugal type of supercharger.

Only the centrifugal type is the most similar to the turbo. This type basically emulates the cold side of a turbocharger.

The belt that is powering the supercharger is connected to the crankshaft and goes to the supercharger. Then as the crankshaft rotates, the supercharger kicks in and there is power instantly.

Unlike in the case with the turbo when you get power only when the car gets up to boost. In supercharging applications, the power is instant. And the higher the RPM goes, the more and more air is sucked into the engine and more power is produced.

Also, the smaller the supercharger pulley, the faster the supercharger rotates. This is why for a lot of car guys, replacing the stock pulley with a smaller pulley is one of the first mods that are done to their cars. But what about turbocharger vs supercharger vs procharger? Let’s explain more on that next where we will learn more about the supercharger vs turbocharger difference.

Supercharger VS Turbocharger Difference

Now let’s compare the supercharger and turbocharger and learn more about the supercharger vs turbocharger difference.

We learned that they are both systems that implement forced induction and they have the simple goal of driving compressed air into the engine so the engine produces more power. But what are the differences?

Well, there are a few of them. As we previously mentioned, these are two different design philosophies.

The turbocharger is driven by exhaust gases, while the supercharger is a belt-driven component. In practice, supercharges are a lot simpler and frankly difficult to break down since they are big bulky components that are heavy-duty.

Turbines on the other hand are notorious for breaking down and if you have a turbocharged car, the chances of your car breaking down are really big.

If you drive a car for 150,000 miles, you can expect that at least once you will either rebuild the turbo or replace it altogether.

But still, even though the superchargers have these advantages, they still are not the way to go for many automakers. So, why is this the case?

Well, this is the case because they are more expensive to make. Then the second advantage of turbochargers is that they are really efficient in comparison to the superchargers.

Superchargers are producing more power. But also steal a lot of energy from the engine in the process since they are belt-driven. So, their efficiency drops significantly when compared to the turbo engine.

This is a big drop that will significantly hurt your fuel economy and make your engine less efficient. Since we live in times when combustion engines are seen as a threat, this is understandable why the supercharged fell out of favor. That is the supercharger vs turbocharger difference.

Supercharger VS Turbocharger Pros And Cons

Now let’s dive into the supercharger vs turbocharger pros and cons. We will separate a good portion of this article dedicated to the advantages and disadvantages of these two types of forced induction.

First, we are going to cover the turbocharger pros and cons and then we will cover the supercharger pros and cons. This will be a good input for those who are still considering whether to get a turbocharged car or a supercharged car.

Turbocharger Pros And Cons

As we mentioned above, first we are going to cover the turbocharger pros and cons and then we will cover the supercharger pros and cons. This will be really useful for you to know when considering supercharger vs turbocharger.

Turbocharger Pros

Now before we learn whether you should get a supercharger vs turbocharger, let’s first cover the pros of running a turbo on your car. What are the advantages of this type of forced induction in your vehicle?

When it comes to pros, we can say that the turbocharger is a really good way of producing a ton of power. It is rather affordable and will deliver a ton of power.

And when it comes to modern vehicles, the turbocharger is one of the irreplaceable components. Almost all new cars whether they are gasoline or diesel, include turbochargers.

The second pro except from the power-producing abilities of the turbo is its low price. Replacing a turbo is rather cheap when it comes to replacing a supercharger. You can get a new turbo for couple hundred dollars or rebuild the turbo for less than $200. Which is a good thing.

And lastly, is the fuel efficiency. Turbocharged vehicles are really efficient. Not in the sense that they have lower fuel consumption because of the turbo. But that they produce more power than their naturally aspirated counterparts. Turbocharged engines are really small and peppy. So, when it comes to naturally aspirated vs turbo, turbo is the way to go.

Why run a big V8 that is thirsty when you can run a small turbo engine that consumes half of the fuel and produces the same power. Now let’s move to the cons of running a turbo before we learn the supercharger vs turbocharger and see which is the way to go.

Turbocharger Cons

Now before we cover the supercharger vs turbocharger and see what is the way to go. Let’s learn the cons of the turbocharger. Are there any cons with this type of forced induction?

Well, there are cons as much as there are pros. The biggest con with the work of the turbocharger is the turbo lag. But what is turbo lag? Well, this is the waiting time until there is enough pressure boost built up into the system so the turbo kicks in. This can be rather annoying for some owners.

When it comes to turbochargers it is worth mentioning that they are really sensitive to poor maintenance. When it comes to the turbo, you need to do your oil changes regularly since the oil is one of the most important aspects. If you have poor oil flow, the turbo will overheat and fail.

The second most common problem is the failure of the shaft inside of the turbo, This could cause the compressor wheel and the turbine wheels to get out of balance. And once they lose balance they will start to rub against the wall of the turbo and this will cause the turbo to fail.

And lastly is the complexity of this system. OEM turbocharged systems are fairly stable. But aftermarket turbochargers can be really unstable and cause trouble. So, when installing an aftermarket turbo, you need to fine-tune it to perfection in order to make it reliable. Now before we learn whether to get a supercharger vs turbocharger, let’s cover some of the cons.

Supercharger Pros And Cons

We have covered the pros and cons of running a turbo. Now let’s learn the pros and cons of running a supercharger. This will be really useful for you to know when it comes to the supercharger vs turbocharger and going for the right option.

Supercharger Pros

Now let’s cover the supercharger pros. What are the pros of running a supercharger on your car? Knowing his will be extra useful when it comes to knowing what to get in terms of supercharger vs turbocharger.

The biggest pro when having a supercharger is the sheer amount of horsepower that you will get. And all that from the get-go. Superchargers will get you instant power without any lag. This means that they work well on low RPM.

Superchargers also require far less maintenance when compared to turbochargers and they rarely break down. Overall, superchargers are the perfect way to get more power out of your engine fast without plumbing and installing piping all over the engine like in the case with the turbo. So, when it comes to the supercharger vs turbocharger, this is an easy win for the supercharger.

Supercharger Cons

Although superchargers have pros, there are still some cons that they have and these cons are really worth mentioning.

The biggest drawback when it comes to these components is that they are really inefficient. They will suck a ton more fuel to deliver the performance and also stress out the engine quite a bit in the process. Mainly because they are powered by the crankshaft of the engine.

Another drawback is that superchargers are mainly designed for V8 engines. They need a high displacement engine to work well. If you add a supercharger to a low displacement engine, the engine will struggle to run the supercharger.

And the last downside is that they run at increased temperatures and the detonation of the fuel could be premature. So, high octane fuel is essential when it comes to running a supercharger. Now let’s learn what is better when it comes to supercharger vs turbocharger price.

Supercharger VS Turbocharger Price

When it comes to supercharger vs turbocharger price, we can say that prices can vary. Depending on the kit you want to go for. Still, superchargers tend to be more expensive than turbochargers.

Even though the turbo is overall less expensive to purchase as a part. Overall, when you add the plumbing needed and components like a new exhaust manifold and an inter-cooler, prices get really high. And it could cost you $3000+ to install a new proper turbo kit.

Supercharger VS Turbocharger

When it comes to supercharging, we can say that costs are far higher and for a proper supercharger setup, you can pay up to $8,000. So, you can see why most people are installing turbos instead of blowers.

Conclusion To Supercharger VS Turbocharger

In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to supercharger vs turbocharger. First, we learned what is forced induction and the two types of forced induction which are turbocharging and supercharging.

Then we elaborated on both types in depth and learned the differences. After that, we have covered all the pros and cons for both supercharger and turbocharger and we discussed the prices that are involved in installing one of these mods on your car.

Overall, go for a turbo if you want to get cheaper horsepower. If you want to spend more, going for a supercharger would be your best bet.

F.A.Q To Supercharger VS Turbocharger

Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions.

What Does A Turbo Do

The turbocharger in simple words is an air compressor. This compressor is spun by the flow of exhaust gases and as the compressor of the turbine spins, it compresses air and pushes this air to the intercooler and then into the intake. The more oxygen you have the better combustion in the process you get. Thus, more power.

How Does A Turbo Work

The turbo is a simple device that has two sides, a compressor, and a turbine. The turbine is the hot side while the compressor is the cold side of the turbo. The turbine is spun by the exhaust gases, and this turbine is spinning the compressor. Which makes the compressor suck and compress more air that is later thrown into the intake manifold. This process creates more power since you have more oxygen inside of the intake.

What Is Turbo Lag

Turbo lag is a situation when there is not enough boost buildup in the turbine. In order for the turbine to work, the engine has to produce enough exhaust gases. In most cars, the turbine kicks in at 1,500 or 2,000 RPM. So, the empty space from zero until the engine reaches this 1,500 RPM is considered to be a turbo lag. Which in other words is the waiting period until the turbo kicks in.

Can You Put A Turbo In Any Car

Technically you can install a turbocharger in any car. But some engines can be rather difficult to tackle. Especially V configuration engines. So, in 99% of the cases, you will see only inline engines that have factory turbochargers on them. Turbocharging a V8 will require a lot more complex plumbing that will be rather expensive. So, in most cases, these engines are not turbocharged.

What Is A Supercharger

A supercharger is a forced induction device that compresses air and drives this air into the intake of the car. Making the car produce more power in the process. The supercharger is powered by the crankshaft of the car through a belt.

How Does A Supercharger Work

Superchargers are really simple. They are components driven by the crankshaft with the help of a belt. As the belt spins the rotor inside of the supercharger spins and sucks more air. Then this air is compressed and pushed into the intake manifold of the car.

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