Power cores 101
You can build a very efficient power core (multiple connected power reactors) by extending a virtual cube in all 3 axis (see it like three chopsticks all 90 degrees from each other, one up-down, one left-right, one front-rear) It does not matter if you extend an axis from the middle, the sides or any other place, so it could be an L shape, a T or even a +, as long as you extend the axis as far as possible in all directions (imagine rubbing the chopsticks together, as long as they are touching.
Imagine a stick of 5 blocks, now add 4 one one side sticking out in another axis, the dimension is now 5×5 (one reactor is used in both axis. Now if you add 4 more blocks in the third axis, the virtual dimension is 5x5x5. So by adding 4 blocks, you go from 25 to 125 output (all output numbers here are fictional, but they give a good ratio example).
Try to extend your core as far as possible to all dimensions. So 100x10x10 is far less efficient as a 40x40x40 core (10.000 output vs 64.000 output with 120 power reactors each. So try to make a cube (yes, this conflicts with current ship sizes…)
The trick lies in creating the biggest virtual cube by extending the axis in all three dimensions.
Few vs. many
Rule of thumb, more cores are less efficient then less but larger cores. So 10 cores or 10x10x10 (10.000 output for 280 blocks) are less efficient to one big core of 93x93x93 (800.000 output for ~280 blocks).
If you have two cores and connect them with only one block, they will form 1 core and you might lose a lot of power, keep the cores in check and make sure they do not touch. You can check this by opening the menu (N for example) then press the structure tab (dunno the shortcut) and click on the plus of power generation, you will see the amount of blocks and the amount of cores you have. Check if that is correct. If you break one core you end up with one more, if you connect two you will have one less… A good way to test is also to connect two cores and check for a big power drop, if that does not happen, your cores are already connected. Try to find the problem.
Enough is enough
If you have a ship of say 150x100x100 meters, extending about 4 power cores across all axis will result in an efficient 4-core engine that supports enough power for the entire ship. usually 1 or 2 will do just fine and there is no need to create a lot more cores.
Cube optimisation – fun but rather useless
You can fill a small cube with a lot of smaller power cores, but that is more a practice then being really efficient. a small and efficient core is one that stretches from the nose to the tail, from the top to the bottom and from wingtip to wingtip. Filling cubes is a nice way to wreck your brain but not very efficient.
Multiple cores – Snaking
You can add more cores by placing them in an X shape (when you look at the cross section) Cores like this can be placed close together but it will give some problems trying to extend them in all directions, you need to guide them around the other cores without them touching.
Easiest is to place 4 cores at the corners of a 3×3 block then extend all the 4 cores out. Now curve the top 2 cores 90 degrees into a different axis. Then extend the lower two cores 2 more blocks and also extend them in the same axis. Now the 3×3 pattern you started with is continued but in another axis, rotated 90 degrees. Repeat for the third axis. If you want the cores to extend from the middle of the ship, you will have to figure out a way to bend all the cores into all directions. It is perfectly doable but a bit of a puzzle.
1 million, the limit
When you build bigger and bigger ships, you want more and more power. After a certain amount of power generation, everything I said before stops working and you will reach a ceiling of about 1M power the efficiency stops. this “soft limit” makes it very very hard to make even bigger ships that drain more power. After 1M power regeneration, the only way to increase power is plain bulk adding power reactors. Each reactor gives a basic 25 e/s per block and a bonus. the bonus becomes 0 again after 1M so you just need to add thousands of reactors in big blocks to add power.
THE most efficient core is a single cross shaped core of 333 blocks in all directions. This will output about 1M e/s from about 1000 blocks. (or, 1000 power per block) Adding another core of 333x333x333 will only add 25.000 power or e/s (1000 blocks times 25 power per block. To reach 2M output, you will need your to add 40.000 extra power reactors in any placement. So the first 1M in 1000 blocks, the next 1M will cost 40K blocks… Now add to that the added cost of adding warp modules, engines etc… you want to stay around 1M power output and catch the rest in power capacitators.
The efficient way to place capacitators is easy, the more cubes are touching, the bigger the bonus, so make one huge blog op capacitators or connect two bricks with a like of blocks so all touch each other. Make sure you have at least as much capacity as you can regenerate or you will lose what you output. Next is a bit of trade-off. If you want burst damage (slow firing weapons) you can recharge in the meantime and need lots of capacity, if you want to fire constantly, you need less capacity since you’ll be using the power as you create it.