Power Supplies

Power Supplies

If you value the stability of your system and want to minimise your electricity costs, invest in a high-quality power supply.

If you value the stability of your system and want to minimise your electricity costs, invest in a high-quality power supply

It’s easy to imagine that all power supplies are the same, and when you can buy a ‘no-name’ unit for twenty bucks you might wonder why you’d pay anything more. But dirt-cheap models can’t always provide the advertised wattage, leading to intermittent crashes or even a complete burn-out at higher loads.

They can be woefully inefficient, too, wasting as much as a third of the power they draw. If you value the stability of your system – and want to keep electricity bills to a minimum – it makes sense to invest in a high-quality supply and let the savings on your electricity bill offset the extra cost.

This month, we’ve taken eight big-brand power supplies and subjected them to extensive electrical testing at 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% of their claimed capacity. The good news is that all of them proved comfortably able to deliver the promised power levels, and all ran stably, with no rail deviating more than 3% from its proper voltage (the ATX standard allows for 5% deviation on the main rails).

We also tested for power efficiency and all achieved better than 80% – see the chart opposite for each supply’s average efficiency across our tests. But that isn’t to say they’re interchangeable: each has its own strengths, and there’s a huge range of capacities on offer.

Browse this article: 

This Group Test appeared in the June, 2008 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine

See more about:  power  |  supplies  |  components  |  fsp  |  akasa  |  enermax  |  gigabyte  |  corsair
 
 

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Comments: 6
kevin_watters
2 June 2008
I have seen as many dead 'high quality' power supplies as cheap ones. A power surge/spike will kill a 'good' one as fast as a 'cheap' one. The trick is to put a good quality uninterruptible power supply on your system. That will stop almost all power related problems dead in their tracks.


Comment made about the PC Authority article:
Power Supplies?
If you value the stability of your system and want to minimise your electricity costs, invest in a high-quality power supply.



What do you think? Join the discussion.
.:Cyb3rGlitch:.
2 June 2008
PSUs don't just die from power surges, they die from overload as well. Cheap PSUs often have low current on the 12v rails (which coincidently are the most used) but place more current on the 5v. This allows them to claim that the PSU is really 500W when in fact they cannot provide 150W under load. When the system draws more current, the PSU usually fails. This often causes system component damage.

On the other hand, high quality PSUs are more efficient, and can provide ~80% of the advertised wattage (e.g. 80 plus branded PSUs).
Dinks-c
10 July 2008
Purchased an Enamax 720watt PSU 12 months ago for the Home Server. At $300 you would expect something decent. I have had it replaced twice under the 3 year warranty in that time. Both times I shut the computer down for maintenance and it wouldn't re-start. I do have filters on the fuse box of the house. next I suppose is an UPS.

I also have a couple of Zalman 500watt noiseless PSU's in other computers and they are fantastic.
.:Cyb3rGlitch:.
10 July 2008
Always go for the single +12v rail '80 plus' certified PSUs. They're the best bet.
tony_stamo
18 July 2008
With a UPS, if you're budget ain't that big, try the "PrOffice" model from Upsonic. http://www.upsonic.com.au/products.asp
We bought a heap of them for our company at just over $100 each and they work great.
They're 650vA and have the standard 3pin "wall outlet" type sockets rather the "D" style sockets you see on UPS's from the likes of APC, etc.
Slatts
20 July 2008
As with any component, you buy the best part that your budget will allow. That said, I'd tend to weight power supply and mother board more highly in my budget than say ram, graphics card or even CPU. These are components more likely to be changed in an upgrade as more funds become available.
Off topic now:
I've been using a Sola 400VA UPS for a 4 years now and only had to replace the battery in it last year. It will run my main system for about 5 minutes allowing for a controlled shut-down. If the main system isn't booted up it'll keep my ADSL router and wireless access point powered up so I can keep my laptop on line for all but the longest blackouts ;)

Edited by Slatts: 20/7/2008 01:04:06 PM
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