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Tom's Hardware Compares Power Supplies

CowboyNeal posted more than 11 years ago | from the overlooked-pc-components dept.

Hardware 317

Some guy wrote in to say "Tom's Hardware Guide takes a hard look at power supplies to find out if we are getting what we paid for. The results of the testing were very surprising." Very useful to anyone who has built their own machine from scratch or burned out a cheap power supply.

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Diet Coke with Lemon ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498088)

... tastes like floor cleaner.

Thank you very much.

Re:Diet Coke with Lemon ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498557)

Did you ever drink floor cleaner. No, thank YOU!

ACFP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498093)

ACFP

TOM'S FAGGOT HARDWARE GUIDE COMPARES COCKS (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498095)

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498100)

everybody else does it

Dear Sir, (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498101)

Please fuck me in the ass.

Where have all the first posters gone?

Thank you.

FP! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498103)

FP! TOM SUX!

Power Supplies (3, Interesting)

LordYUK (552359) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498127)

My friend and I set fire to quite a few power supplies, mostly of the cheap variety... one was in an emachine (gah, they SUCK) after sticking a G4 ti4200 in it...

that was an accident..

the other was when he flipped the voltage on a system that wouldnt power on... that was an interesting smell, let me tell you...

Re:Power Supplies (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498153)

So if I wanted to email you it would be "jeff@threemoons.net"? Nice domain, do you have three ass cheeks or something?

Re:Power Supplies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498231)

(+1) Insightful!

Re:Power Supplies (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498247)

And now, for something completely different, A man with three buttocks [stone-dead.asn.au] .

Re:Power Supplies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498462)

Maybe this is off topic, but I thought it was funny. I had a power supply make a very loud POP sound. When I pulled it out and open the box, a capacitor had exploded. Left a "wondderful" smell of burning materials in the room for a few hours.

Re:Power Supplies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498567)

Scooby-dooby doo bah scoo scooby-dooby dooby-dooby

don't you think? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498129)

Can't we just all agree that Tom's Hardware is a good site that should be read regularly? Do we really have to post a link here for nearly every story that goes up there?

Re:don't you think? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498184)

Can't we just all agree that Tom's Hardware is a good site that should be read regularly?

THG readers' mantra:
"Why's the server so slow today? Ah, darn, Slashdot again". :)

Re:don't you think? (2, Interesting)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498356)

it "should be read regularly" if you like pseudotechnical hogwash, incestuous relationships between advertisers and content providers, and meaningless benchmark data.

I know I'll get modded down for this...even slashdot isn't immune from morons who think they know something about computers because they can build one...if you need a support group for people who spend insane amounts of money to make their quake3 framerate go up, then by all means, go visit Tom.

Any article that has a flaming PSU is good. (4, Insightful)

Prince_Ali (614163) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498136)

I hope a few of those people who pay $400 for the latest and greatest video card and $15 for a power supply read this.

Any article that has a flaming PSU is good.-BOOM! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498256)

I assume it's true that when a PSU goes, it can take the major components with it? All the more reason to get a good power supply.

Re:Any article that has a flaming PSU is good. (1)

toomz (175524) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498524)

I tried to take that wise advice but the article appears to be slashdotted (odd that).

On a related note my motherboard has an ALi M1647 chipset, the AGP features of which NVIDIA disables by default. [aliusa.com] You can imagine how much use I've gotten out of such a stable system (read: none) It might be a blessing if my PSU decided to consume the rest of the system in a ball of flame.

Fireworks (4, Funny)

RobPiano (471698) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498140)

I had my computer for 3 years. Never once had a problem with it. My dad decided to install extra memory on it. It literally caught on fire.

I know you're thinking novice... But he's a software engineer, and has worked with a computer since the transitor moving days.

Lesson to be learned:
Buy cheap powersupplies, and give them to your eniemes as presents.

Rob(ert) #3

Re:Fireworks (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498252)


I know you're thinking novice... But he's a software engineer


You learned the wrong lesson.

Lesson to be learned:
Never, Never, Never let a software engineer touch the hardware.

Re:Fireworks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498401)

He probably put inserted it upside down, nice job!

Re:Fireworks (5, Funny)

ngoy (551435) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498405)

Since I am from the old school of computing technology (where off is actually off, none of this soft-on/off crap) it surprised me when I was putting in some dimms into a friend's HP that the RAM slots were powered for some reason (no, it was not in sleep mode). I pushed on the dimm and suddenly saw a bright point of light and little puff of smoke. I yanked the dimm out, only to find that one of the gold traces on the dim got so hot it melted the epoxy (or whatever holds it onto the pcb) that held it on and soldered itself to the dimm slot on the pc. So I ended up using a twice as large dimm in the other slot.

Moral of the story is unplug the power cable (we all do that don't we). Nothing gets your heart going like electricity! Like the time I was putting in a gable fan in my attic and cut a live wire with my T-Cutter's. THAT was a bigger spark, and burnt a nice big hole in the cutters. At least I got to exchange them at Home Depot

ngoy
(I'm still alive! Darwin ain't got nothin' on me!)

Re:Fireworks (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498479)

One leaves the computer plugged in for the ground. Unplugged, you won't get electrocuted, but the box won't be grounded either. You have to pick one, or find another way of grounding the box (which realy isn't that hard).

Re:Fireworks (2)

TheOnlyCoolTim (264997) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498502)

That's the one thing I like about when I occasionally work on old AT computers. The damn power supplies go ON and OFF when you want them to, none of this crap with the power button connected to the motherboard and holding it for 6 seconds to make it turn off.

Tim

Re:Fireworks (5, Informative)

Neon Spiral Injector (21234) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498539)

Yeah, the new ATX specs have power going to the board as long as the cord is in the wall. I was from the AT crowd too, I had actually been taught that a power supply plugged into a grounded socket was a good thing to leave when working inside the computer.

Luckly my surprise with the new ATX stuff wasn't as bad, I just had a machine power up when inserting a video card. No damage done.

To keep this a bit more on topic too, most good power supplies have a hard switch (as opposed to the soft one that the ATX power button triggers) on the back that will keep all current out of the motherboard.

sparkle power supplies (5, Informative)

mackstann (586043) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498141)

i use sparkle power supplies. they are second only to pc power & cooling, and they dont cost an arm and a leg (pcp&c do!)

i buy them at newegg [newegg.com] . highly recommended.

Re:sparkle power supplies (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498230)

That's MR. Sparkle to you. He's disrespectful to dirt! Can you see I am serious?

Re:sparkle power supplies (4, Funny)

Stephen Maturin (530754) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498273)

Whatever you say, fishbulb....

Re:sparkle power supplies (5, Informative)

NetFu (155538) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498269)

I'm sorry, but I work for the number one power supply distributor in the USA (we're not a direct reseller, though) and Sparkle power supplies are the BIGGEST pieces of sh*t I've ever had the misfortune of touching. They are extremely prone to failure -- as high as 10-25% out of the 20-25 we've bought for I.T. use (I'm the Director of I.S.) and we have lots of manufacturers who replace failed Sparkle power supplies with others that we sell.

Yes, they're cheap, BUT you'd better buy two for every machine you use them in (one for backup) just to save you the trip to your local Fry's (or whatever your local computer hardware reseller is) for a replacement WHEN it fails.

And to top it all off, most Chinese power supply companies (like Sparkle) feel that 10-20% failure rates are ACCEPTABLE! This is in an industry where a 1% failure rate usually sends the engineers back to the drawing boards. Sparkle Power is a huge joke in our industry...

Re:sparkle power supplies (2, Informative)

Chad Page (20225) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498300)

You've never dealt with Deer (aka L&C, Allied, etc), have you? I've seen Deers destroy motherboards when they go.

Re:sparkle power supplies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498484)

And beers are prone to eat motherboards as well. Never leave your computer in the wood.

Re:sparkle power supplies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498543)

And beers are prone to eat motherboards as well.

I don't know what kind of beer you drink, buddy, but I'd suggest another brand...

Re:sparkle power supplies (1)

mackstann (586043) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498315)

i wont argue with your experiences, but certain hardware tends to gain a reputation on hardware message boards and whatnot, and everytime i see sparkle mentioned, i see nothing but praise and recommendation. how could they have grown such a reputation if they supposedly fail so much?

and of course its only anecdotal but i've owned two so far and they worked great.

Re:sparkle power supplies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498489)

I have bought four, and none have failed for two years now. By your words, one has a good chance to be a bad one, but none of these computers have any real problems. (definately no power supply problems)

I think you have exaggerated your failure rate.

Re:sparkle power supplies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498535)

I think you need to study a statistics text.

Re:sparkle power supplies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498280)

I don't want my power supply to "sparkle", thanks. :-)

Is there any company called "Rock Solid Power Supplies Inc."?

Re:sparkle power supplies = fortron (1)

Chad Page (20225) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498283)


I use a 350W one with the same model # as the one THG tested. There are definitely different grades of sparkle, you can tell by comparing a current 300W and 350W model.

Re:sparkle power supplies (4, Informative)

Verteiron (224042) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498590)

I've had excellent luck with Antec PSUs. I've got the 420W one in my system with 5 IDE HDDs, 2 cd-roms and a zip drive. One of the things I really like about it is that it comes with two special extra connectors for fans. Any fan hooked up to them will be speed-regulated like the units internal exhaust fans. This can really make your whole system a lot quieter. Antec costs a little more than average, but they are constructed well and come with excellent documentation.

Hey shitfaces (-1)

Sir Bard (605512) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498154)

how about using a more green, pedal powered solution as seen here>/a>. [microsoft.com]

dead toms. (5, Funny)

lamp77 (147098) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498161)

Wow, we killed tomshardware, maybe his power supply went!

Good and QUIET! (5, Informative)

xanadu-xtroot.com (450073) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498162)

I bought this power supply [quietpcusa.com] about a year ago. Not only is it as quiet as they tout, it's been a real work horse for me. I have a Lian-Li case [lian-li.com] , all drive bays filled (from time to time, not constanly ALL hooked up, but...), this thing keeps on running.

I highly recomend checking these folks out. [quietpc.com]

Tom's Recommended/NOT-Recommended Power Supplies (2, Interesting)

plasticquart (75467) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498166)

I've been looking for a solid Power Supply review for a few days now. Thanks Tom.

From the article:

Fortron FSP, Verax and Herolchi

With its generous maximum output of 390 watts (at which point it powers down in an orderly fashion), the Verax FSP300-60ATV is an impressive performer. Thanks to its quiet fan, the Verax is practically inaudible in use. Also recommended is the Fortron FSP. This model achieved a maximum output of 450 watts - and it was quiet. The Herolchi HEC-300LR-PT was one of the least expensive units in our test. Despite its low price of about $50, this 300-watt power supply performed well. It also addressed safety issues adequately with a built-in safety cutout.

For those looking for a more readily available solution, we recommend the Antec True Power 380P. Antec has done a good job in making their products available from a variety of sources including many local retailers. Chances are that you will have no problems being able to find the Ture Power 380P. The True Power 380P offers a good balance of performance for the money, but expect to pay a little more for this unit, but you will get excellent packaging and a manual that is ahead of the others.

To sum up: More support for consumers

Our comparative power supply test indicates, beyond question, that some manufacturers need to make serious quality and accuracy improvements in the information provided with their products and with the performance statistics claimed in order to make these products perform as represented. Time and time again, our lab measurements were unable to verify the output figures represented on the model identification sticker. And how, exactly, is a computer purchaser supposed to check the output of a power supply? This kind of feature marketing is not possible with other hardware components, such as processors or graphics chips, because the user can check for performance using benchmark-testing software.

Here are some of the salient facts from our lab test. The 520-watt rating of the Maxtron TOP520P4 was overly optimistic. In our test, it burned out well before this, when it reached a combined load of 446 watts. The Leadman LP-6100E also performed well below its manufacturer's specification; the specification claimed a 500-watt rating, but in practice it only delivered 426 watts. On the other hand, the power supplies from Conrad, TSP and Verax were able to provide stable voltages, even when stressed in excess of their specification. With a measured peak output of 454 watts, the Fortron FSP exceeded its specification by 23%. The 300-watt Verax was able to deliver an astonishing 390 watts.

We do not recommend the models we tested from Noise Magic, PC-World and Maxtron, as none of these models offer any safety overload protection (auto cutout) and their capacitors explode with an audible "bang!" well short of their maximum rated output.

There are a few surprises for the potential power supply customer in the area of price. With the exception of the SCS, retailing at approximately $30, all of the other test models retail for at least $50. The highest priced example is from Engelking, with its 300-watt model retailing at about $235.

Re:Tom's Recommended/NOT-Recommended Power Supplie (2, Funny)

MagPulse (316) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498325)

Thanks Tom! To show my appreciation, I'll post your copyrighted work on Slashdot so people don't give you any page views.

Copyright of all documents and scripts belonging to this site by Tom's Guides Publishing LLC 1996 - 2002. Most of the information contained on this site is copyrighted material. It is illegal to copy or redistribute this information in any way without the expressed written consent of Tom's Guides Publishing. This site is NOT responsible for any damage that the information on this site may cause to your system.

Re:Tom's Recommended/NOT-Recommended Power Supplie (2)

Blkdeath (530393) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498468)

Thanks Tom! To show my appreciation, I'll post your copyrighted work on Slashdot so people don't give you any page views.
Since they're already quite sufficiently Slashdotted, I'd say we've given them more than enough page views.

I plan on visiting the site in a few hours to give it a critical read when I can actually click through to the next page.

Re:Tom's Recommended/NOT-Recommended Power Supplie (2, Informative)

Patersmith (512340) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498494)

We do not recommend the models we tested from Noise Magic, PC-World and Maxtron, as none of these models offer any safety overload protection (auto cutout) and their capacitors explode with an audible "bang!" well short of their maximum rated output.

I don't know if this is the case with these power supplies or not, but some transformers are loaded to go "bang!" when they exceed tolerances so that they don't melt and fuse shut and start a fire.

Priorities... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498182)

Nuclear bomb lands on Iraq: rejected.
Tom's Hardware Guide release review of their favourite mousepads: accepted.

Re:Priorities... (1, Offtopic)

u19925 (613350) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498229)

You don't know priorities of nerds and geeks. What are you doing on slashdot?

Marketing lessons from audio amps? (5, Funny)

Rob Parkhill (1444) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498186)

It sounds as if power supply makers are taking a marketing lesson from audio amplifier companies... bigger is better, and no-one ever actually verifies those numbers.

My favorite was a $25 amp car audio amp I bought about 10 years ago. I kid you not, this thing is about 2x the size of a deck of cards, and is rated at 500W per channel. Ha ha ha ha! No, I didn't buy it for it's amazing power, I bought it because it was $25 and I needed a cheap amp for some tinkering!

Non-custom built power supplies poor? (5, Interesting)

ohboy-sleep (601567) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498189)

Users who stand to fare the worst are those who have purchased their computer from a computer super store and/or discount retailer. These systems are generally fitted with cheaply made, low-cost power supplies, which often can sustain damage even under minimal loads.

I realize that me and the half of my friends and family that are not hardware-savvy only make up a small sampling. But none of the people that I know that have bought pre-built machines have had a problem with power supplies. Whereas at work, where my office is filled with machines constructed from the parts of other machines, we've had two instances of power supply failure.

Of course the machines at the office are older and are used more often than the home-based ones, but I figured I'd put in my 2 cents.

Re:Non-custom built power supplies poor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498341)

> I figured I'd put in my 2 cents.

I'm sorry, but that was, at best, one cent.

Re:Non-custom built power supplies poor? (3, Informative)

Kevin Stevens (227724) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498463)

Well I think this comes back to the fact that most people only use their machine to surf the web and read email. I think it is a fair guess that most of these people have onboard video or an otherwise anemic card, along with a 5400rpm HD, etc. Also, unlike business machines which are usually on 24 hours a day for their entire lifespans, I would say most home computers are not on as much and maybe more importantly- recieve less use as they get older and get relegated as a secondary machine in a house. I would say very few home machines get used for much more than word, websurfing and file sharing nowadays, which is a breeze for todays, yesterday's and even two years ago processors. This is a bit of a stretch, but I worked for a company that regularly made use of upgrades to extend the life of a machine... adding second disk drives, upgrading the processor, ram, etc... but of course never even thinking about upgrading the PS. I can not say how prevalent this is in other companies, but if it is, that could be another reason the PS's are overloaded and thus fail.

grrr (1)

Seor Pelo (323921) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498195)

Had to find this out on my own a while ago. I though my motherboard was bad... now it's in pieces, the largest being in a dump somewhere. Whodathunkit? We didn't get a review of this problem before it came out. I'm so disappointed...

Missing Test Equipment (5, Insightful)

CMiYC (6473) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498197)

I don't think these were fair tests. I would have liked to seen some oscilloscope measurements of what the voltages/waveforms looked like under full load. Being that we expect our DC power supply to delivery a DC voltage, even a novice can tell a "bad" output from a "good" output. Take two power supplies for example. A 300W and a 500W supply. (For numbers sake, let's say they only deliver 5V to the load. No +12v, -12v, etc). If I max load the 300W supply and it is delivering a clean 5volts, that's a great supply. But if the 500W supply is spiking or has considerable noise with a 300W load, who cares if it runs up to 500W?

To me that's almost more important than if the supply shuts itself down or not. Which, by the way, is still a nice FEATURE.

BTW: Definition of Noise (2)

CMiYC (6473) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498225)

By noise, I mean noise on the supply line. Ripples, Spikes, dropouts, etc. Not, "how loud is the fan."

Re:Missing Test Equipment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498376)

Agreed. That was the first thing I went looking for. I didn't find it. :(

Those numbers and pictures are very important for protection of your investment in electronics.

Re:Missing Test Equipment (1)

EnVisiCrypt (178985) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498465)

"Ask /. Is The Lazy Man's Version of Usenet and Google"

Asking the librarian is the lazy man's card catalogue. It's all about context. Usenet's not very good about that, and Google can be like drinking from a firehose, often with inaccurate data (not google's fault). People come to ask slashdot to get good contextual advice firsthand. Instead, they get elitist punks who never had to learn things. They sprung from the womb and began coding.

"didn't you read the man pages while your mom was gestating? Please. Ask google."

Nice point about noise, by the way.

You get what you pay for (5, Insightful)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498198)

This applies particularly to power supplies. Sure, CPUs and memory, but the prices aren't nearly as fixed as they are for power supplies. Really, with power supplies, the price range doesn't vary much and the good ones tend to cost (though there are some decent ones for decent prices).

Before I came to my company, they bought a bunch of no-name PCs. There must have been a motherboard flaw that caused them to burn out power supplies and they kept replacing them with cheap supplies which couldn't handle whatever the motherboard was doing, and they would burn out too. Out of about 8 machines, I think we went through 14 power supplies in two years.

You'd always hear, "What's that burning smell?" "Did you check the back of your machine? I think that's smoke from your power supply."

I ALWAYS get a decent supply and have NEVER had problems, even when I lived in Mexico and had pretty questionable electricity.

Useful Related Link... (5, Informative)

TheGreenGoogler (618700) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498201)

Over at "The PC Guide," there is a comprehensive look at issues related to the output power capacity and ratings of power supplies. I found it to be very informative... The link can be found here... [pcguide.com]

Power supplies rule ! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498205)

Without power your computer wouldn't run !

Antec Power Supply (5, Informative)

delta407 (518868) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498212)

I recently bought a 430-watt Antec power supply [antec-inc.com] , and it is a beast. It has two temperature-sensitive fans, gold plated connectors, and weighs about four or five times more than the one it was replacing. It was well worth the money, especially given the system it powers -- two CPUs, a GeForce 4 Ti, two optical drives, and a handful of modern hard disks.

On the plus side, my system is more stable, runs cooler, and is quieter than it was before. I greatly favor my premium power supply over the one that came with my case, and I strongly recommend anyone with a downed PSU to pay the extra dollar.

Re:Antec Power Supply (4, Interesting)

Neon Spiral Injector (21234) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498340)

I was wondering why Tom didn't review any Antec PSes. That is all I use these days, and have been very happy with them.

Not only do they have varible speed fans in them, but they have a 2 wire lead to run 3 case fans (I only have 2) at varible speed.

With the front fans of the Lian-Li case that blow over the hard drives that are variable on their own, my machine is pretty quiet when doing nothing, but comes up to a nice wurr when compiling the newest glibc with "make -j2" (yes, I know it isn't parallel safe, but you only have to do it twice to catch the one file that hangs things up).

Re:Antec Power Supply (3, Informative)

skeedlelee (610319) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498536)

Actually they did review one Antec powersupply (the True380 I think). It came in just behind the leaders, though not for any reason I could tell from their spec's. Seems to have performed at manufavctures specification and was reasonably quite. Maybe they didn't think it was quite as good a deal. It was nice to see one of the readily availible brands come in near the top though.

Actually, I was curious, if you're using a lot of Antec supplies could you tell me what the practical difference, if any, is between Antec's True power supply line and their Sl line? Is it just that the tolerances on the voltages are a little tighter?

Re:Antec Power Supply (3, Informative)

Neon Spiral Injector (21234) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498579)

I believe that the SLs don't have ATX12V and the Trues do. Since I deal mostly with dual CPU motherboards the ATX12V is what I need.

The TruePower series also have "bling-bling gold grills" as my co-worker put it.

Re:Antec Power Supply (3)

Dr. Manhattan (29720) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498359)

Just a couple weeks ago I finally got the money together and stuck an Antec 300W power supply in my machine (ASUS P5A, K6-II/500, Geforce 2 MX400, etc., etc.). It had been unstable ever since I put in the Geforce, in both Linux and Windows. Unplugging a couple of peripherals (a CD-RW and a floppy drive) seemed to help.

Since the 300W one went in (replacing an old 235W) it's been rock solid, even with the CDRW and floppy reattached. Now if I only had time to play games...

Re:Antec Power Supply (3)

jpaz (512242) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498375)

I've been a big fan of Antec. Never had one of their power supplies go bad. Very reliable.

Side note: I'm also a big fan of Antec's computer cases. High quality, sturdy, well designed. Antec's cases also have Antec's power supplies. You can't go wrong with Antec.

I'm not employed by Antec, but simply a satisfied customer.

Re:Antec Power Supply (3)

wilburdg (178573) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498475)

I also recently purchased an antec power supply.

I purchased the SL350 [antec-inc.com] power supply, from their solution series.

For a little less money than the True series, it has dual temperature sensitive fans, with plenty of power for a fully loaded system, yet runs quietly.

I payed about $50 for it from googlegear, and I have been very impressed with the noise/heat/performance.

Can we get a big "Don't try this at home" (1, Flamebait)

vasqzr (619165) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498228)

I've been shocked/burned countless times goofing with PC's. Electricity is dangerous! If you don't know what you're doing, you could get hurt/killed.

shut up fairy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498287)

i eat your lunch for breakfast

Power error? (5, Funny)

mikers (137971) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498234)

Inadequate and Deceptive Product Labeling:
Comparison of 21 Power Supplies

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Full Load and Overload - Power Supply Units Pushed to the Limits


Hehe...

oh yeah! (1)

NWT (540003) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498240)

Inadequate and Deceptive Product Labeling: Comparison of 21 ... WEBSERVERS? :P

Seems quite slashdotted.

Good article, wish I could have written it! (4, Interesting)

Arcturax (454188) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498250)

I bet it was so much fun, they do reviews like this a lot more often. I know I would if I got paid to try to blow something up.

I remember blowing a power supply on an Apple IIe once as I turned it on. Scared the shit out of me too! Since then I've never had any more trouble with the supplies in Apple's Macintosh computers (which weren't reviewed here, but seem fairly solid nonetheless). I did once get a nice big fucking jolt off of one of their monitors though, numbed my right arm to the elbow and left my right side sore for a couple days from the violent muscle spasm it caused. Had it been my left arm, I probably wouldn't be typing this right now...

Tomshardware (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498267)

A single floppy connector, as supplied by Engelking and Coba, is not enough. You will need at least two of these.

Haven't given them a thought in over a year. All their "reviews" tend to shine highly on the products that fit "their" personal views. I mean jesus, any place that thinks you should have 2 (two) floppy drive power connectors is a little behind the times. Most people don't even use 1 floppy, let alone 2. And for all you people who weren't aware, a reviewer is supposed to enter a situation unbiased. Tom's hasn't started a review unbiased in easily 2 years.

bloodsucking corporate scum (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498270)

1. Compare power supplies
2. [..]
3. [..]
4. Jump over a table
5. [..]
6. PROFIT

Enermax - only "satisfactory" rating... wtf? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498274)

I use a lot of Enermax psu's in the machines I build, mostly > 400W units. I find them to be very well made, quiet, and robust. I don't understand why Tom only gave them a "satisfactory" rating and not good or excellent. I also use a lot of the Antec "TrueXXX" series psu's and generally consider the Enermax units to be equal or in some models, slightly more premium than the comparable Antec unit.

Re:Enermax - only "satisfactory" rating... wtf? (3, Interesting)

og_sh0x (520297) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498434)

I was also puzzled with their rating of Enermax. When you look at their individual ratings, the Enermax power supply scored in the middle of the pack in all tests except noise, where it scored slightly high (as in too much noise.) They also mentioned that Enermax's power supplies come with a variable fan speed control which does help with the noise. Why, then, did the Enermax power supply score rock bottom overall except for the three power supplies that burned out? Especially since the factor that was their number 1 complaint, the power supply meeting the manufacturer's spec, was exceeded by the Enermax power supply?

Re:Enermax - only "satisfactory" rating... wtf? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498439)

If you bothered to look through the stats you would see the Enermax took the middle to low road on all scores.

Not to say that means it's a bad supply. I have plently of mediocre supplies that work well enough. Although I do worry about some on them in my servers (I plan to switch them out for Antec at some point).

Re:Enermax - only "satisfactory" rating... wtf? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498555)

Also of note if you check the actual psu from enermax they tested the 350 watt model not the higher end 400+ ones. Considering i just bought the 430 watt one with the dual fans i was hoping for better test results started seeing the low scores on the enermaxs then saw the low watt rating of the model they tested

Overclocking? (1)

DrugCheese (266151) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498320)

When's someone going to come out with a good overclocking article for power supplies? I've jumped my 350 watt up to 650 and DAMN does my machine cook! And modding, I've modded my entire power supply with different colored wires and a 'trippy' lookin fan.

:| Of course I'm joking

No PC Power and Cooling? (5, Insightful)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498327)

The only decent third-party manufacturer of power supplies that I (and I presume most people) have every heard of is PC Power and Cooling [pcpowercooling.com] . It doesn't appear that this article covers any of their products. Am I missing something?

Re:No PC Power and Cooling? (2)

Gogo Dodo (129808) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498389)

Nope, didn't miss anything. PC Power and Cooling wasn't represented in the review.

I have one of their PSUs and three of their Silencer fans in my PC. Works great and is very quiet. Sure, they're more expensive, but I'd rather pay for high quality instead of a burned out PC.

Re:No PC Power and Cooling? (2, Informative)

?erosion (62476) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498531)

Not everyone is so sweet on PCP&C as you would expect. I personally just had one of theirs murder my KT7A-RAID, along with all 3 DIMMS that were installed. I'm just glad the proc, cards, and drive all lived. Along with a couple of other bad experiences, my $250 upgrade is up to about $600 now. At least I may be able to get a refund, but we'll see. I've got an RMA and I'm shipping it today.

I was wary of even using it in the first place, and there're two things I didn't like. There was no switch, and there was no vent on the bottom. I know a switch isn't technically necessary, but I really like the idea of switching off my PSU and leaving it plugged in while I tinker (grounding...). And the vent is kind of important, since the proc sits right under it...

And yes, I took all due precaution, and no, there is no obvious indicator that it is for a Dell (which are wired differently). Try a Google groups search for more experiences. No link, no time. Sorry.

Re:No PC Power and Cooling? (3, Insightful)

mackstann (586043) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498437)

you are not missing anything, unfortunately.

this review is pretty lame IMO, they failed to review: both sparkle and pc power & cooling, probably two of the highest regarded names in power supplies, while at the same time they reviewed such no-name junk as "engelking", "coba", "channel well", "scs", "task", and "levicom".

and the summary is also quite worthless. basically they recommend 3 no-name brands as the "winners", no one is going to buy these due to availability and/or fear of no-name brands, while THG also recommends antec psu's to those who cannot find the others, which is also stupid because people already buy antecs in droves.

also we have the issue of rebranding. many power supplies on the market are simply rebranded no-name power supplies, how do we know that just because one "herolchi" power supply tested well, all others will also be top quality? the different herolchi models could be from completely different manufacturers!

Re:No PC Power and Cooling? (2, Informative)

Tailhook (98486) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498497)

Good question. My "came with the case" Antec PSU died and I replaced it with a PCP&C unit, 450W. The machine is dual P3, .5GB RAM, dual HDDs, SCSI, GForce, etc. Uses its share of power.

The most useful part of the Tom's Hardware writeup is the breakdown of estimated power consumption for a "high end" machine. Based on that, I figure the 450W part I have is just a bit over the necessary capacity. Maybe 15% or so, assuming the rating is accurate.

Anyhow, like you, I was disappointed to see Tom skip PCP&C in a rare PSU test. Sometimes I wonder a lot about Tom's. The AMD bias is obvious to me. OTOH, it's possible PCP&C wouldn't play ball and submit units for testing. Not unheard of. It's an American company, possibly with enough lawyers employed to govern a State.

Only one of each tested (5, Insightful)

f97tosc (578893) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498330)

That is not a very large sample. I wonder how much specs vary between individual units of the same make and model.

In particular, it would not surprise me if there are unit-to-unit variations in noise and the power at which they give up.

Tor

often overlooked... (4, Informative)

jaredcoleman (616268) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498331)

The #1 reason that I have seen for hardware failure was that the PS fan had stopped working and no one noticed. Most PC's (bought or built) are designed to pull air in the front of the machine because of the vaccuum created by the PS exhaust fan. No air flow = stagnant hot air = hot heatsinks = hot chips = CRASH. This is a very important component that is often overlooked.

Re:often overlooked... (1)

cc_pirate (82470) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498526)

Why did no one notice? If the PS doesn't provide a way to tell the fan stopped working, then it SUCKS!!



It needs some sort of user indicator! In our systems, if the fan stopped, a system light indicated it.



Or you could use an auditory tone or something. And unfortunately most PS suck and don't have anything. And if the PS itself doesn't fail, a bearing in the PS fan does and the thing winds up sounding like a LAWNMOWER!!!



I've had more PS failures on my PCs than any other single component. They are cheap pieces of crap in most cases.



The PS MTBF is ALMOST ALWAYS THE LOWEST IN ANY COMPUTER SYSTEM. It makes building a reliable system very difficult when one can't find a fairly cheap PS that has an MTBF much more than 50,000hrs.

PSU Fans versus CPU Fans (3, Interesting)

Hayzeus (596826) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498354)

On a slightly unrelated note, I've noticed that I've continually had problems with CPU fans (usually of the cheaper variety) dying a fairly early death. However, even on the cheapest of PSUs this has never been an issue for me. Does this jibe with anyone else's experience? If so, why might this be the case? Does the smaller CPU fan size somehow increase the expense of providing decent bearings?

Re:PSU Fans versus CPU Fans (1)

Adrenochrome (555529) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498528)

Oddly enough, the fan in my power supply finally quit on Friday (I'd known it was getting noisier for a while...) The power supply released it's magic smoke a couple minutes later. Buy yes, over the years I've seen far more CPU fans fail than PS fans. I miss the good old days where all you needed t osolve heat problems was a fresh dab of thermal compound on your 6510 and little extra bend on the aluminum heat tabs.

NO SPECS for boards, no overload indicators... (5, Interesting)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498370)

Something I've been ranting about for years: It's not just that power supplies are rated in "music watts." It's also that basic engineering apparently went out the window when micros came in--and has never come back.

Why isn't every board and component clearly marked with its power consumption?

Why isn't every system clearly marked with the amount of power available to devices on the bus (power supply minus consumption of preinstalled components?)

Why isn't there some kind of built-in INDICATOR that WARNS you when the drain is approaching the power supply capability?

None of this is rocket science. It requires fourth grade arithmetic, a multimeter, and a little honesty.

On minicomputers, the power supply was sized for the worst-case set of boards that could be installed in it. That's probably too much to expect from PC vendors, but at the very least there should be an easy way to TELL.

"This is a real good power supply and it should be OK unless you put in an awful lot of boards that take a lot of power" just isn't the way to do things.

We expect this stuff to be clearly marked on our light bulbs, our vacuum cleaners, and our fuse boxes. Why shouldn't we expect it in our computers?

How much power (2)

nuggz (69912) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498537)

Yes, does anyone know of a way to determine what your power needs are?

Why buy a beast of a 500W supply if all you're using is 300W, much better to invest it in a quality 300W.

BUY MY TRANS AM _ NIGGER CORVETTE (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4498380)

1999 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am Coupe 2D Engine: V8 5.7 Liter Trans: 6 Speed Manual Drive: Rear Wheel Drive Mileage: 40,000 Equipment Ram Air Handling Pkg,Air Conditioning,Power Steering,Power Windows,Power Door Locks,Tilt Wheel Cruise Control,AM/FM Stereo,Single Compact Disc Premium Sound,Dual Front Air Bags,ABS (4-Wheel) Leather,Power Seat,T-Bar Roof,Alloy Wheels Consumer Rated Condition: Excellent "Excellent" condition means that the vehicle looks great, is in excellent mechanical condition and needs no reconditioning. It should pass a smog inspection. The engine compartment should be clean, with no fluid leaks. The paint is glossy and the body and interior are free of any wear or visible defects. There is no rust. The tires are the proper size and match and are new or nearly new. A clean title history is assumed. This is an exceptional vehicle. Private Party Value $19,375 Private Party value represents what you might expect to pay for a used car when purchasing from a private party. It may also represent the value you might expect to receive when selling your own used car to another private party.

Dual PSU's (4, Interesting)

twoslice (457793) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498399)

Actually, I wish more case designs supported dual PSU's as the power supplies these days are relatively cheap and I could use the redundancy and extra oumph.

Re:Dual PSU's (1)

Big_Breaker (190457) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498498)

I'd rather have one good one or two good ones. Two cheap PSUs would have double the risk of breakdown. Why? because if one goes the other surely would.

Spend $130 on a nice 650 watt Enermax if you are worried.

How good is Enlight? (2, Insightful)

antdude (79039) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498416)

How is Enlight power supply unit (340 watts) in a gaming and workstation machine? I know they're a bit loud, but how's the performance and reliability?

PS Diagonistics? (4, Insightful)

Masem (1171) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498417)

I'm surprised that in this day and age, where your power supply is becoming one of the more critical components to keep track of (along with the CPU and GPU temperatures), that there's yet to be a way to monitor the performance of the PS with hardware/software monitors, short of wiring your own. That is, just like you can monitor temperatures and fan speeds with most modern mobos, the power supply is completely independant of this. Yes, it would require some standardization of how that info is sent and a plug on the mobo (most likely situated near where most USB/KB/M cutouts are as to avoid a 20ft wire to get it to the northbridge site), but it would seem to me to be really useful information to determine the PS health beyond the current hope-n-pray methods...

I think.... (2, Funny)

crumbz (41803) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498460)

....Tom's Hardware is on fire...slashdotted already :)

Could have done better... (4, Insightful)

KC7GR (473279) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498483)

For my part, I would have liked to have seen THG use a true electronic load for their testing. Something from Transistor Devices [tdi.com] 'Dynaload' line would, I think, have been a much more accurate (if more expensive) choice than a box full of power resistors.

They should also have used a good O-scope to take a look at the power output waveforms while under load. I've seen a number of cases where a switching supply will look perfectly clean under low-to-medium loads, and then start to spike and freak out under higher loads. 'Tis a nasty thing to behold, and it can cause problems that can drive techs who don't know what to look for absolutely batty.

Also, others have mentioned that PC Power and Cooling was left out of the review for reasons unknown. I would guess that it was price. If so, all I can say is "How highly do you value your hardware?"

Clean and adequate power is the ONE factor that can cause more woes than any other. You can have the slickest quad-processor-super-Linux-cluster-RAID-whatever on the planet, and it won't do you one whit of good if you've got dirty power feeding it.

SuperMicro? (0)

IcephishCR (7031) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498532)

Hello? Why didn't he review the wonderful offerings from supermicro, I have one of their very nice 400W, and we use them exclusively at our shop, can't kill 'em. Weigh a ton and are fairly expensive ($150) but well worth it.

oh please! (2)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 11 years ago | (#4498542)

A PSU comparison that doesn't include something from PC Power & Cooling is about as ridiculous as an ATA RAID comparison that doesn't include something from 3ware.

Oh...wait. *sigh*
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