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Power Supply Testing – pcG’s thoughts…

January 5th, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

Although pcGameware has been around for some time now (at the time of this article it’s almost 4 years!) we have deliberately held back from testing certain Gaming related products, one of these products is Power Supplies. The reason for this has been that we have never really had the equipment to allow us to test PSUs in a similar way to how the rest of the media tests!

The strange thing is that nothing has changed and I’m not going to tell you that we’ve invested a large sum of money into PSU testing equipment. 😉

Why? Well that’s because of two main reasons (and no it’s not because pcG James is a tight ass!), the first is that overtime PSUs have become so reliable that from a performance point of view they either really just work or they don’t. If you do see a failure it tends to be based upon time in use more than down to some voltage not being delivered within ATX parameters. This leads me on to my next point, which is that I’m not sure that we (as Gamers) are really that interested in a 45.9mVtt ripple on the 12v rail while the PSU was under 75% load! Especially, as from a Gamers point of view, what it actually means is that you’ll still be in Game and playing quite happily! 😉

FYI: An ATX Power Supply’s job is to deliver three voltages; 3.3v, 5v and 12v to your PC. Due to the ATX specifications these voltages are only allowed to fluctuate by a nominal amount (see image below). As you can see as long as your PSU stays within these parameters (and most modern ones do) then everything should be just fine. This doesn’t mean that I suggesting that we all go out and by Power Supplies at £19.99! On the contrary, investing in a good PSU is always money well spent as it’s likely to see you through many years and multiple upgrades. What it does mean is that I’m quietly confident that we don’t need to bore you with some of the science behind it all…

 
* Courtesy of Intel
IntelATXVoltageGuidelines
 

With this in mind we will begin to bring you Power Supply Reviews starting in 2015 and these reviews are really designed not to compete with some of the great PSU reviews out there, but to bolster them and help you make a better decision when buying. What we hope to do is focus more on the product itself, its desirability, it’s cabling, its real-world performance (through real-world testing) and maybe even its software.

In an attempt to give these PSUs at least a little bit of a workout all PSUs reviewed will be stress tested for one hour running both Unigine Heaven and Prime 95 (Blend) simultaneously to see if we can trip them up in any way. If we’re testing PSU’s over 750W we will also be performing this same test using a CrossFire setup (with x2 AMD R9 290X) in an attempt to further push the limits.

In addition to this we will also be taking a look at the efficiency of each PSU by taking a look at the power draw at the wall socket. This is where the 80 Plus initiative comes in that you have no doubt seen attached to various PSUs. With Ratings of 80 PLUS through to 80 PLUS Platinum (see table below for more detail).

FOR EXAMPLE:

A power supply that is actually using 400W to drive your PC components will be pulling approximately 500W at the wall socket if its efficiency is 80 PLUS.

A power supply that is actually using 400W to drive your PC components will be pulling approximately 450W at the wall socket if its efficiency is 80 PLUS Platinum.

 

* Courtesy of Wikipedia

80 Plus test type 115V internal non-redundant 230V internal redundant
Percentage of rated load 10% 20% 50% 100% 10% 20% 50% 100%
80 Plus 80% 80% 80%
80 Plus Bronze 82% 85% 82% 81% 85% 81%
80 Plus Silver 85% 88% 85% 85% 89% 85%
80 Plus Gold 87% 90% 87% 88% 92% 88%
80 Plus Platinum 90% 92% 89% 90% 94% 91%
80 Plus Titanium 90% 92% 94% 90% 90% 94% 96% 91%

 

Hopefully the information that you have found here has been useful, there’s obviously a myriad of information we could delve into regarding ATX Power Supplies but to be honest it’s something we’re actually trying to avoid… 😉

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