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Computer power supplies

This is a small piece of wisdom I learnt not too long ago concerning the power supplies of computers: you get what you paid for

I’m no electrician by far, and electrical terminology goes over my head. However, I’ve slowly started to learn more as I work with computers, more so the power supplies.

Manufacturers have gone to great lengths to hype supplies that have 500 or more watts of power. The packaging boxes are usually designed to scream this fact out to anyone looking at it. What they don’t say is that this is sometimes peak power, or is only rated to give that amount of power under very certain conditions.

About 2 years ago, I bought an el-cheapo 500w power supply for the computer I was building up. At the time, I just saw 500w, and I thought that I had to get this, as I was busy building a beast of a machine. The case had a 300w in that I had long since gotten rid of.

Now, this 500w model really looked solid, had plenty of pwer connectors, and was nice and heavy. The quality of the connectors was disproven when I put a hard drive in, and the top of the SATA connector broke off. 😦

To cut a long story short, I finished my computer, and was ready to power it on. That’s when the problems started. The multi plug strip I was using kept tripping our homes power supply. I thought it was drawing too much power but it wasn’t that as it turned out to be. My Geforce 8800GTX needs 30amps on a 12V rail, and the power supply barely gave that when both rails were combined. It also seemed unable to give my system a true 12v power source, as when I looked at stats in my motherboards BIOS, the 12v was reading 11 point something. I flashed my BIOS a few minutes later, and my computer wouldn’t start.

While not directly the power supply’s fault, I suspect that it damaged my board somehow. At that point I said no ways, not taking a chance here. I ordered a Corsair HX620W supply, which has worked like a charm, and then some. That is the best PSU I’ve ever seen or used. I plugged it into the same power strip, and I’ve had not one trip. So it appears something was wrong with the other one’s earthing or something.

At my work, whenever I look at the computers I built, I begin to understand how cheap some PSU makers are. If you read the labels on the unit, most are far less that the claimed rating, as it’s been “extended” to the rating. However, the computers they are supplying are not drawing heavy current, so it’s not the end of the world.

In short, I’m trying to say that if you buy, build or upgrade a computer, don’t cut corners on the power supply. It can make the world of difference. It, like the monitor, usually gets skimped on, yet these 2 are the most vital parts of a computer.

Categories: Computer Hardware
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