Show Shopping Cart
Register
Help | Index
New | Specials
Clearance Sale
pad
 Accessories & Tools
 Cables & Adapters
 Cases & Fans
 Cases-Small Footprint
 Cases-Mods & Lights
 CD, DVD, FD & Storage
 Cooling, Watercooling
 CPUs & Overclocking
 Gaming Gear, Games
 Hard Drive, Controller
 Keyboards, Mice, Input
 Laptops & Notebooks
 Memory, USB Drives
 Modems & Low Profile
 Monitors, LCD & KVM
 Motherboards, RAID
 Network & Wireless
 Power Supplies, UPS
 Printers, Scanners
 Quiet PC, Parts for
 Servers, SCSI, Blade
 Software & Training
 Sound, Speakers, MP3
 Systems, Desktop, PDA
 Video Cards, Camera
pad
Policies | Feedback
Discounts | Services
Resources | Support
Community | News
Contact Us
Info | FAQs
Up

Deal of the DayĽ
*Free UPS Ground* Sapphire Radeon X800GTO2 FireBlade Edition PCI-E Video Card, 256MB Model: 100130. Brown box
*Free UPS Ground* Sapphire Radeon X800GTO2 FireBlade Edi... Only $264.99
Featured ProductsĽ
Silver NEC ND-3540A 16x DVD Double Layer Burner, DVD+/-RW, OEM
Silver NEC ND-3540A 16x DVD Double Layer Burner, DVD+/-R... Only $39.99
Crazy PricesĽ
*Free UPS Ground* Silver Hitachi/LG 48x32x48x CD-RW, GCE... Only $15.00
Clearance SaleĽ
Used Pentium III 450MHz Desktop Computer System w/ DVD, ... Only $58.99
Earth Green Chieftec Matrix MX-01GND Entry Level Mid-tow... Only $39.99
Mirrored Super Flower SF-450TS 450W Silence P4 PS w/ 4 F... Only $29.99
pad
Enter keyword(s):
Home >> Cases & Fans  >> Related Sections >> Power Supplies, UPS >> 

pad

How to Choose Computer Power Supply?

Buy a Power Supply by the Pound

- A simple and easy way to estimate the quality of a PC power supply.

By Dr. Michael, Directron.com



Customer Reviews: " This is a good first step toward providing us end users something we can use. It would be nice if it were updated with brands you currently have and higher powers. " Click here for more reviews.

The following article is based on years of experience. It is provided as a free service to our customers and visitors. However, Directron.com is not responsible for any damage as a result of following any of this advice.

Copying the contents for commercial purposes is strictly prohibited without Directron.com's written consent. However, you are welcome to distribute these computer support tips free to your friends and associates as long as it's not for commercial purposes and you acknowledge the source. You are permitted and encouraged to create links to this page from your own web site.


A PC power supply is one of the most important components in a computer, yet it is often the least appreciated due to itís "low-tech nature". When a power supply is dead, your entire system is dead. A bad computer power supply could also cause other parts of your system to fail. As personal computers become ever more powerful, the importance of a reliable power supply is more than ever before.

Itís easy to tell if a PC power supply is working or not. However, until now it has been hard for a PC end-user to measure the quality and reliability of a power supply. Herein we attempt to document a very simple way to estimate the quality of a computer power supply by the weight. We measured the weights of 38 standard ATX power supplies of different wattages, models and manufacturers. The weight data were then correlated with the current price and wattage on the label. The findings are in agreement with the return rates and general experience we accumulated from many years of selling and servicing power supplies.

Equipment

The weight is measured by a digital scale with the accuracy of +/- 0.01 lb.

Results

Table 1 shows the models, wattage, net weights, and current prices (on 12-20-00) of 38 power supplies from 23 manufacturers. The weights were measured with a digital scale. The error margin was within +/- 0.1lb. The market prices of the products (as they were, not changed or adjusted for this study) were plotted as a function of the weight in Figure 1. The wattage of the power supplies was plotted as a function of the weight in Figure 2. The wattage data were what were shown on the power supply stickers.

Observations

Several observations can be made from the data:
  1. There is a large variation in the weight among the same wattage. For instance, among all the 300W power supplies, the weight ranged from 2.15 to 3.8lb, a 1.65lb difference. The lightest one is only 57% of the heaviest in weight. Among the 250W, the weight ranged from 1.7 to 3.1lb, a 1.4lb gap. The heaviest one is 82% heavier than the lightest one. Judging by these data, some of the good-quality 250W power supplies are clearly better than the poor-quality 300Wís. Therefore, donít be fooled by the wattage on the sticker.
  2. Generally, the Athlon-approved power supplies weigh more than the non-Athlon approved of the same wattage, confirming that Athlon-approved ones are of better quality. It's possible that manufacturers only submit better models for the AMD approval process.
  3. The name-brand power supplies typically weigh more than the less-known, generic brands of the same wattage.
  4. FCC approved power supplies often weigh more than those without FCC labels.
  5. Figure 1 clearly shows that the market price of the power supply is, to a degree, proportional to the weight, especially for items heavier than 2.25lb. The higher the weight, the higher the price tends to be. You pay for the pound! For power supplies weighing lower than 2.25lb (the blue dots), the correlation does not work well, suggesting either the existence of a minimum market value or some of these power supplies should be priced even lower (due to low quality).
  6. Figure 2 shows that the wattage of a good-quality power supply is, to a degree, proportional to the weight for the good-quality power supplies such as Athlon approved 250W's and 300W's. This diagram also shows that some of the low-weight power supplies (blue dots) most likely do not have the true wattage as labeled.
Why Weight Matters?

The more appropriate question is why size matters.

The weight of a power supply is directly related to the quantity, quality, and size of the material (thus cost) used to build the power supply. We opened a light and a heavy 300W-labeled power supplies. The heavy one has larger capacitors, thicker wires, larger transformer, larger heat sinks, more connectors, and more capacitors than the light one, all of which are important factors for the overall cost and quality of a power supply. The difference is illustrated below:



Conclusions

This brief study clearly confirms an empirical knowledge: the quality of a power supply can be estimated by its weight. While this is not a true scientific or thorough measurement of the power supply reliability, it is nevertheless a very simple and easy way for ordinary PC users to estimate and compare the quality of a power supply. Directron.com has pioneered this measurement and has now published the weights of all power supplies sold on Directron.comís web site.

Itís important for the end-users to know the quality of a power supply. The specs of power supplies are simply printed on stickers. Donít be fooled by them! The stickers can be easily removed and replaced. Even the manufacturers might place a 300W sticker on an otherwise 250W power supply. Once products are shipped it is quiet rare for any private or public entity to go back and verify the specs on the sticker. However, itís difficult, if not impossible, for a dishonest vendor to alter the weight of a power supply.

By no means is the weight the best way to measure the quality of a power supply. There are other factors one should consider in purchasing a power supply such as wattage, output, brand, price, noise level, and long-term stability. However, to most end-users, measuring the weight may be the only viable method that's widely available.

The large variation in the quality of power supplies with identical wattage rating suggests that an industry agency is needed to rate, confirm, and police the labeling of power supplies to protect the consumers.

Table 2. A guideline to classify the quality of a power supply by its weight (lb).
Low Quality Average Quality High Quality
250W 1.7-2.4 2.4-2.8 2.8-3.1
300W 2.1-2.7 2.7-3.2 3.3-3.8


Based on the above criteria and our general experience in return rates, these are consistently high quality brands on the market: EnerMax, Delta, PC Power & Cooling, Enhance, Antec, CWT, and SPI. These brands are consistently associated with low-eight models: L&C, Deer, Skyhawk, Star, KME, KingStar, and LCT. Our experience shows that the return rates of a low-weight power supply could be as high as twice of those of high-quality ones. How does your power supply measure up?

Physical Dimensions

Besides the specs and form factors, the physical dimensions are also important factors in selecting a compatible power supply. Here is an outline of the physical dimensions of most standard power supplies:

  • ATX: 6x3.5x5.5", HxWxD. Most common. Uses 4 mounting screws.
  • Mini-ATX: 5x3.5x5", HxWxD. Rare size. Uses 4 mounting screws. Can be used in a regular ATX case, but often not the other way around.
  • MicroATX: 5x3x4", HxWxD. Use 3 mounting screws. Not interchangeable with ATX or miniATX.
  • Flex ATX: Even smaller than Micro ATX. Various sizes according to case specs; often not interchangeable.

    Use the data above to determine if a particular power supply would fit your case.

    Notes: (1) Most case manufacturers do not make their own power supplies. They often use power supplies that are re-labeled as their brands. For instance, PowerMan brand from In-Win is made by SPI (same as FPS). One good way to identify the true manufacturer of a power supply is to look at the circuit board on which the manufacture name is often printed. (2) Power supplies are also heavily cross-branded. For instance, Enhance power supplies are branded as FKI and HP. (3) The largest power supply manufacturer is Delta since Delta makes power supplies for those large OEMs; however, Delta does not make power supplies for the distribution channels. (4) Itís possible that some power supply manufacturers produce two grades of the power supply for different market segments. An example is the CWT-300ATX (FCC approved) and ATX-300 (non-FCC), which are 0.6lb apart. (5) Other factors may also contribute to the weight differences, for instance, the number of power connectors and fans may vary from one to the other. However, such factors typically are in agreement with the trend. The heavier the better - assuming other conditions are the same. (6) It'd be nice to do a further study to correlate the weight of power supplies with their output performances. (7) The purpose of this article and study is not to promote or demote any particular brand or model, but to provide a subjective and factual results. (8) One may ask why some manufacturers choose to cut the corners to produce below-average power supplies. The main driving force is the demand for cost-reduction of a complete system in the reselling market. Nowadays, one can purchase an ATX case with power supply for less than $25, which can significantly reduce the price of a system for those consumers who may have never pronounced the phrase "power supply." (9) Most resellers who sell systems would not quote the brand of the power supply included in the system. If you buy computers instead of build your own, ask for the brand of the power supply.

    If you find this article useful, please create a link to it from your website or tell a friend about it. If you have any comments or suggestions about this article, please email information@directron.com

    Related Items: | How to Choose a Case? | FAQ - Cases | Glossary - Cases | Power Supplies |

    | Other "How to Choose" Tips | Microprocessor | Memory | Motherboard | Hard Drive |
    | Monitor | Video Card | Sound Card | Network | Case | Power Supply |
    | Go to Top | Home | Other Resources |

    Copyright 1997-2004 Directron.com/HCCI. All rights reserved



    A Good First Step - Sep 6, 2005
    Reviewer: Scott Allen Rauch
    This is a good first step toward providing us end users something we can use. It would be nice if it were updated with brands you currently have and higher powers.


    - - Jul 23, 2005
    Reviewer: -
    Informative and useful for the novice - excellent article. Well done!


    great page - Feb 24, 2005
    Reviewer: Paul
    Really helped in understanding which brands were trustworthy and the difference in pricing between similar products!!!!!!


    Power Supply - Nov 18, 2004
    Reviewer: Tgmac
    The report looked out dated and it was based on year 2000 info data. I think Directron needs an updated for this. This year 2004, I brought 3 cheapest 350 watts Atx and 2 expensive 450 watts Atx. The 350 watts had no problems but both 450 watts failed within one months. I found out 350 watts were cheap because of high volume production. I got both 450 watts replacement from later shipment and both are fine now. I cannot see price is an important factor these days and depending the way you shop. New electronic compotents are smaller and lighter nowadays and is not the other factor. The newer the product has the more problems to start with at the beginning. Reputable supplier is the important issue!


    insightful - Oct 7, 2004
    Reviewer: Barry
    i bought a cheap PSU with cool lights and now I'm regretting it. Don't skimp on the price of the PSU.


    GREAT INFO - Aug 12, 2004
    Reviewer: Atheria
    I looked all over the Internet for info that would help me make an educated decision when purchasing a replacement power supply. I'm replacing a low quality model that doesn't provide the correct amount of power that came with my PC. As Dr. Michael said at the end of the article, be aware, or beware, of what you are buying and ask about the power supply that comes with any system. I have had problems for years with my PC and the lack of sufficient power has damaged some of my components but the manufacturer doesn't care once the PC is sold. Thanks for the GREAT Info!

    Read More Customer Reviews

    Write New Reviews





    Part Number: Glos-WTpad


  • Please read our policy on posting reviews

    Email this page to a friend! Enter email address: View Top Referred Pages! - Advanced Referral Join our Newsletter to
    get Discount Coupons

    Shipping Policy Customer Services Payment Policy
  • Est. Shipping Cost
  • Time-in-Transit Map
  • FAQ - Shipping
  • Top Reasons for Delays
  • UPS, FedEx, Postal Office
  • Walk-in Sales
  • APO/FPO Shipping
  • International
  • Tracking Orders
  • Return Rates
  • Store Statistics
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Account Applications
  • Frequent Errors
  • FAQ-Services
  • FAQ-Tech Support
  • Newsletter
  • Order Status
  • Credit Card via Phone
  • Purchase Order
  • Prepay, PayPal
  • PC Resellers
  • Corporate / Business
  • Schools, Government
  • Terms & Conditions
  • Price & Tax
  • FAQ - Payment

  • Have a question about our products, services or technical issues?
    Find the answer instantly! Type your question or key words in English:
                
                 (Recommended for finding a product in our web store or FAQ pages).
                
                (Recommended for sales, tech-support, & CS questions).
                 Advanced Search in HelpDesk
    95% email/ phone questions already have answers on our web site.
    Please check the answer online before calling or e-mailing.

    Directron.NET- Help Desk Directron.ORG - Resources Short Cuts
  • Sales Support
  • Tech Support
  • Knowledge Base
  • Customer Service
  • Open Forums
  • How to Choose?
  • FAQs, Glossary
  • BYO
  • Installation
  • How to Upgrade?
  • Troubleshooting
  • Drivers
  • Top Sellers
  • New Products
  • Future Products
  • Quiet Computers
  • Water Cooling
  • Overclocking
  • Case Painting
  • Your Time:
    Copyright (c) 1997-2005 Directron.com, Inc., Houston, Texas
    Buy - Sell - Trade - Build - Repair - Upgrade - Help - Troubleshoot - Shopping
    Computers - Laptops - Servers - Hardware - Parts - Software - Peripherals - Services
    High Quality - Low Prices - Discount Shop - Large Selection - Free Stuff - Fast Shipping
    AxionTech.com - Prime Systems
    pad
    Top Articles
  • How to Install Front USB
  • Understanding System Memory and CPU Speeds - A layman's
  • P4 Readiness and Installation - A guide to the Pentium 4
  • What is 1.5V AGP and .8V AGP?
  • What is DVI? - A Guide to the Digital World
  • How to Upgrade and Install a Video Card
  • How to Build a Quiet PC? A Simple Guide
  • Steps to Assemble a System
  • The Mod Dictionary
  • Hot ProductsĽ
    ASUS Socket 478 Motherboard P4S8X-MX, SiS 661GX, 800FSB, DDR400, SATA RAID, w/ VGA, LAN, Audio, USB 2.0
    ASUS Socket 478 Motherboard P4S8X-MX, SiS 661GX, 800FSB,... Only $47.99
    Seagate 80GB ATA100 7200RPM Barracuda Hard Disk Drives, OEM
    Seagate 80GB ATA100 7200RPM Barracuda Hard Disk Drives, ... Only $56.99
    Logisys SP6006CL 2.1+1 Multimedia Clear Speaker w/ Blue LEDs, Retail box
    Logisys SP6006CL 2.1+1 Multimedia Clear Speaker w/ Blue ... Only $49.99
    *Free UPS Ground* Mushkin DDR2 533 (PC2 4200) Memory, 1GB (2x512MB), Dual Channel Kit, 240-Pin, non-ECC, 991361.
    *Free UPS Ground* Mushkin DDR2 533 (PC2 4200) Memory, 1G... Only $79.99
    CA eTrust EZ Antivirus 2005 Software, Version: r7, Model: ETRAV70OEM01M, Single User, OEM
    CA eTrust EZ Antivirus 2005 Software, Version: r7, Model... Only $9.99
    OCZ 1GB (512MB X 2) OCZ4001024PDC-K DDR PC3200 400MHz Premier Dual Channel
    OCZ 1GB (512MB X 2) OCZ4001024PDC-K DDR PC3200 400MHz Pr... Only $109.00
    Corsair Value Select Memory - 512MB DDR2 533 PC2-4200 240-Pin, Unbuffered, Model: VS512MB533D2
    Corsair Value Select Memory - 512MB DDR2 533 PC2-4200 24... Only $42.99
    PromotionsĽ
    Free ASUS T-shirt for >$149 Orders of any ASUS Products
    Free Nero Express CD-Burning Software for > $29.99 Order