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Power Supply Group Test 2005

Back in February this year we did our first PSU group test and it was hugely popular – so here we are with a slightly smaller follow up to see what the latest generation of power supplies have to offer. This time round we are glad to welcome a few new names as well as some established ones that we missed out last time.

With high-end graphics cards and SLI becoming increasingly popular and dual-core processors moving in to the home market it is more important than ever to have a good quality PSU inside your computer. For example, nVidia has once again bumped the PSU requirements for SLI with the 7800GTX and 7800GT to no less than 500W. However, in practice though you don’t need that much as Evesham proved with the Axis 64 Decimator 78 which managed just fine with a 420W power supply. This is of course dependant on how much other power draining hardware you have in your PC, but you’re far better off having a good quality 450W PSU rather than a cheap 600W PSU.

That’s not to say that cheap is always bad, as you’ll see from the SilverPower PSU in this group test. Those hoping our testing went of with a literal bang will be disappointed to learn that we had far fewer mishaps than last time, with only one of the 12 PSUs on test failing and it didn’t even give out with a bang.

Our testing was similar to our last group test, so if you'd like to know more you can read about it here. The only differnce this time was that we had the opportunity to use some new test equipment as well. You might have noticed a small sticker on some electrical equipment that is labelled Hi-POT. What this means is that the power supply has been tested with a high voltage static discharge. To pass the Hi-POT test requires that the power supply doesn’t pass the static charge on to the device(s) it’s powering, as this could potentially cause damage. This is especially important when it comes to computer components, which are very sensitive to electrostatic discharges.

All of the power supplies were tested at 1kV and 1.5kV, which are considered typical levels that could happen during a lightning strike. All ATX power supplies should pass the 1kW test, although to my surprise one of the Hi-POT labelled PSUs didn’t. The 1.5kV test is not a requirement but most of the units passed this as well.

Some of you will be disappointed by the lack of noise testing, but sadly we were unable to source suitable test equipment to perform any sensible testing. Hopefully we will be able to do this next time, but it is one of the hardest aspects to test on a PSU and we’d like to do it properly. This is because a PSU’s noise level will depend on the load applied and also on the type of case it is installed in. There are also other factors such as Power Factor Correction (PFC) noise, something all PSUs with active PFCs suffer from to some degree. This usually presents itself as a high-pitched squealing noise but this could be easily overpowered by other noise factors such as the CPU cooler and case fans.

Right, on to the units on test and let’s see what they have on offer.

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