View Full Version : Recommended power supply brands?

Billy T
30-05-2004, 01:24 PM
Hi Team

Posted this a while back, matters came to a head this morning.

> No1 son's homework computer has taken to refusing to start, but unfortunately the problem is very intermittent. It fails at switch-on and there is a short burst of HDD activity but no post, no beeps, and the monitor doesn't come out of standby. Pushing the reset button does nothing, Power-Good comes up OK, and the only supply voltage that appears to be out of spec is pin 9 (standby) on the ATX psu plug which should be 5 volts but is only 3 volts with the power off and 3.5 with the power on.

The problem suddenly got worse this morning with a blanket refusal to start, so with homework to be done a snappy fix was essential. Not having got around to buying the new PSU :8} I had to bodge it and fortunately hanging a 100 uF cap to ground off pin 9 brought it straight to life from the stalled state.

So, what are the recommended brands for new power supplies? A 350W jobbie would have plenty in reserve.


Billy 8-{)

30-05-2004, 01:38 PM
i just went through this myself actually, not to long ago.
I found that for good reliable brands you are looking at enermax, thermaltake and i think antec (although i may have that name wrong its a name similar)
i paid around $90 for my 420w thermaltake and its going great. Beware of cheap power supplies they are the work of the devil, in particualr do not touch anything labelled as deer or hyena

30-05-2004, 01:41 PM
i quite like ENERMAX however i have struck one motherboard that caused a standby voltage so i had to change it (used a aopen which worked fine). just check in bios or jumber on board that there is an optoin like keyboard standby/wakeup/startup. sometimes that can draw to much standby current.

30-05-2004, 01:50 PM
Using a Thermaltake HPC-360-102 DF, here for the last 12 months, it seems nice and quiet, and the usual Thermaltake reliability. Not the absolute cheapest in the world, but quieter than most.

30-05-2004, 01:56 PM
I use an Enermax 435W model and have had no problems with it at all...and my system is rather power hungry. :-)

30-05-2004, 03:05 PM
I'll copy and paste from the OCNZ forum PSU thread (http://forums.overclockers.co.nz/showthread.php?s=&threadid=8661) (requires membership):


Fotron Source (oem for: Powerman/In-Win, Aopen, Verax, Zalman, Silent Power which are all good)



Icute (Some people reckon these are OK, but I would much rather not trust a $30 PSU to power my $300 motherboard when I have seen so many die)

HYENA/DEER (My god these things go pop and make BAD smells, the input stage is far too weak for NZ conditions and the primaries are too small)


Black Label PRO-V's

I have an Enermax myself and depending on the system specs I would just get a 350W one of them.

Billy T
30-05-2004, 03:07 PM
Enermax or Thermaltake it will be!

Thanks guys, I'm off to Pricespy.:)


Billy 8-{)

Alan Cottrell
30-05-2004, 06:50 PM
Hello Billy,

Also have a look at one of these http://www.dse.co.nz/cgi-bin/dse.storefront/40b9734402d591f8273fc0a87f990750/Product/View/XH6906

Dick Smiths are currently retailing these for $97.00, a very good price for a top quality 400 watt power supply.

I have installed a couple of these recently and have been very impressed.
the weight of the unit alone is a good guide, these are weighty units.

Also while on the subject, they are also selling top quality 3R cases with 400 watt psu (rebranded as DSE) at a price that I have not been able to match anywhere else.



30-05-2004, 07:20 PM
What brand are those DSE power supplies? Who makes them? They could be just cheap Hyena power supplies with a DSE sticker on them :O

Billy T
30-05-2004, 08:36 PM
Weight is a very good indicator kiki, I trust it on a lot of items. You never saw a lightweight Rolls Royce :D

Actually I don't think DSE would ruin their good name by rebadging Hyena, and their web image looks OK. It is only $82 trade ex GST and that compares favourably with what I found on PriceSpy. There will be no freight costs either so although it rated much higher than I need, it will probably do me.

I'll judge it when I see it, and if I buy, I'll look for a maker's name inside and post it.


Billy 8-{)

31-05-2004, 03:27 AM
To the best of my knowledge, DSE psu's are Leadman/Powermax PSU's.. not crash hot in my books (seeing as my leadman 400w tried to emulate chernobyl and melted the ATX socket on my mobo) but they're not shockingly bad either.. peg them up as a positive side of mediocre

In other news: The best way to paste a DSE link is to not bother copying and pasting out of the address bar.. such links are often session dependant, so when someone else goes to browse it they just get kicked back to the main DSE homepage.

The more universal way is to copy and paste the mailto link:

Remove all the guff:

And voila!

Murray P
31-05-2004, 09:04 AM
Seems that particular PSU is "out of stock" until 20th june anyway.

Another way to paste DSE links is to find the product info page rather than the advert (which as said, is cycles out over time) and pop that in.

Cheers Murray P

Billy T
31-05-2004, 10:32 AM
> ( my leadman 400w tried to emulate chernobyl
> and melted the ATX socket on my mobo)

That may have been a mobo fault whetu. When a plug/socket combination overheat it usually starts with either a poor contact surface on the mobo pin, a poor contact surface on the PSU plug or a spread socket on the PSU plug.

I always find it confusing to describe these as the PSU plug is a female socket and the mobo socket is a male plug. Go figure!

Prior to this problem the only power supply failure I had ever experienced was a Enermax :(


Billy 8-{)

Billy T
01-06-2004, 03:51 PM
Bought the DSE 400W, it looks very well made and weighs in at just under 2 kg. That is pretty solid and on taking a shufti inside, it looked to me like it is very well made with hefty heatsinks, good quality components and an all-round "nice to look at" feel.

I couldn't see a maker's name unfortunately, so it is probably on the underside of the PCB. I didn't take it up myself, but for around $25 you can extend the warranty to three years so even at retail pricing that has to be a good deal.


Billy 8-{)

01-06-2004, 04:31 PM
Nah billy.. wasnt to do with any of my gear, it was to do with the house we were in - extremely noisy mains.. and so the PSU's filtering had to be good enough to handle it.. obviously the leadman (and the novia that replaced it temporarily) couldnt hack it

And of course being a student at the time I couldnt afford a UPS or line conditioner

Another thread has recently been created at ocnz which appears to be a good read:

Billy T
01-06-2004, 07:45 PM
I read the thread whetu, but then I started to get confused. I can't see a 12 volt rail being used to power a low voltage CPU, and the very high current rating of the 3.3 volt rail suggests that it is the source of all electrons for the main processor. I tend to lose faith in advice if it appears to contain a major flaw yet the guy who wrote the pages you linked seems pretty credible otherwise.

Apart from memory I don't particularly know what else in a computer runs from that low a voltage. This PDF doc (http://www.intel.com/design/pentiumiii/applnots/24508501.pdf) by Intel seeems to confirm that view, though they do use modular dc to dc convertors for providing localised higher current supplies.

It might have been the go back before processor power demands escalated but knocking 12 volts back to 3.3 or so would generate a fair amount of heat at the current levels required.

Maybe Godfather can clarify this for us if he happens to drift past this thread.


Billy 8-{)

01-06-2004, 07:58 PM
The MB does have a DC-DC converter (2,3 or 4 sets of mosfets and coils beside the cpu socket) to give the CPU anything up to 100 Watts at only 1.5-2.0 Volts. There is some heat, some MB have heatsinks on the mosfets.
The voltage regulator used to be fed from the +5V supply but it took over 20Amps to supply the Watts. Newer MBs use +12V to cut down the need for starter cable sized wiring. Watts=Volts x Amps.

01-06-2004, 08:23 PM
ATX supplies have a separate 3.3v rail. The 12v rail would be lightly loaded in terms of Watts, compared to the 3.3v and 5v rails.

The output capabilities are probably related to the output of any one rail I suppose, but its a strange way of relating it in that article. I suppose the intent was to show that nameplate ratings may not always tell the truth.

Power Distribution for 430 watt PSU

DC O/P Load Max. / Peak
+5V (Amps) 44A / -
+12V (Amps) 20A / 23A
+3.3V (Amps) 38A / 43A
-5V (Amps) 2A / -
-12V (Amps) 1A / -
+5VSB(Amps) 2.2A / -

BTW, I agree that output (and quality I suspect) are closely related to the weight.

Billy T
02-06-2004, 10:38 AM
> Newer MBs use +12V to cut down the need for starter
> cable sized wiring. Watts=Volts x Amps.

Hi Paul

Just out of interest, if you have a spare minute or two you might like to look at the PDF doc I linked. It has some interesting images showing how MB makers get around that problem by using multi-layer boards with large-area copper groundplanes to carry the big supply loads. The relatively short distances limit voltage-drop problems and very high currents can be moved around.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Intel does talk about modular DC to DC convertors too, but I wouldn't have thought there would be much use for 25+ amps at 3.3 volts anywhere else but for a CPU. Mind you, there is 25+ amps capacity for the 5 volt line too, but a few more devices use 5 volts so the load on that rail would be higher anyway. In the final analysis, with PSUs being non-specific I guess that they provide capacity for all MB variations so 12/5/3.3 volt CPU supplies are all catered for.

I cut my teeth on 6 & 12 volt DC to DC multi-output convertors to run 25 watt output all-valve VHF radiotelephones (and before that, high power motor-generator and vibrator supplies for marine applications) so this has been an interesting learning curve for me and I no longer take computer power supplies for granted! They are quite extraordinary pieces of technology.


Billy 8-{)

02-06-2004, 01:00 PM
Hi Billy, You've already mentioned to whetu about poor connection in the power plug and socket. That's where the problem is, the limit is something like 6 Amps max per pin.
Some video cards are using CPU amounts of power these days. That and memory probably get 3.3V.
This seems useful:

D. McG
03-06-2004, 02:22 PM

> Antec
> Fotron Source (oem for: ... Zalman, ... which are all good)

I've been looking at Antec vs Zalman PSUs and noticed that the Zalman ZM300A-APF is only about $5.00 more expensive than the Antec 380W at ascent.co.nz, but I'm wondering if 380W is overkill for an AMD XP2600+ CPU with a GlacialTech SilentBreeze 462 II HSF (on a Soltek NV400 mobo), 512MB DDR-400 RAM, nVidia GeForce2 video card, Seagate 60GB 7200rpm HDD, DVD drive FDD drive, LG CD-RW drive and SB Live Value card. I'm not interested in overclocking or anything like that, so would the 300W Zalman PSU be enough for the above? My preference is for a quiet PSU that can handle a CPU usage of 100% while the HDD is being accessed (i.e. when software is loading), and the odd game (e.g. Half-life).

I've read a few reviews about the two PSUs and have found out that the Zalman is a bit quieter than the Antec, but many of these reviews tend to stress-test the PSUs to see how they handle the higher power consumption and promote the 400W and above PSUs.

The reviews also raised a point of actual max. power drawn being somewhat less than the stated specification but some power supplies (e.g. Enermax) actually can draw as much power as is specified, although Enermax is noisier. Would Zalman be more honest about their actual max. power output than Antec? Or is the higher price just for a lower sound level?

Thanks for any suggestions.


03-06-2004, 02:52 PM
The total W for many PSU do seem high but sometimes you are forced upwards just to get a decent current capacity on a particular voltage. EG for a while +12 was lightly spec'd compared to +5 so if your MB did want +12 you had to search for a PSU. The other point is that many silent PSU have temperature controlled fans that are only silent as long as the PSU is lightly loaded. whetu posted a link to views by SwiftyNZ worth reading.