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Phaedrus PSU Q&A - August

post #1 of 56
Thread Starter 
Going to try to do these at the beginning of the month.

So welcome once again to Phaedrus' PSU Q&A, where I answer all your PSU related questions. I prefer questions about PSU technology, design, manufacturers, brands, etc. and will likely skip over most questions along the lines of "what wattage PSU do I need?" and "is this a good PSU?" Those questions should probably be in their own thread.

With that out of the way, let's get started. What do you want to know?



#1
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evil Penguin View Post
I noticed several motherboard manufacturers have switched to all solid capacitors for their high-end products. Why do PSU manufacturers mostly use electrolytic capacitors instead of all solid? Just to save money or do solid capacitors have some sort of "size" limit?
Indeed, solid capacitors tend to have an upper limit on capacity, and the extra cost vs. electrolytics goes up exponentially as the capacitance goes up. It would be simply impossible to make solid capacitors that could serve as the primary caps in a PSU over ~150W. As for secondary and auxiliary capacitors, it's been done but usually with mediocre results, high cost, and not a huge real world benefit.

It does make sense to use solid caps on daughterboards where high capacitance is not required; for instance, on PSUs with a "DC-DC" design, the buck regulators that drop the +12V down to +5V and +3.3V are housed on one or two daughterboards and almost always have solid caps. They can do this because the +5V and +3.3V rails see relatively light loads and don't require huge capacitance, and at the capacitance required solid caps are often smaller than equivalent electrolytics. You also often see solid caps on the PCBs for modular connectors, although electrolytics are also common there.

Also, solid capacitors are not suitable for replacing the X and Y capacitors found in a PSU's EMI filter, nor the foil cap usually found after the bridge rectifier. And of course the tiny SMD signalling capacitors found around the control ICs.

Solid capacitors have their roles, and if used intelligently can be a benefit to a power supply's performance and/or reliability. But just replacing all electrolytics with solid caps isn't necessarily as good an idea as it sounds.

#2
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyleinator View Post
Ok well I had a Kingwin PSU with 4 12 volt rails. I read your PSU muilti/single rail myth and if I understand correctly the only difference currently is that single rails can do more damage to your system if they fail. You also said that only early muilti rail psu's had problems with each rail being used for each part. ex your video card would not get all 12 volts rails. My old PSU http://www.xoxide.com/kingwin-mach1-700w-psu.html is that and a 700 watt psu should be able to power a single gtx 580 no problem. This one couldn't. Did that psu not have the linked 12 volt rails? Or was is just merely the fact that it's a low quality PSU?
Well the Mach 1 isn't that old, maybe around 2008 or so, which is well after most of the problem multi-rail units were made (2005-2007). And it's average quality built, although performance is somewhat sucky.

However, the power supply does not, in fact, have OCP so is a single rail PSU. The label's description of multiple rails is basically just fantasy. It's likely the PSU was just defective.

#3
Quote:
Originally Posted by N7-OC View Post
Phaedrus, you've said that PSU's don't "wear out" like tires do, but what's all this hub-bub about capacitator aging?
Electrolytic capacitors do lose capacity as they age, but with quality capacitors it takes years for them to degrade to the point where PSU performance is affected. That's part of why you buy a high quality PSU; it has higher quality, longer-lived capacitors, and the better performance means that when the capacitors do degrade it takes longer for the degradation to have real world impact.

Quote:
Also, what's this I hear about modular PSU connections & resistance?
Anytime you have a non-hardwired connection you have higher resistance. That's just a fact of life. The pins in a modular cable don't make 100% perfect electrical connection, and there's no way to make it 100% perfect. So higher resistance. But it's ok, because the added resistance is usually so small it makes no difference.

#4
Quote:
Originally Posted by youra6 View Post
I heard from my engineer friend that there is a kind of power supply (not for consumers) that is 100% or near 100% efficient. If it exists, what is it and how is it possible?
Using very advanced topologies, very high-end components, and some clever engineering, it's possible to get a single output AC-DC SMPSU to efficiencies of 97%. In a DC-DC SMPSU, it's possible to achieve 99%.


Enthusiast ATX12V PSUs have a very complex job. They need to be able to take a wide range of AC input voltages and frequencies, convert it to three main DC voltages (+12V, +5V, +3.3V) and a standby voltage (+5VSB) and a legacy voltage (-12V) while adhering to strict specifications on noise and voltage regulation, being able to support a near-infinite combination of hardware configurations, and have PFC so that they don't deharmonize the AC mains, AND have a quiet cooling system, AND have features that enthusiasts want like modularity, AND look good, AND be affordable to the average computer enthusiast consumer.

I think we can thus excuse them for being a few % less efficient than their more specialized brethren.

#5
Quote:
Originally Posted by X-ray View Post
are there any PSUs that will tell you power used, this would be a good function to have, either by software or on unit display
Thortech has some, the Thunderbolt Plus and Plus Gold series.
http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php...Story&reid=205
http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/artic...Review/1119/11

#6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evil Penguin View Post
Do you foresee a 90+ certification standard soon?
Power supplies are getting more and more efficient.
Well we de facto have that with the 80PLUS Platinum cert, which requires 90%, 92%, and 89% efficiency at 20%, 50%, and 100% load. Yes it does allow a dip down to 89% at full load, but a lot of units that earn the cert do better than that anyway.

#7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hồng Sơn Lê on Google+
So, what do you think about the FSP products? I'm wondering about their Epsilon 600/700W's quanlity... How are they compare to the Seasonic SS620GB? About ~$95, which one will be your pick?
FSP isn't bad, but they aren't on par with SeaSonic. For reference the OCZ StealthXStream series are built on FSP Epsilon.

The SeaSonic is much better for that price.

#8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smoblikat View Post
I know XFX uses seasonic, but i heard corsair switched over to delta or whatever, so that means XFX > corsair. But which has higher quality XFX or seasonic, if they all use the same platforms.
Corsair has never and probably will never use Delta Electronics. They currently use a mix of SeaSonic and Channel Well, with special order company Flextronics building the AX1200. XFX uses all SeaSonic.

XFX and Corsair generally, at any given price point, have the same approximate build quality and performance, give or take a bit.

#9
Quote:
Originally Posted by badatgames18 View Post
is there any oem or retail product that one can purchase that will monitor the amperage, efficiency, and power usage of a psu?

like the torchtech device, but retail that i can buy without the psu?
Not in all one package, no.

A power meter can measure the amount of power you pull from the wall. (price: $20 for Kill-a-Watt; $175+ for pro level stuff)
A DC clamp ammeter can measure the amount of current being pulled from a PSU at any given moment at a given voltage (price: $50+)
A load bank (aka ATE) can test the capabilities of a PSU comprehensively (price: $800+)
A digital multimeter (DMM) can test the voltage output of a PSU (price: $5-$20 for a cheap-o, $80+ for pro level stuff)
An oscilloscope can measure ripple and more complex performance characteristics of a PSU (price: $250 for cheapest worthwhile, $400+ recommended)


There is no one device that can do everything you want.
Edited by Phaedrus2129 - 8/14/11 at 2:04pm
post #2 of 56
Ok well I had a Kingwin PSU with 4 12 volt rails. I read your PSU muilti/single rail myth and if I understand correctly the only difference currently is that single rails can do more damage to your system if they fail. You also said that only early muilti rail psu's had problems with each rail being used for each part. ex your video card would not get all 12 volts rails. My old PSU http://www.xoxide.com/kingwin-mach1-700w-psu.html is that and a 700 watt psu should be able to power a single gtx 580 no problem. This one couldn't. Did that psu not have the linked 12 volt rails? Or was is just merely the fact that it's a low quality PSU?
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post #3 of 56
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyleinator View Post
Ok well I had a Kingwin PSU with 4 12 volt rails. I read your PSU muilti/single rail myth and if I understand correctly the only difference currently is that single rails can do more damage to your system if they fail. You also said that only early muilti rail psu's had problems with each rail being used for each part. ex your video card would not get all 12 volts rails. My old PSU http://www.xoxide.com/kingwin-mach1-700w-psu.html is that and a 700 watt psu should be able to power a single gtx 580 no problem. This one couldn't. Did that psu not have the linked 12 volt rails? Or was is just merely the fact that it's a low quality PSU?
Well the Mach 1 isn't that old, maybe around 2008 or so, which is well after most of the problem multi-rail units were made (2005-2007). And it's average quality built, although performance is somewhat sucky.

However, the power supply does not, in fact, have OCP so is a single rail PSU. The label's description of multiple rails is basically just fantasy. It's likely the PSU was just defective.
post #4 of 56
Thread Starter 
Bump.
post #5 of 56
Eventually I'd like to go SLI with another 3GB 580. Maybe even go for TRI-SLI if I'm feeling daft and want to lighten my pockets. I'm sure the unit I have right now will run SLI flawlessly

What PSU would you recommend for TRI-SLI GTX 580?
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post #6 of 56
Phaedrus, you've said that PSU's don't "wear out" like tires do, but what's all this hub-bub about capacitator aging? Also, what's this I hear about modular PSU connections & resistance?
 
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post #7 of 56
I've always wanted to know what do you think about Silverstone PSUs do you recommend them?
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post #8 of 56
*raises hand*

How can I test my power supply before voiding the warranty?
I just bought it, and since I need to open to sleeve it nicely

I've tested with a multi-meter and all voltages seem OK. Also plugged a fan in it.
Is there anything else I can get?
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post #9 of 56
How does the Maxrevo 1.5kw compare to the stryder 1.5kw?
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post #10 of 56
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by N7-OC View Post
Phaedrus, you've said that PSU's don't "wear out" like tires do, but what's all this hub-bub about capacitator aging?
Electrolytic capacitors do lose capacity as they age, but with quality capacitors it takes years for them to degrade to the point where PSU performance is affected. That's part of why you buy a high quality PSU; it has higher quality, longer-lived capacitors, and the better performance means that when the capacitors do degrade it takes longer for the degradation to have real world impact.

Quote:
Also, what's this I hear about modular PSU connections & resistance?
Anytime you have a non-hardwired connection you have higher resistance. That's just a fact of life. The pins in a modular cable don't make 100% perfect electrical connection, and there's no way to make it 100% perfect. So higher resistance. But it's ok, because the added resistance is usually so small it makes no difference.
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