Tiny, Silent and Efficient: The picoPSU

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There's only room for a very simple regulation circuit on the picoPSU. Two parallel circuit boards are used. Approximately half of each board is devoted the generating +5V, while the other half contains similar circuitry for the +3.3V line.

The -12V and +5VSB lines are not immediately visible. It is plausible that the standby line uses the same circuitry as the main +5V line. The appropriate pins would be disabled when the power supply is not active.

Up close and personal.

+12V input is on the top left, while the four wires on the right carry +5V and +12V.

Two PCBs provide all the power that is needed.

All hooked up and ready to go.


Numerous adapters offset the lack of cable sets.

As is fitting for such a tiny power supply, the number of cables is kept to a minimum. In fact, aside from the main ATX connector, the only other output plugs are two IDE drive connectors and a floppy connector, all on the same short cable set. Another plug on a separate cable accepts the +12V input. The plug is designed to be mounted on a metal panel. A PCI slot cover would be ideal, but the appropriate metal bits were not included.

To make up for the lack of cables sets, a number of adapters are included so that different kinds of devices can be connected. Most important of these is an adapter for the +12V AUX plug found on nearly all mainstream motherboards. A 20-pin to 24-pin adapter is also included, although most 24-pin boards will function just fine without the extra four pins connected. Only systems with a high-powered PCI Express graphics card are likely to need the extra four pins, and this kind of system is likely to overload the picoPSU anyway. Surprisingly, a PCI Express adapter is also included, although any card that requires the external power connector is likely to be too much for the external power brick to handle.

Another advantage of the adapters is their ability to extend the length of the single cable set, which needs to be everywhere at once. Luckily, the ATX header, which is where the cables start from, is a much more central location than where the power supply is usually located, so the short cable was less of an issue that it might have been.

Even with the numerous adapters, a couple of adapters are sorely missed. One is an adapter for SATA drives. The other is a Y-splitter, so that the number of IDE connectors could be increased. With one connector occupied by the +12V AUX plug and the other by the hard drive, there were simply not enough plugs to go around to add an optical drive. This is a serious oversight, as even a low powered system is likely to require all three of these. Only VIA-based systems, which do not require the +12V AUX connector are safe in this regard. Keep in mind that both SATA adapters and Y-splitter are available for purchase from most computer component stores.

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