A technical heads up for those who like to pore into PSU details.
A frustrating fact about PSUs and PSU makers is that there does not appear to be a stringent or regulated standard for reporting rated power
There is a standard for measuring and rating HDD capacity, CPU clock speed, etc, but not one for the simple question of how much power a PSU can deliver. There are so many cases of people with "450W" PSUs having power stability issues running a system that can't possoibly draw more than 150W. And "300W" units that keep running where the "450W" units are faltering.
It's not just about bad PSUs vs better ones. It's a dumb situation caused by uncontrolled marketing competition. Real regulation would bring PSUs out of snake oil territory and into a more sensible consumer-friendly terrain.
There are many ways that PSU makers fudge to make their units look more powerful on paper.
One of these is out and out lying
, it appears. You add up the power on all the lines in many PSUs and they fall short of the rated power by 10, 20 30W or even more.
There are more sophisticated ways:
Limit the AC input voltage to a very narrow tolerance.
The best PSUs are able to deliver their rated power given a decent range of AC input power, say 90~130V for a 120V unit. It's much more demanding to produce 300W w/90VAC input than with 120VAC, so what some PSU makers will detail in their tech specs (usually not in their consumer brochures) is to specify 115-120VAC for input power. A PSU specified this way will not deliver full power if the AC voltage sags, if there is a brown-out. Surely it causes instability more often than a PSU rated to deliver full power with 90-130VAC.
Specify a low operating temperature for rated output.
This is quite common, but again not often seen in consumer brochures, but rather tech spec sheets provided usually only on demand by engineers or corp buyers. A typical PSU operating temp statement is somthing like this:
0ºC ~25ºC for full rating of load, decrease to zero Watts O/P at 70ºC
Examine what that says. Full power (let's say 400W) is available when the unit is at 0ºC ~25ºC. Hmmm. Think about this.
Have you ever felt air blown out of a PSU in a PC running absolutely full tilt (which it would have to do to get anywhere near 400W output) that felt cool to the fingers? 25ºC airflow would feel exactly that: Cool, given that normal body temperature is 37 °C.
So this PSU cannot deliver full rated power when its
temperature goes over 25ºC.
OK, what happens to the max power output capacity above that temp? It decreases gradually so that by the time the PSU temp reaches 70ºC, the PSU cannot deliver any power at all. So if you assume that this power drop as temp rises is linear, then max power capacity will drop by ~9W for every degree over 25ºC.
Now having examined as many PSUs as I have over the last 2~3 years, I have to say there's not a single PSU in ANY PC I have ever used or examined that would not measure at least 30~35ºC almost anywhere inside the PSU under almost any kind of load. And if/when it is pushed, 45ºC is nothing at all, especially for or near hot running components like voltage regulators.
So let's say 40ºC is a fairly typical temp inside a PSU. This 400W rated unit would actually be able to deliver a max of just 220W at that temp. Hmmm. Interesting, isn't it? At 50ºC, the available power would drop to just 130W.
No wonder some PSUs have 3 fans each capable of 50 cfm!!
Here's a simple fact: Really high quality PSUs are actually rated for full power output at as high as 40~50ºC.
The trick is get a hold of the spec sheets that tell such information so you can compare apples to apples. Or ask.