At eTeknix we take the power supply testing procedure very seriously and have invested a lot of resources into acquiring the appropriate testing equipment. For all power supply reviews, we test the power supplies with dedicated power supply testing equipment. This means we can get the most accurate results from our testing as opposed to using software benchmarks (such as OCCT) or multi-meter readouts which are broadly inaccurate.
To test voltage regulation we load the power supply to five different load scenarios that give an equal spread of load across every single rail. So that means 20% on all rails, 40% on all rails and so on. We then calculate the average deviation of each rail from its expected voltage. Ideally, anything of +/- 2% regulation is seen as a very good result.
Power efficiency is measured by calculating the supplied wattage divided by the wattage drawn at the wall/plug, multiplied by 100 to give a percentage. We then compare that to the particular 80 Plus certification the company claims to see if it meets that. You can see the 80 Plus certifications below, we always test power supplies at 230v.
Power Factor Correction is the ratio of the real power flowing to the load, to the apparent power in the circuit. PFC aims to make the load circuitry that is power factor corrected appear purely resistive (apparent power equal to real power). In this case, the voltage and current are in phase and the reactive power consumption is zero. The closer the number to one the better as this allows the most efficient delivery of electrical power (Source – Wikipedia).
An oscilloscope can easily measure noise and Ripple. These show how much voltage fluctuation there is on a particular rail. We tested the rail stability of the 3.3-volt, 5-volt and 12-volt rails using an identical time and millivolt scale for all graphs. millivolt ripple is measured by the peak-to-peak size of the voltage curve.
The latest ATX 12-volt version 2.3 specifications state that ripple from peak to peak must be no higher than 50 millivolts for the 3.3-volt and 5-volt rails, while the 12-volt rail is allowed up to 120 millivolts peak to peak to stay within specifications. Millivolt figures are stated to the closest increment of 5 given their variability.
Power supplies are often quoted as having various protection mechanisms and the most important of these is Over Power Protection. In our testing, we crank up the power draw until the power supply either shuts down (meaning the OPP mechanism is present and working) or blows up (meaning it is either not present or not working). We then note the maximum power consumption before the power supply shut down, or before it blew up.
When testing in a power supply laboratory it is difficult to take fan noise readings as the noise from the Sunmoon test equipment and air conditioning corrupts everything. The next best thing in our circumstances was reading off the fan speed with a tachometer to get an idea of the noise. The ambient temperature during testing is held constant at 22 degrees, with 1 degree of variation. Each power supply had a consistent period of 5 minutes to stabilise between each load scenario.
In my experience, the following general relationships apply between noise levels and fan speeds, though it can vary greatly between the type of fan used.
This is just an example (taken from a Corsair ax1200i) of what you can expect to see on a PSU interior.
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