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IntroductionWhile a 750W power supply is overkill for the average home computer, it's a reasonable capacity to opt for if you're touting more enthusiast level hardware. Choosing the right wattage for your PSU isn't the end of the story, however, as there are other factors to consider. With these things in mind, we bring you our latest PSU round-up, featuring eight power supplies, each from a different manufacturer, that are rated at or around the 750W mark. Click to enlargeHow We TestA PSU's ability to supply stable voltages across its rails, even under heavy load, is its most important asset. Intel's desktop PSU design guidelines specify the physical and electrical characteristics that ATX PSUs are required (in theory, at least) to adhere to.
Beginning at 200W of load, we test each PSU in 100W increments recording the output voltages on each rail at every step, thus measuring a PSU's capability to provide stable voltages across various workloads. We also use a Zes Zimmer LMG95 power meter to determine how much AC power a PSU draws from the grid to output the appropriate DC power level. The power supplied to each PSU in testing is 230V AC, the same as UK household mains electricity. How We ScoreThe voltage stability tests take pride of place in the scoring box and accounts for 40 percent of each PSU's overall score. The Design score factors in the average efficiency across each of the load scenarios (as well as leakage level under no load), the highest amount of ripple exhibited by the PSU and the amount of noise produced at the highest load level. Expansion cards are usually available as PCI Express (PCIe), since legacy PCI is nearly extinct. Though our example motherboard includes on-board graphics, we chose to use a PCI Express graphics card for enhanced performance.
As with other cards, a case screw or quick-release latch secures the top of the card's metal bracket at the opposite end. Several manufacturers offer tool-free installation using drive rails, sliding latches, or other pin-loaded devices that engage with screw holes.
The motherboard cables of new systems are usually based on the expanded EPS12V standard, which encompasses previous ATX standards.
One of the reasons for a 24-pin power cable includes added amperage supplied to PCI Express slots compared to older interface standards.
Also seen in the photo above is a 4-pin CPU fan power connector and the front-panel audio connector. Front panel audio cables are often available with both AC97 and HD-Audio connectors, where HD-Audio is a slightly newer standards and AC97 is extinct.
The case's power switch, power indicator light, reset switch, and hard drive activity light are usually connected at the motherboard's lower-front corner. USB connectors have been standardized for over fifteen years, and we suggest that first-time builders not attempt to incorporate any parts older than that. Serial ATA (SATA) power and data cables are keyed on the sides, as seen on the drive below.
Many PCI Express graphics cards require more power than the slot is able to provide, and use the 6-pin input connector shown below or a newer, higher-amperage 8-pin version. ATAPI and Ultra ATA drives have pin 1 on the "other" side of the connector, as seen when facing it (on the right in the photo below). No system is complete without software, and most operating systems are available on a bootable DVD. We hope that this series has made your build a complete success, but if it hasn't, members of our Community Forums eagerly anticipate your technical questions. Can I once-again say a big "Thanks" to the Tom's team for writing a great article which will save me lots of time and hassle in explaining PC building and component selection to n00bs who ask me for help.
Quote:Intel even jumped on the tiny bandwagon with its similar-appearing NUC (Next Unit [of] Computing) form factor.
Should put in a Cooler Master Elite 110 to showcase a mini-ITX instead of that huge Lian-Li. Most if not all issues brought up on the forums have answers in some or the other article on Tomshardware. First I put the motherboard into the PC (not fastened) to see where the standoffs are going to be placed onto the case. Next I place the power supply, and "bay devices" (optical drives, non-removable storage, etc) into the case and have those cables attached and either hanging over the outside of the case or routed behind the motherboard tray. At this point it's just a matter of aligning the motherboard with the standoffs and port plate.
I would like to have seen the article begin well before case selection, with questions as to purpose for the build. Personally I'd like a little more headroom, but the calculations in the article are correct.
I think the article will confuse noobs of talking about the power measurement at the wall socket versus the power rating of the power supply. In 1998, a group of companies including Intel, Hewlett-Packard, NEC, Dell, Data General, Micron, and Compaq created the Server System Infrastructure (SSI), an industry initiative to promote industry-standard form factors covering common server hardware elements such as chassis, power supplies, motherboards, and other components. In 1998, the SSI created the entry-level power supply (EPS) specification, which defines an industry-standard power supply form factor for entry-level pedestal (standalone tower chassis) servers. The EPS specification originally used a mechanical form factor identical to ATX, but the EPS form factor was later extended to support higher power outputs by allowing the body of the supply to be deeper if necessary. The only other major difference between EPS12V and ATX12V is that EPS power supplies can be up to 180 mm or 230 mm deep, whereas ATX supplies are technically limited to 140 mm depth according to the specification.
This power supply is basically a 230 mm-deep EPS12V supply that works in place of or as an upgrade to an ATX12V supply as long as the chassis can accommodate the additional depth. Connector compatibility isn’t generally a problem because, by virtue of the Molex Mini-Fit Jr. If you have the room, an EPS12V power supply can be used with most ATX chassis and motherboards for the ultimate in high-output capabilities. TFX12V power supplies are designed to deliver nominal power output capabilities of 180–300 watts, which is more than adequate for the smaller systems for which they are designed. TFX12V power supplies are symmetrical and can be mounted with the fan facing either left or right. Unlike SFX-based supplies, only one standard mechanical form factor exists for TFX12V supplies. CFX12V power supplies are designed to deliver nominal power output capabilities of 220–300 watts, which is more than adequate for the mid-sized systems for which they are designed.
CFX12V supplies have included the four-pin +12 V connector since the standard first appeared in November 2003, well after the +12 V connector had been included in other power supply form factors. Intel originally introduced the LFX12V (low profile form factor) power supply in April 2004. LFX12V power supplies are designed to deliver nominal power output capabilities of 180–260 watts, which is ideal for the tiny systems for which they are designed. All LFX12V supplies include a 24-pin main motherboard power connector, a four-pin +12 V connector, and Serial ATA connectors.
A power supply company called FSP (Fortron Source Power) originally introduced variations of what was to become the Flex ATX power supply form factor in 2001 in the form of proprietary designs for SFF desktop and thin (1U) server systems.
Flex ATX power supplies, like the one shown below, are designed to deliver nominal power output capabilities of between 180 and 270 watts, which is ideal for the small systems for which they are designed. Flex ATX power supplies include either a 20-pin or 24-pin main motherboard power connector and a four-pin +12 V connector for the motherboard. Quote:On the other hand, if you plug into a 240 V outlet and have the switch set for 120 V, you can cause damage. Did that when unboxing a computer, must have flipped the small red switch on the supply and boom, at the Windows XP loading bar the PSU exploded. Could this explain why I only have 4-6GB memory at post, but 10GB after a quick power off and back on (didn't bother with a reset switch when designing case).
Someone said I'd have to reseat the cpu, but maybe it's just that rubbish coolermaster power supply? Until unexpected glitch ruined the flashing if my motherboard, beyond this, I think the floppy connector is useless.

VOLTEQ HY5050EX is a high current, high voltage regulated switching DC power supply, with built-in over-voltage and over-current protection, ideal for battery charging, DC motors, anodizing and plating applications. Although the ATX12V 2.x specification includes a new 24-pin main power connector with more power for devices such as video cards, the design was intended to power a video card drawing up to 75 watts maximum through the PCIe x16 slot. The PCI Express auxiliary power connectors are six-pin (2 ? 3) or eight-pin (2 ? 4) Molex Mini-Fit Jr. Because of both the physical design as well as the use of the sense signals, the six-pin power supply connector plug is backward compatible with the eight-pin graphics card socket. The sense signals are used so that the graphics card can detect what types of connector(s) are attached, and therefore how much total power is available. Due to special keying on the eight-pin connector, it cannot be plugged into a six-pin socket. Caution: The eight-pin PCI Express Auxiliary Power Connector and the eight-pin EPS12V CPU Power Connector use similar Molex Mini-Fit Jr. The six-pin connector uses two +12 V wires to carry up to 75 W, whereas the eight-pin connector uses three +12 V wires to carry up to 150 W. Even though the specification allows for a delivery capability of 75 W (six-pin connector) or 150 W (eight-pin connector), the total power-handling capacity of these connectors is at least 192 and 288 W, respectively, using standard terminals, and even more using the HCS or Plus HCS terminals. These two auxiliary power connectors are sometimes called PCI Express Graphics (PEG), Scalable Link Interface (SLI), or CrossFire power connectors because they are used by high-end PCI Express boards with SLI or CrossFire capabilities.
Note: Nvidia has trademarked the term SLI as meaning scalable link interface, but its primary competitor, AMD, uses similar dual-graphics card technology called CrossFire to achieve comparable performance improvements. If your existing power supply doesn’t feature PCI Express auxiliary power connectors, you can use Y-adapters to convert multiple peripheral power connectors (normally used for drives) into a single six-pin or eight-pin PCI Express auxiliary power connector.
Primarily, your power supply needs to be able to supply voltage to your hardware as stably as possible to avoid damaging it, and you want it to run as efficiently as possible too to save you money in the long run. There's about an £80 difference between the cheapest and most expensive models, so plenty of price points are covered, and as it's been a while since our last round-up, we're using a new testing methodology too. It sounds simple, but cheaper and poorly made PSUs often miss the mark, especially under heavier loads. Ripple refers to the tiny fluctuations in the output voltage of a power supply: an unavoidable result of converting AC to DC. This is done by isolating the power supply in a sound-proof box (where noise levels are 17 dB(A)).
The score is worked out as a percentage of the voltage measurements that are within the limits of Intel's specifications.
As well as this, it also incorporates the number, type and quality of cables supplied with the unit.
Available in single-, four-, eight-, and sixteen-lane versions, the PCIe standard retains compatibility between shorter cards and longer slots. Conversely, longer cards can only be placed into shorter slots when the forward end of that slot has no cap.
External drives typically slide in from the front, while internal drives often slide in from inside the case. Previously found on server-sized EPS power supplies, the 24-pin main power cable is both forwards and backwards compatible with the earlier 20-pin part. While most cards won't overdraw a 20-pin connector, graphics card makers occasionally have suggestions for a higher minimum level of available power. Formerly known as the "P4" power connector, it was added by Intel to supplement its Pentium 4 processors, and later adapted by AMD motherboard designers.
On-board 4-pin fan connectors are designed to provide pulse width modulation (PWM) automatic speed control, but the connectors are once again cross-compatible with 3-pin fans. Using the "wrong" connector may temporarily reduce the number of available audio channels, but will not harm any components.
LEDs pass current in only one direction, and positive pins (indicated by a "plus" sign below) normally connect to the colored wire on each lead.
The missing pin location is blocked by most front-panel USB connectors to assure that the connector is polarized correctly. The 6-pin connector must never be confused with 4-pin or 8-pin motherboard power, as its polarity is the opposite of those! New motherboards don’t support these drives natively, old SATA-to-ATA converters often had limited compatibility, and old drive interface cards used legacy PCI. A key is located on the top of all 80-conductor ATA cables to prevent upside-down insertion. The system's boot order can be selected in the motherboard BIOS, usually under the "Advanced BIOS Features" menu, and should be set to boot from CD first. Most of these machines are available either as a barebones system (no drives or memory) or a complete PC, and all of them use external, notebook-style power adapters. Since its a guide for folks with little to no knowledge, I think it would help them to dispel myths and get some facts over XFire and SLI. The idea was to be able to design network servers that could use industry-standard interchangeable parts. The main difference today between ATX and EPS with respect to connectors is the use of an eight-pin dual +12 V connector in EPS12V instead of a four-pin +12 V connector in ATX12V.
EPS12V supplies are sometimes called extended ATX power supplies because of their optional extended length.
The basic shape of TFX12V is longer and narrower than the ATX- or SFX-based form factors, allowing it to more easily fit into low-profile systems.
TFX12V supplies include a side-mounted internal 80 mm fan that is usually thermostatically controlled, so as to run both coolly and quietly.
TFX12V supplies have also always included the four-pin +12 V connector since the standard appeared in April 2002, well after the +12 V connector had been included in other power supply form factors. CFX12V supplies include a rear-mounted internal 80 mm fan that is typically thermostatically controlled, which enables it to run both coolly and quietly. TFX12V also included the 24-pin main power connector and Serial ATA power connectors as mandatory since its inception. It’s designed for ultra-small BTX systems of about 6–9 liters in volume, primarily using picoBTX or nanoBTX motherboards. LFX12V supplies include an internal 60 mm fan, which is 20 mm smaller than that of the CFX12V design.
The current LFX12V 1.1 release dates from April 2005 and has only minor revisions over the previous version.
Flex ATX supplies usually include one or two internal 40 mm fans; however, larger fans can be mounted horizontally, and even fanless models exist. They also usually include standard peripheral and floppy power connectors, with newer units having Serial ATA power connectors as well. HY5050EX is one of the most powerful DC power supply we carry, with the maximum DC power of 2500W. That is adequate for most video cards, but high-end gaming or workstation cards usually need quite a bit more power.
Note the additional +12 V power at pin two and the two Sense signals at pins four and six, which allow a card to detect whether an eight-pin connector, a six-pin connector, or no connector is attached. This means that if your graphics card has an eight-pin socket but your power supply has only six-pin connectors available, you can plug the six-pin connector into the eight-pin socket using an offset arrangement, as shown below.
For example, if a graphics card needs a full 300 W and has both an eight-pin and six-pin connector on board, if you were to attach two six-pin power supply connectors, the card would “sense” that it had only 225 W available and, depending on the design, it could either shut down or operate in a reduced functionality mode. Because of this, many power supply manufacturers include eight-pin connectors made in a “6+2” arrangement, where the portion containing the two extra pins can be disconnected, leaving a six-pin connector that will, of course, work in a six-pin socket.
Although these figures are what the specifications allow, the wires and terminals of each connector are technically capable of handling much more power. SLI and CrossFire are Nvidia and AMD’s methods of using two video cards in unison, with each one drawing half of the screen for up to twice the performance.
Note, however, that these adapters will not help if the power supply is not capable of supplying the total power actually required. Thus, while we wouldn't recommend a 750W PSU for every new build, if you have an eye on adding a second powerful GPU to your set-up in the future, it's useful to have this type of capacity.

Other things to consider are its noise output and the number and type of connections it has. Unstable voltages can cause your hardware to exhibit instabilities or even to become damaged, so the closer they are to what they should be, the better.
Efficiency is important not just because wasted energy is bad for your wallet and the environment, but because it's dissipated as heat which can reduce the lifespan and effectiveness of your components. This is different to the 80 Plus initiative's test protocols, whereby rails are loaded proportionally based on their individual rated DC output current. A PSU's ability to suppress ripple is important, as high levels can damage your hardware, specifically the electrolytic capacitors found on motherboards and graphics cards, and reduce your overclocking potential.
Measurements are taken from a distance of 10cm after five minutes of operation for the low power tests, and after twenty minutes for the 500W one. Finally, the Value score is simply a combination of the Stability and Design scores and the total rated output (in watts) divided by the price. Because the difference between open-ended and closed slots isn’t easily seen in photos or explained on motherboard specification sheets, many manufacturers use x16 slot connectors for their four- and eight-lane interfaces. These latches are present on most PCI Express x16 slots, but are not found on lower-bandwidth PCI and PCI Express x1 interfaces.
The below example shows how a 20-pin plug fits into a 24-pin socket; the wide latch is designed to work with either 20-pin or 24-pin plugs. The newer 8-pin versions were originally meant to address phenomenally power-hungry Pentium D and Prescott-based Pentium 4s, but many modern AMD and Intel processors are efficient enough to once again work from 4 pins. Some motherboards are able to control fan speed via either voltage changes or pulse width, while others will run the “wrong” fan at full speed, continuously, without harming the system.
The key-pin for audio headers is in a different location from other panel connectors to ease installation. A reversed connection would damage the motherboard, so 4-pin, 8-pin, or single-row internal break-out cables require special care.
Fortunately, the newer 8-pin PCI Express power cables are designed in such a way that they cannot be forced unintentionally into a motherboard’s 8-pin connector. If you really are stuck trying to pull childhood photos off a deceased family PC, I’d like to suggest installing the drive in an external USB-based adapter.
Many modern motherboards will list the actual name of the drive in the boot order, while others will only list it by device type.
The first major enhancement was the use of a 24-pin main power connector, which eventually trickled down to the ATX12V as well as other power supply form factor specifications in 2003.
The eight-pin dual +12 V connector is essentially the equivalent of two four-pin connectors mated together and is used by entry-level servers to power multiple processors. If you plan to use one of these EPS12V power supplies in a standard ATX chassis, it’s important that you measure the available space in your chassis to ensure you have the room behind the supply for the additional depth. A symmetrically designed mounting system allows the fan to be oriented facing either side inside the system for optimum cooling and flexibility in accommodating different chassis layouts.
The shape of the supply includes a ledge such that part of the supply can extend over the motherboard, reducing the overall size of the system. The current CFX12V 1.2 release dates from 2005 and has only minor revisions over previous versions, including a change to HCS terminals in the connectors. Similar to the CFX12V fan, it is usually thermostatically controlled to ensure quiet operation while still providing adequate cooling. This high quality regulated power supply can be continuously adjustable at 0-50V DC and 0-50A.
For reference, the connector is similar to Molex part number 39-01-2060 (six-pin) or 39-01-2080 (eight-pin), but with different keying to prevent interchanging them with the +12 V motherboard power connectors. The connectors are keyed such that they should only plug in the correct way, but be careful because they can be forced together in an incorrect fashion, which can potentially damage the card.
Although they are keyed differently, the keying can be overcome by sufficient force such that you can plug an EPS12V power connector into a graphics card, or a PCI Express power connector into a motherboard. Each pin in the PCI Express auxiliary power connectors is rated to handle up to 8 amps of current using standard terminals—more if using HCS or Plus HCS terminals. Each card can draw hundreds of watts, with many of the high-end cards using two or three auxiliary power connectors. Checked online, found the incompatibility, dodged the bullet bought a PSU for ?20 and an adapter for ?5.
The +12V rail is tested using Stratron 3229 load generators, while the lower voltage ones are tested with on a Stratron 3227. Intel specifies that PSUs must be at least 70 percent efficient under full load, but 80 percent is recommended. However, we're not testing whether each PSU deserves its 80 Plus rating, and our procedure still reflects the marginal role played by the lower voltage rails in today's systems.
The maximum ripple permitted by Intel's specifications on the +12V rail is 120mV (peak-to-peak), but PSUs should be able to manage at least half this value to be considered excellent.
If you noticed that half of the electrical contacts are missing from the above PCIe x16 slot (the little metal pieces are tough to see), it’s because that slot is wired as an x8 interface.
Most 8-pin boards will work with both 8-pin and 4-pin power, as the connectors are cross-compatible. If your power and reset switches work but your power and HDD lights don't, your LED connectors are probably flipped. Although this book does not cover network servers, in many ways a low-end server is a high-end PC, and many high-end components that were once found only on servers have trickled down to standard PCs.
EPS also originally called for the use of HCS terminals in the Molex Mini-Fit Jr.–based power supply connectors, which became standard in ATX12V in March 2005. Most power supplies with true ratings of 500 watts or more are made in the EPS12V form factor, because it isn’t really possible to fit more power than that into the standard ATX size.
Because of the way the connectors are designed, an eight-pin +12 V connector can plug into a four-pin +12 V connector on a motherboard, with the unused pins simply hanging unused, offset to one side or the other.
Revision 2.1 (July 2005) includes only minor updates and changes from the previous version. These are also sometimes called 1U (one unit) power supplies because they are used in many 1U server chassis. The unit comes with 2 LED displays, providing accurate and clearly visible readout for the voltage and current value. Either of these scenarios results in +12 V being directly shorted to ground, potentially destroying the motherboard, graphics card, or power supply. By counting the number of terminals, you can calculate the power-handling capability of the connector.
I have never had they charge me a "re-stocking" fee on any item, even when I returned item because I did not like it.
In addition, the (now-obsolete) auxiliary six-pin power connector, the four-pin +12 V power connector, and a variation of the six-pin graphics power connector all appeared in the EPS specifications before ending up in ATX. You may think these would require a custom EPS chassis, but in fact many (if not most) full-sized ATX tower chassis can handle these greater depths without interference, especially when using one of the newer breed of shorter-length optical drives (because one or more of the optical drives are often inline with the power supply). Note the Sense signal at pin five, which allows a graphics card to detect whether a six-pin power connector has been attached.
Using two video cards drawing 300 watts each means that even if you have a 750-watt power supply, you will have only 150 watts of power left to run the motherboard, processor, and all the disk drives. Without the proper power connections being detected, the card may shut down or operate in a reduced functionality mode. Also note that pin two is technically listed as “no connection” in the official specification, but most power supplies do seem to include +12 V there.
For this reason, systems using two or more high-end video cards require the highest-output supplies available, and some of the current ones are capable of putting out up to 1000 watts (1 kilowatt) or more.

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