Take a trip inside Intel’s power supply testing lab
Adam Patrick Murray/IDG
Your PC’s power supply is one of its most crucial components, but most people barely ever give it a second thought once it’s installed. And that’s kind of weird, considering it’s the one that could basically melt your machine and/or burn down your house if something goes wrong. To understand exactly what goes into making a power supply and, more importantly, making it safe, Gordon took a tour of Intel’s Folsom campus to take a deep dive into the ATX power spec.
The ATX specification was actually created by Intel way back in 1995, which is why the company still does testing and verification on it. (You can see the results at compatibleproducts.intel.com.) To start things off, you can hear from Intel’s Stephen Eastman, the guy who officially maintains the ATX spec. He’ll show you how Intel tests, certifies, and sends the results back to vendors on pretty much every power supply sold at retail. The process takes weeks for each unit.
But what happens when a power supply fails the testing? Most manufacturers have gotten this down to a literal science over the last 25 years, so Gordon brought along a few “Gordon Special” units, ancient, cheap, and abused PSUs from the days of yore. He had Stephen run them through Intel’s standardized testing system…with some interesting results.
Recently, power supplies have been given their first major shakeup in years thanks to the new ATX 3.0 specificationespecially its 12HVPWR connection for next-gen graphics cards. If you’re looking for an easy guide on how to pick the right one for your system and your parts, check out Gordon’s guide below.
Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.