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How We Test Power Supply Units

Ripple Voltage

Ripple represents the AC fluctuations (periodic) and noise (random) found in the DC rails of a PSU. Ripple significantly decreases the life span of capacitors since it increases their temperature; a 10 °C increase can cut into a capacitor's life span by 50 percent. Ripple also plays an important role in overall system stability, especially when it is overclocked. 

The ripple limits, according to the ATX specification, are 120mV for the +12V and -12V rails, and 50mV for the remaining rails (5V, 3.3V and 5VSB). Nonetheless, in modern PSUs, we expect to find much lower ripple. It should be just a small fraction in high-end platforms with quality components and the proper amount of filtering capacitors. Below, you will find a schematic that analyzes a ripple waveform.

In the above schematic, four AC components can be identified:

  • Low-frequency ripple associated with AC mains frequency.
  • High-frequency ripple due to PWM of the main switches.
  • Switching noise that has the same frequency with switching PWM.
  • Non-periodic random noise that is not related to any of the above.

Here are a few examples of the typical ripple test results you'll find in our PSU reviews: 

  • JPNpower
    Nobody can fault you guys for not being thorough enough! All we can wish for is that you do these tests a bit more often. I'm at a loss how to navigate the PSU field, and a "Best Picks" section for PSU's would be tremendously helpful.
    Reply
  • Nuckles_56
    Really good article, it is now nice and clear how you guys go and test the power supplies, and as JPNpower said, no one can fault you guys for not being thorough enough.
    Reply
  • ykki
    @JPNpower= I also think a best psu for the money article would be nice but the power supplies in the market pretty much stay the same. We may go for months before seeing any change in the list.
    Reply
  • Kewlx25
    Interesting!
    Reply
  • damric
    Looks legit, Aris.

    THW used to be the laughing stock of PSU reviews, but your recent reviews have changed all of that.

    Keep up the good work!
    Reply
  • damric
    Nobody can fault you guys for not being thorough enough! All we can wish for is that you do these tests a bit more often. I'm at a loss how to navigate the PSU field, and a "Best Picks" section for PSU's would be tremendously helpful.
    @JPNpower= I also think a best psu for the money article would be nice but the power supplies in the market pretty much stay the same. We may go for months before seeing any change in the list.

    I'll make one and submit it through bb-71 to get stickied.
    Reply
  • ykki
    15570872 said:
    I'll make one and submit it through bb-71 to get stickied.

    OK. If someone makes a psu list I'd rather see it from you (or the mods). Good luck.
    Reply
  • damric
    15570891 said:
    15570872 said:
    I'll make one and submit it through bb-71 to get stickied.

    OK. If someone makes a psu list I'd rather see it from you (or the mods). Good luck.

    It will be a group effort for sure :)
    Reply
  • iam2thecrowe
    It would be nice if all manufacturers could do this testing and publish results when they build the things, or even better for it to be a requirement. Then at least there would be less junk PSU's on the market.
    Reply
  • ykki
    15571045 said:
    It would be nice if all manufacturers could do this testing and publish results when they build the things, or even better for it to be a requirement. Then at least there would be less junk PSU's on the market.
    Or more fake reviews.

    Reply