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How We Test Power Supply Units

Hold-Up Time And Power Good Signal

Hold-up time represents the amount of time, usually measured in milliseconds, that a PSU can maintain output regulations as defined by the ATX specification without input power. Put simply, hold-up time is the amount of time that the system can continue to run without shutting down or rebooting during a power interruption.

According to the ATX spec the PWR_OK is a “power good” signal. This signal should be asserted high, at 5V, by the power supply to indicate that the +12V, 5V, and 3.3V outputs are within the regulation thresholds and that sufficient mains energy is stored by the APFC converter to guarantee continuous power operation within specification for at least 17 ms. Conversely, PWR_OK should be de-asserted to a low state, 0V, when any of the +12V, 5V, or 3.3V output voltages falls below its under voltage threshold, or when mains power has been removed for a time sufficiently long such that power supply operation cannot be guaranteed. The AC loss to PWR_OK minimum hold-up time is set at 16 ms, a lower period than the hold-up time described in the first paragraph and ATX spec sets also a PWR_OK inactive to DC loss delay which should be more than 1 ms. This means that in any case the AC loss to PWR_OK hold-up should be lower than the overall hold-up time of the PSU and this ensures that in no case the power supply will continue sending a power good signal, while any of the +12V, 5V and 3.3V rails is out of spec.

The ATX specification sets the minimum hold-up time to 17 ms with the maximum continuous output load. In many cases, manufacturers use smaller capacitors in the APFC converter, resulting in a measurement of less than 17 ms. Manufacturers do this mostly to cut production costs, as these capacitors are expensive. The smaller bulk capacitors also improve efficiency by a little bit.

Measuring the hold-up time is a dangerous procedure since you have to connect an oscilloscope to the mains grid. Unless you are taking the right precautions, you never want to do this; it's dangerous and you could harm yourself and your equipment!

  • 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