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Fixing computers can be a puzzling business, especially when faced with odd startup behavior and intermittent power issues. One of the most common causes of computer hardware problems is failure of the power supply, yet many technicians and do-it-yourselfers aren’t aware of the possibility, pointing instead to a dying motherboard or faulty RAM as the cause.

Manhattan manufactures a slick little tester which can take some guesswork out of computer diagnosis. It’s designed for testing every type of connector you’ll find on a modern power supply, from the 24-pin Molex motherboard connection to three-pin fan leads. Both types of graphics card power connections (6-pin and 8-pin Molex) are covered, plus motherboard auxiliary power connections, and finally SATA power connectors and normal 4-pin bodies. Not bad for $28 from Frozen CPU.

ATX 2.0 Ultimate Power Supply Tester [Frozen CPU]

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9 Responses to ATX Power Supply Tester

  1. dbett says:

    I have one of these and it works well.

    At least on mine it took a bit of wiggling and pin-straightening to get the main 24 pin power plug in. But after getting that fixed, it was great to be able to confirm my power supply was working correctly.

    I especially like the fact it gives you actual voltages, rather than just a green light.

    And yes, you can do the same thing with a voltmeter – but only if you know how to short out the proper pins on the 24-pin connector. Without that signal, ATX power supplies won’t provide power to any of the other connectors.

  2. ToolGuyd says:

    This looks identical to the CoolMax one Paul posted about four months ago. It looks like the only differences are the absence of an on/off button, different color plastic plug receptacles, and different rebranding for more $$.

    http://toolmonger.com/2009/04/13/coolmax-lcd-power-supply-tester/

  3. Dennis says:

    Am I odd for just keeping a spare power supply around?

  4. Lex Dodson says:

    So, sir, Dennis. I have one myself, but even the old replace-with-known-good method falls flat sometimes.

    Good catch, ToolGuyd. Several differently-branded versions of the tester are available, and I must have missed that one when I checked the database.

  5. _Jon says:

    The simple ones are not reliable enough.
    I have several known good power supplies in the cabinet.

    Several times, however, the problem isn’t that the power supply is defective, it is that it is underpowered. Quality power supplies are worth the money. A $39 PS with only two rails will not provide reliable results to a decent system. Fans, extra drives, and especially video cards suck up a lot of juice.

    And when the PS is just barely passing when it is new, as the dust collects, you start getting random reboots and freezes.

    This is a nice looking tool, but the best one is between the ears.

  6. ToolGuyd says:

    Lex, don’t worry, it happens. Besides, it was interesting to see the similarities.

    Jon, I absolutely agree with you. Another reason to go with a quality PSU is because they are typically underrated whereas junky PSUs are sometimes overrated at room temperaturesand not their elevated operating temperature.

  7. The failure of power supplies can possibly damage internal components.

  8. Steve says:

    Power supply testers are definitely a huge help – especially if you are in the diagnosis and repair business. Most of the ones I’ve seen are for the more modern power supplies. I have found one that works on both older and newer models. Just thought I’d pass the information along. I know I appreciated finding it.

    http://www.atxpowersupplies.com/ATX-Power-Supply-Tester.php

    The price is right, too!

  9. dave says:

    I not only test and replace PSU, I also keep and repair failed ones at component level in my business for several years.

    Testers (like this) do not provide a sufficient (nor equivalent) load to do both a fail/pass test! At best, they put the minimal amount of load on a PSU to keep it regulating, running. Consult the PSU label or datasheet to find the minimal current specified, normally it is about 2A on 5V rail with old ATX 1.x designs, and in more recent years also 1-2A on 12V rail with ATX12V PSU you’d find on any Pentium 4 or newer era system.

    At worst, these testers don’t draw enough current to be remotely close to causing the amount of current required to qualify a PSU as working properly.

    Case in point – an extremely common power supply failure is vented capacitors. At first, such a supply will begin to cause instability in the computer system, it will run but crash or cause errors. If you plug the PSU into this tester it will not (yet) cause enough current to find the fault, the PSU will still test good!

    The appropriate test if you don’t have a real load testing jig where you can dial in the currents listed on the PSU label and/or what the system is consumed (or if you don’t know that), is to leave the PSU connected to the system and measure the voltages using a multimeter with needle probes that can reach in the back of the connectors to reach the contact and take the voltage reading.

    This also is not foolproof, but it is technically better and more reliable a test than a plug in tester like the one mentioned.

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