October 27th 2003
Anyone out there who builds machines regularly will know what a pain in the ass it is when a machine refuses to boot, or behaves strangely for no obvious reason. Often, the fault is difficult to diagnose, especially if there's a possibility of a faulty PSU or motherboard. Without specialist testing equipment, you often will have to RMA the board, and/or replace the PSU if it's reliability is in question.
I was recently browsing through my local hardware vendor's store, and happened across the Antec PSU Tester. It's a simple device that acts as an ATX switch, and gives the user the facility to test the 12v, 5v & 3.3v lines of a PSU with nothing more than a simple multimeter. Additionally, it will also place a 25w load on the PSU simulating actual use.
The unit comes as a heatproof shrink wrapped box with a female atx motherboard connector attached via flylead. The connector has open pins giving you the three output voltage lines as well as a ground, and a small green led to test basic operation. In use, the unit can become quite hot so it's advisable to avoid prolonged contact if you value your fingertips. The power coupler can also be fiddly to unplug after use. I think Antec could have gone one stage further perhaps and enclosed the entire unit in a vented casing which would certainly make it more user friendly.
Bugbears aside, this little unit is incredibly useful for tracking down PSU related problems. So far i've tested 3 suspect PSU's and found them all to be faulty in one way or another, from a very low 12v line to total output failure.
- Output voltage testing
- Load testing
- Small and easy to carry around.
- Cheap ('15 UK)
- Fiddly to use.
- Can get hot.
- Somewhat fragile.