DC Load Regulation and AC Ripple
PSU Testing Methodology
Establishing an accurate load is critical to testing and evaluating a PC power supply. PCPerspective’s power supply test bench can place a precise DC load on the PSU under test. Each power supply is tested under controlled, real-world conditions up to its maximum rated load (at 40ºC), using both 115 VAC and 240 VAC line voltage. Our current suite of tests includes:
• DC Load Regulation
• AC Ripple and Noise
• Differential Temperature
The SilverStone ST1500-GS power supply was evaluated on both features and performance. A full range of equipment was used to test the power supply under controlled load conditions.
• (2) CSI3710A Programmable DC load (+3.3V and +5V outputs)
• (4) CSI3711A Programmable DC load (+12V)
• (3) 218W Precision resistor load bank (+12V)
• Switchable precision resistor load bank (-12V and +5VSB)
• Agilent 34401A digital multimeter (Accuracy ±0.0035% vDC)
• Extech 380803 Power Analyzer (Accuracy ±0.5% of full scale)
• DS1M12 "StingRay" digital oscilloscope (20M S/s with 12 Bit ADC)
• Powerstat Variable Autotransformer, 1.4 KVA, 0-140 VAC
• Extech Model 407738 digital sound level meter (Accuracy ±1.5 dB)
The following cables/connectors were used to connect the ST1500-GS to the PCPerspective power supply test equipment.
• (1) 20+4 pin ATX
• (2) 8-pin EPS/ATX12V
• (8) 6-pin PCI-E
• (2) SATA
• (2) 4-pin Molex
DC Output Load Regulation
To simulate real-world loading conditions, the ST-1500-GS PSU was connected to the load testers and supplied with a constant 115 VAC. In this test we are interested in seeing how well a PSU can maintain the various output voltages while operating under different loads.
The ATX12V V2.2 tolerance for voltages states how much each output (rail) is allowed to fluctuate and has tighter tolerances now for the +12V outputs. I have also included a second table of expanded tolerances (±1% to ±6%) for reference.
The following tables list the DC voltage results for the PSU while operating on 115 VAC, 60 Hz.
The SilverStone ST1500-GS produced very good load regulation on all of the outputs across a broad range of loads. SilverStone claims ±3.0% regulation for this power supply and it delivered. Even when delivering over 100 amps, the +12V rail stayed within ±2.0%, again – very good.
AC Ripple and Noise on the DC Outputs
The amount of AC ripple and noise present on the DC outputs was checked using a digital oscilloscope. This AC component may be present in the KHz range where most switching power supplies operate or it may be more prevalent at the 60 Hz line frequency. We adjust the O-scope time base to look for AC ripple at both low and high frequencies. The ATX12V V2.2 specification for DC output noise/ripple is defined in the ATX12V Power Supply Design Guide.
Ideally we would like to see no AC ripple (repetitive) or noise (random) on the DC outputs – the cleaner the better! But in reality there will always be some present. I measured the amplitude of the AC signal (in millivolts, peak-to-peak) to see how well the power supply complied with the ATX standard. The following table lists the ripple/noise results during all of the load tests for the main output voltages of interest.
The AC ripple and noise suppression results for the ST1500-GS PSU were very good for the three major rails (=3.3V, +5V, and +12V) but the 5VSB was higher than we would like to see, even though it is well within the ATX recommended guidelines.