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Switching Power Supplies A - Z, Second Edition
Switching Power Supplies A - Z, Second Edition, by Sanjaya Maniktala (Newnes), starting at $48.88
Home » Power
How to Discover Your Power Supply’s Real Manufacturer
Author: Gabriel Torres
Type: Tutorials Last Updated: November 15, 2010
Page: 1 of 10
Introduction

More and more traditional companies from other segments are entering the PC power supply market. However, the majority of them actually don’t manufacture their products. In this short tutorial we will teach you how to find out who is the real manufacturer of a given power supply.

We can separate power supply companies into three groups: the ones that design and manufacture their own products (the minority), the ones that design their own products but hire another company to manufacture the products for them, and the ones that use OEM products, i.e., another company designs and manufactures their products, but adding the label, box and manual from the contracting company. Almost all well-known manufacturers that aren’t originally from the power supply business fall in this last category.

Is this bad? Maybe. As the quality of the power supply will not depend on the labeled brand but on the real manufacturer, a given brand can provide a terrific product line on their original business (memory, cooling or whatever) but a different quality level for their power supply line. But we strongly believe that manufacturers will choose other manufacturers with the same quality level or they would get burned pretty quickly.

We can also have the funny situation of two different brands providing exactly the same power supply, as many original manufacturers are providing products to more than one brand. In some situations you can also find the same power supply on the market under the real manufacturer brand.

Here are two examples: XFX 750 W Black Edition is a relabeled Seasonic M12D 750 W, and SilverStone Element ST75EF is a relabeled Seventeam ST-750P-AF.

Everything will depend on the agreement between the two companies, as this agreement will say if the original manufacturer can or cannot sell their products to other companies or even sell them under their own brand. Sometimes they will agree that products picked to be manufactured under brand “X” will be exclusive, but other products can be sold to other companies. Sometimes the agreement will say that after “x” months the original manufacturer has the option to also sell the same product under their own brand or to sell it to other companies to be labeled under different brands.

Keep in mind that a company can buy power supplies from more than one source. If you find out that model ABC from brand MNO was manufactured by company XYZ, this does not necessary mean that all other models from MNO will also be from XYZ.

So, how can we find out who is the real manufacturer of a given power supply? There are some ways.

Today, the best way to discover a power supply real manufacturer and original model number is through its 80 Plus report, provided that the unit is 80 Plus-certified, of course. Using this method you don’t need to disassemble the power supply or even have it in your possession, and you also may be able to find models from other brands that are internally identical to the unit you are researching. We will explore this technique in the next page.

If the power supply isn’t 80 Plus-certified, you may be able to find its real manufacturer without opening it by checking its UL or TÜV SÜD registration number, if one is provided on the power supply box or label. However, as more and more companies are getting their own UL or TÜV SÜD registration number, in most cases today the number will decode to the brand that is selling the product, and not the original manufacturer. We will teach you how to decode the registration numbers in pages three and four.

If using the above-listed techniques you aren’t able to determine the real manufacturer of a power supply, then you will need to look at its internals. At first you may think that this isn’t an option, since opening the power supply voids the warranty. However, sometimes you can discover the real manufacturer by simply looking inside the unit through its venting holes. For example, most power supplies manufactured by a company called CWT use green adhesive tape inside the unit. So, if by looking inside the unit through its venting holes you see that the transformers and several other components are wrapped in green tape, you probably looking at a unit manufactured by CWT.

Of course if you can't determine the real manufacturer by simply looking through the venting holes, you will need to open the unit, thus voiding its warranty. Then, inside the unit, you need to look for evidences of the real manufacturer. We will show you several examples on how to do that throughout this tutorial.

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