How Much Power Can a Generic 500 W Power Supply Really Deliver?

Primary Analysis

As we explained, one of the ways power supply manufacturers can cut costs on cheaper units is by using cheaper components. With semiconductor components (diodes and transistors) they accomplish this by using components with lower current (and thus power) limits.

On the primary side of the power supply, generic units usually use four discrete diodes instead of a rectifying bridge – which is a component that has four diodes inside. These diodes can be see in Figure 7, present in the previous page.

This generic 500 W unit uses four 1N5408 diodes, which can handle up to 3 A each, rated at 105° C. “Branded” power supplies use rectifying bridges that can handle at least the double from that. At 115 V this unit would be able to pull up only 345 W from the power grid; assuming 80% efficiency, the bridge would allow this unit to deliver only up to 276 W without any diode burning.

On the switching section generic power supplies use regular power BJT transistors instead of power MOSFET transistors, using the half-bridge configuration, which is the configuration traditionally used by power supplies without active PFC. On a generic unit it is expected that the amount of current each transistor can handle to be lower compared to “branded” units, as the manufacturer chooses to use cheaper components.

Our 500 W generic unit uses two 2SD13007K transistors. Unfortunately we couldn’t find its datasheet so we can’t comment on its maximum rated specs. The third transistor in Figure 8 is for the +5VSB power supply, which is independent from the rest of the power supply.

Generic 500 W Power SupplyFigure 8: Switching transistors.

Now let’s take a look at the secondary of this power supply.

Author: Gabriel Torres

Gabriel Torres is a Brazilian best-selling ICT expert, with 24 books published. He started his online career in 1996, when he launched Clube do Hardware, which is one of the oldest and largest websites about technology in Brazil. He created Hardware Secrets in 1999 to expand his knowledge outside his home country.

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