A Power Supply Tester Is Something Every Enthusiast Should Have
Today I thought that it would be interesting to review something that doesn't get much attention, a power supply tester. This is one of those products that does not get sent out for review much, but is often used by those that work on computers for a living as it is a quick and simple diagnostic tool that can be easily used at the shop or on the road. Power supply testers have come a long way since 2005 and the days of having just a green or red LED light to tell you the status of the power supply are long gone. Let's take a look to see what you get when you spend $20.99 on the Rexus PST-3 digital power supply tester.
The new models are now metal, which means that it is tougher to melt the housing and that the tester is a little more durable for those of you that like to be rough on things. The old plastic power supply testers like the Antec ATX12V Power Supply Tester would get so hot that after a few minutes the plastic housing would melt like the one pictured above. For those curious how this happened, I just plugged the Antec tester into a power supply and then the phone rang. To make a long story short I didn't unplug it and a few minutes later I returned to find a melted, but still working device. The Rexus power supply tester is sleeker, better made and has LCD display to give you the actual reading of the voltages. For those curious about size it measures 150mm (l) x 64mm (w) x 18mm (t).
The Rexus power supply tester is compatible with both 20-pin and 24-pin power supplies, so no worries on that front. The power supply tester has the ability to the following connectors:
- 20-pin and 24-pin power supplies
- SATA power
- Pentium 4 power connector
- PCI-Express power connectors
- Xeon power connectors
- Floppy drive connectors
- standard 4-pin molex power supply connectors
- Accurate voltage indicator +/-V(+12V1/+5V/+3.3V/5VSB/+12V2/-12V)
As you can tell, power supply testers have come a long way since the last time one was reviewed here on the site in 2005.
On the bottom of the tester is the 4-pin molex connector (shown above) and at the top of the tester is the SATA connector (not shown). Now that the basic features of this simple to use power supply tester are known let's take a look at how it works in real life.
Trying Out The Power Supply Tester
In order to use the tester you need to plug-in the (P4 / P6 or P8) connector into the tester before turning on the power supply tester by inserting the 20-pin or 24-pin ATX connector. Once the main ATX connector is installed the tester will power up and give you the readings on the power supply. Notice that the LCD display is backlit, which is a nice touch as most cases will be dark and might be under a desk. If the voltage is too low or too high an audible alarm will sound, but if it is slightly high or low it will display LL (low) or HH (high).
The first power supply I tried out was an Antec True Control 550 that I kept for legacy purposes and the fact it was the first enthusiast power supply with adjustable voltage rails on the outside of the case. This power supply is from 2003 and features a 20-pin ATX connector with a 4-pin P4 connector. After over 5 years of use it still checks out fine as you can see from the image above. The Power Good (PG) value on the lower right hand corner might be new to some people. It is the delay in time between the DC rails stabilizing and the Power Good signal being issued for the system to boot, without this signal a system will be unable to boot. A Power Good value of 250ms is considered good, but this tester reads between 100ms and 900ms. An alarm will sound if the Power Good value is abnormal.
Next up is the popular Corsair HX620W power supply, which is regarded as one of the best power supplies built in recent years. With a 24-pin ATX connector and a P8 connector in use this power supply has a little more muscle and checked out fine on the tester.
The last power supply I tried out on the tester was the Cooler Master Real Power ESA 1000W power supply, which is a beast. It looks like the Rexus power supply tester was able to handle the five year old power supplies just fine as well as the new 1000W models that are needed for the power hungry SLI and CrossFire gaming systems out there.
Final Thoughts and Conclusions:
The power supply is one of the most important parts of a computer and with the Rexus power supply tester you can not check for a defective unit in just seconds. The power supply tester is better made than those of years past and are better suited to test newer power supplies along with many of the latest connectors. The LCD display is the icing on the cake as it gives you basic voltage information right away and even the Power Good value. With this many features one would expect it to have a high price tag, but the price remains right around $20, which is what the old Antec ATX12V Power Supply Tester cost back in 2005. Obviously, you are getting more for your dollar today thanks to dropping prices in the consumer electronics market.
Legit Bottom Line: If you repair a number of computers throughout the year or live in an area with thunderstorms or power fluctuations, a power supply tester is something you need to have in the diagnostic kit!