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Beware of cheap mini power supplies....

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Many people use the original PicoPSU (which is a trademark of Mini-Box). These supplies made in the USA and with authorised distributors have good backup and have been proven over the years.
As with many things, Chinese makers find their ways around patents (or sometimes infringe them) to make similar products which, for european and US buyers, are temptingly cheap.
I myself have tried out products from China to see how they perform and some of these - like the 500W PSU from "Pico Box" - seem to perform well and are very possibly quite good innovative products in their own right. Maybe these will pass the test over time of being great products, who knows?
One product though I have recently been caught out by and I would like to mention it just to explain my experiences and you can then decide whether the £12 eBay pricing is a good buy or not.

IMG_1895.jpg

This picture will help you recognise it if you see it for sale. It has no name at all on it (and it is not from Mini Box of course and neither is it from Pico Box).

I bought this several months ago and used it in a back up build for my wife so that if her regular computer broke down she could switch to this. The back up build was a mini ITX based machine that I put into this rather nice self designed and made plywood case:

IMG_0251.jpg

It used an older 775 based board that had been my 'old faithful'.

A few months back we switched her computers so she would use back up build full time. All went well until yesterday when she came back to it and it was dead. So I went troubleshooting...

I found that the PSU had failed but in a VERY non friendly fashion. This psu works from a 12 V brick (still working and still at a steady 12v) but when I pulled it from the board and shorted out the two pins (PSon and GND) to turn the PSU on I found that the voltage reading on the 12v lines from the PSU to the motherboard were off the 20v scale. So I changed scale to 200v DC and saw that all the 12v lines were at 24v, similarly the 5v lines were at 10v and the 3.3 at 6v.

Unsurprisingly, when a PSU fails in this manner it is going to take some other things with it. I know the motherboard is now toast. I expect the memory (old DDR2 stuff) is also a casualty, and I have not yet tested the hard drive or the optical drive, but I fear the worst.

So remember before you buy that cheap no name PSU on eBay or from China, you do not just have to think about the cost of the PSU but also need to decide whether you want to take the risk that if it does fail it could take the rest of your system with it.

This lesson won't stop me from testing out products I find to be innovative for situations where I do not mind taking a risk, but it will stop me from buying stuff that is purely bought based on price alone.
 

P1LGRIM

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Good point, well presented - Thanks for sharing.
 
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Slightly off-topic, but do you happen to have any idea where Streacom gets their PicoPSUs from? Do they actually manufacture them themselves or buy from Chinese suppliers and just put their label on it?

I recently bought one (cost around 110 USD) and one of the caps fell off almost immediately. Not a promising start.
 
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