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How many "sub-categories" of PSUs are there besides form-factor & wattage?

(NOTE - in this post assume that WATTAGEs are compatible / appropriate.)
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Previously I had thought that you identify compatibility of PSU's (in a particular PC) by their associated form factor, e.g. "ATX", vs "Mini-ATX".  

But today I brought an ATX power supply to replace an ATX power supply on an HP Pavilion, and I could not, because the Pavilion has a very small power supply, about half the size of the one I brought (so there was not room inside the PC for my bigger PSU)

LIkewise, in a different situation, I was unable to use an old ATX power supply from a P2 or P3 in a newer P4 motherboard because it lacked the "P4 ATX" connector, for the CPU power.

And in a third situation, an ATX DELL PC had the external power cord connector on the opposite side, so if you tried to use a regular old ATX psu, the power connector was was blocked by part of the case, as I remember.

So obviously, just because two PSU's say "ATX" doesn't mean they're compatible. (They don't necessarily fit into the same PC).  

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Are there just too many variations of PSUs WITHIN the ATX category to be able to generalize? When you are replacing a CPU, do you go by the PC MODEL NUMBER, and check compatibility of PSUs on the web FOR that model #, rather that go by form factor?

thanks
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dgrrr
Asked:
dgrrr
3 Solutions
 
Sham HaqueSenior SAP CRM ConsultantCommented:
what to look for in a PSU:

form factor - so it physically matches the PC case you're proposing to fit it into
Wattage - i think it's fairly safe to say that you can never have too much
Fans - number and quality  - this will determine how cool and quiet your PC is (in addition to several other components)
connectors - this is where it gets a bit sticky. generally, PSUs from respected manufacturers (eg Enermax, CoolerMaster,Akasa)  - as long as you're buying up-to-date models, they should have the right connectors for all modern mobos. However, length of cord afforded is also a critical factor - i have run into this issue several times in my large tower....

stuff to think about -but this is where it pays to be able to physically inspect the product before purchase - ie your local computing retailer...

best of luck!
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CallandorCommented:
There is more than one ATX spec:
ATX - http://www.compute-aid.com/atxspec.html
ATX12V 2.01 - http://www.tomshardware.com/2004/12/23/more_performance/index.html

Some manufacturers make proprietary power supplies, and you must replace them carefully or you will have incompatibilities.  HP is one, some old Dells are another.  

P4 power supplies are different than those for P2 or P3's; they have the extra square 4-wire connector to provide extra power for the cpu.

These are the most glaring differences, and you happened to hit them all :-(
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compfixer101Commented:
also there a re those older AT models which are on when they are on and OFF when the are off and the connector is different they have two different connectors instead of the on 20 pin plug  and must be connected with the balck wires in the MIDDLE  just remember "black to black or all will BE black"
cf101
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willcompCommented:
There are 3 common form factors (sizes) within the ATX realm: ATX, uATX, and SFX.  uATX and SFX are used interchangeably by some vendors, but they are separate animals.

The HP Pavilion power supply was an SFX power supply.  There are several SFX form factors and sizes.  The 2 most common are the same size but power plug is on different sides.  The HP type has power plug on longer side while type used by Gateway has power plug on shorter side.

uATX is just a shorter ATX power supply.

Callandor covered ATX spec iterations and the various form factors comply to those same specs.

True uATX PSU  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16817104112
SFX PSU (HP type)  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16817103507
SFX PSU (Gateway Essential type)  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16817104981

Note that last PSU is listed as a uATX power supply rather than SFX.
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